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Denver is the largest city in and capital of the state of Colorado, USA. Denver ("The Mile-High City") is at an altitude of 5,280 feet/1,600 meters, where the midwestern plains give way to the Rocky Mountains. The city officially records its Mile High Status by a gold band embedded in the steps of the state capitol, located in downtown Denver.
Denver is the Mile High City, a bustling city of over 579,000 people supporting a metropolitan area of nearly 3 million people. Though the city embraces its cowboy and mining past it also looks forward to the future with a vibrant arts, and performing arts scene, dozens of great outdoor festivals, awesome neighborhoods offering their own unique experiences, and pretty much everything a cosmopolitan city has to offer, not to mention great access to the beautiful Rocky Mountains only 15 miles west of town (The Denver of "Dynasty" is long gone).
Thanks to the Denver Mint Denver Mint Tours, more U.S. money is made in Denver than anywhere else in the world. Fish a coin out of your pocket and look for the "D" on the face side of the coin (usually in the bottom right quadrant). The 'D" means the money was minted in Denver.
Still, Denver does have its growing pains. Sprawl is becoming a problem, with the metropolitan area sometimes growing faster than the infrastructure can really handle, especially with public transportation. Denver is generally a driving city, and problems with pollution and traffic are thus a part of every day life. In November 2006, the T-REX transportation construction along I-25 was completed (with a Light-Rail line as well), which is aiding in the traffic and transportation for this area of the city. Denver's grid system is fairly efficient as well, though there is often confusion at the intersections of the NE-SW, NW-SE downtown grid, with the N-S, E-W grid of the rest of the city.
Contrary to popular belief, Denver residents enjoy a mild climate, but are subject to 4 very pronounced seasons.
The winter months of December through March can and do bring biting temperatures and heavy snow to the region encompassing all of the large cities along the Front Range of Colorado, including the Denver Metropolitan Area. While Denver does receive a major blizzard every 6 years on average, most snowstorms bring less than 8 inches of snow. Foothills locations directly west of Denver receive copious amounts of snow; most unprotected areas receive an average of nearly 200 inches of snow per winter. Winter is also when the Denver area gets pounded by a phenomenon known as the chinook. The word "chinook" itself is translated from the Chinook dialect as "snow-eater." As air flows over the mountains to the west, it sinks on the leeward (eastern) slopes of the foothills and warms up. During strong chinook events, it is not uncommon for locations in the Boulder and Golden areas just west of Denver to receive wind gusts exceeding 90 miles per hour. Chinook winds are known to raise air temperatures dramatically - sometimes 30º or 40º during the course of an afternoon - and can last for several days. Temperatures generally drop quickly once the chinook subsides. In spite of an average high temperature of 43º and average low temperature of 15º during the coldest month of January, Denver regularly records highs in the 60s, and sometimes the low 70s, in the dead of winter (almost always a result of a chinook wind event). The coldest temperature ever recorded in Denver was -29º, however temperatures below -20º have not occurred since the early 1990s. If you're planning to visit Denver during the winter, be prepared with full winter gear, but consider packing a light sweater or t-shirt - you never know what you may be treated to.
Spring in Denver is pleasant, though generally brief. Trees begin budding by late March, which for some not accustomed to Denver's springs, is not always positive. March, on average, is Denver's snowiest month. As temperatures begin to rise, the snow that does fall is generally saturated with moisture and can and does cause significant damage to trees that have begun budding. April is Denver's third snowiest month on average, though most years only record a few inches. April is typically the time of year when Denver receives its first thunderstorm of the year, although it's not unheard of to hear thunder during any month of the year. By late April into mid May, most trees are in full leaf and the city transforms from the browns and grays of winter's grip to a colorful and vibrant oasis between the plains to the east and the mountain ranges to the west. May can and, in most years, does bring with it several days of freezing temperatures (mainly at night), but most days are clear with highs averaging in the 70s and lows in the 40s. June in Denver is quite unpredictable. Snow has been recorded as late as June 12 and freezing temperatures have also been recorded in mid June. Severe weather is most prominent in Denver during June, so keep your eyes to the skies if visiting during this time. One of the costliest hail storms in United States history devastated the Front Range from Fort Collins (north of Denver) to Colorado Springs (south of Denver) and caused more than $600,000,000 in damage.
By the middle part of June, Denver enters its summer season. Temperatures typically rise in earnest by this time and 100º temperatures have been recorded as early as June 14 (again, considering it's altitude, this is quite unusual). Most heat waves begin in the latter part of June and continue through July, the hottest month in Denver on average. By the middle part of July, the southwest monsoon kicks in. Temperatures rise rapidly from morning through early afternoon (30º-40º between 7:00am and 1:00pm is not uncommon) before thunderstorms develop over the mountains and foothills to the west and spread east over the Denver area and eastern plains. For those who do not like the heat, this is usually a welcome sight - thunderstorms producing heavy rains can drop temperatures from 95º to 65º in a matter of minutes. Keep in mind that Denver has an extremely dry climate, so temperatures fall quickly during storms and once the sun sets. July high temperatures in the city average around 90º and lows average around 60º. The heat generally sticks around until the third week in August. By this time, there is a noticeable difference in evening and night time temperatures as the days are shorter and average temperatures begin to drop. Even so, Denver's highest recorded temperature of 105º did occur in August.
Fall is one of the best times to visit. Temperatures average in the low 80s during the day and, by the end of the month, lows average in the 40s. September is normally free of severe weather and skies are clear and blue for most of the month. This is also a wonderful time to drive west and see the fall colors in the mountains, which typically peak around the second or third week of September, depending on latitude and elevation. October usually brings the first snowfall of the season to Denver, although it is not usually heavy. The leaves at the comparatively lower elevation of the city change in October, and the brilliant golds and reds are sure to amaze anyone. A drive up Guanella Pass near Georgetown (about 1½ hours west of Denver on I-70) is not to be missed. By November, it is clear that winter is on its way. November is, on average, Denver's cloudiest month and its second snowiest. Be prepared for cool to frigid weather if visiting during November. By this time, temperatures average in the 40s to low 50s during the day and the 30s at night.
Outdoor Enthusiasts Rejoice
Late spring/early summer and early autumn are excellent times to visit Denver if you are an outdoor sports enthusiast. The weather is generally pleasant, there is an abundance of outdoor festivals at these times, and the mountains offer great beauty in the form of plenty of wildflowers in early summer and the fantastic color of the changing aspen trees in September.
Of course, for skiing enthusiasts, winter is the best time to visit Denver. There are many ski resorts about 1 1/2-2 hours west of Denver along I-70, though the weekend traffic to these resorts can be very slow, especially in inclement weather. To avoid the drive, you can take the Ski-Train from Union Station to the Denver-owned Winter Park and Mary Jane ski resorts or the RTD bus service to the Eldora Ski Resort west of Boulder (by far the cheapest option). You can find information about the latter at the RTD bus station at the corner of 16th and Market streets in downtown Denver. To avoid the crowds, go skiing during the week or avoid the busy Thanksgiving to New Years season. There are also numerous mountain trails for snowshoers and cross-country skiers that are generally free.