Are you looking to brush up on your Denver trivia knowledge? Keeping these weird and interesting facts in your back pocket is sure to impress your friends and family, whether they’re from The Mile High City or not.
RELATED ARTICLE: 11 Reasons You Should Consider Moving to Denver
- Denver Was Colorado’s Third Capital
It wasn’t until 1876 that Denver was chosen as the temporary capital of the state, having previously been Colorado City and then Golden. At the time, Golden was considered an economic hub of the region. As commerce began gravitating away from the town, Denver became the clear choice after the Denver Pacific Railroad deal was inked. By 1881, Denver had been named the permanent capital via a statewide vote.
- Dinosaurs Used to Hang Out at Coors Field
It may be surprising to those not in the field of paleontology that Denver has one of the highest records of dinosaur fossils of any Metropolitan area. When Coors Field was being constructed back in 1993, workers found remnants of prehistoric creatures that roamed the very place the Colorado Rockies now play. At the time of this discovery, there was an enthusiastic push to rename the baseball venue after Jurassic Park.
If you’ve ever been curious as to why the Rockies have a dinosaur mascot, Dinger, now you can impress fellow baseball fanatics with this piece of trivia. While there is debate over whether an actual triceratops skull was discovered under the field, this is the story that Dinger has built his legacy around.
- Denver International Airport is the Largest in the Country
In terms of land area, Denver International Airport (DIA) is the largest in the country. Sitting at 33,917 acres, the airport has 6 runways, with plans to expand to 12. Denver’s airport also has a runway that’s 16,000 feet long, which is the longest commercial runway in all of North America.
Altogether, the airport sits on a larger section of property than the entire island of Manhattan. While the airport is not ranked as the #1 airport in terms of passengers each year, DIA sees a respectable 59 million flyers annually, making it the third busiest airport in the world as of 2021.
- On That Note — Have You Heard About Blucifer?
For those who haven’t experienced the airport, a 32-foot sculpture of a blue mustang with red eyes is there to greet arrivals. The artist, Luis Jiménez, was commissioned to create an installation that represented the wild spirit of the old American west. Ever since being erected in 2008, onlookers have been in a heated debate over whether the sculpture, nicknamed Blucifer, is the best representation of the city.
Jiménez died in 2006 at the age of 65 when a piece of the mustang came loose and killed him in a tragic accident. The horse was completed posthumously by friends and family of the artist and has remained there ever since.
- Denver Was the First City to Turn Down the Olympics
After winning a bid for the 1976 Winter Olympics, Denver politicians and citizens alike grew concerned about the steep cost of hosting the games, as well as the inevitable impact on the environment. Instead, the games were moved to Innsbruck, Austria which had played host years before and therefore had the necessary infrastructure in place.
To this day, Denver remains the only city to have rejected an Olympic bid and while there has been discussion about Denver seeking the Olympic bid for 2030, the odds are still low that residents want to contribute to the funding of such a massive event and deal with the long-term effects on the economy that hosting the Olympics inevitably brings.
- Colfax Avenue is the Longest Continuous Street in the USA
Colfax Avenue stretches the length of 49.5 miles, making it the longest continuous commercial street in the United States. Some of Denver’s most iconic businesses sit along the avenue, including The Ogden Theatre, Voodoo Doughnuts, The Fillmore, Tattered Cover Bookstore, and the U.S. Mint.
Colfax extends from Golden to Aurora, running through Lakewood and Denver inbetween. Once dubbed as the “longest, wickedest street in America” by Playboy, the avenue still boasts delicious eateries, entertainment, and decades of fascinating history.
- Denver Brews More Beer Than Any Other City
With over 150 breweries in the city and an estimated 100,000 home brewers, Denver brews more beer each day than any other city in America. This pastime is far from new, dating back to the Colorado Gold Rush when miners needed a way to unwind after a long and oftentimes disappointing day of searching for riches. Nearby Coors Brewery is the largest in the nation and can make over 20 million barrels each year.
PRO Tip: If you’re looking to imbibe in some of Denver’s brewery creations, check out the Great American Beer Festival. With over 100 beer styles, there’s something for everybody to try and love.
- The Denver Mint is the World’s Largest Coin Producer
Located on West Colfax, the Denver Mint first began producing coins back in February of 1906. Today, 40 million coins are minted here each day, with over 70% of their production being pennies. This makes sense when you consider that every day, Americans either lose or save the equivalent of $100,000 in pennies. This is over 10 million of the coins being taken out of circulation.
The Denver Mint also makes nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, and a range of commemorative coins. It’s home to the country’s second-largest gold depository which holds over 100 billion worth of solid gold bars.
PRO Tip: Look for the D mint mark on your coins. This indicates that the coin originated from the Denver Mint.
- Head to the State Capitol to Discover “The Mile High” Step
Though some people now refer to Denver as the “Mile High” city for other reasons, it was an apt name given to the city that’s one mile above sea level. The 15th step at the Colorado State Capitol sits precisely at the 5,280 feet mark and is designated with engraved text reading “One Mile Above Sea Level.” At Coors Field, the 20th row features purple seats instead of green, which indicates the unique elevation for sports enthusiasts who want to impress their guests.
This high altitude can affect visitors if they don’t prepare. The lower air pressure combined with the decreased oxygen can result in altitude sickness for a day or two while the body is acclimating.
- It Takes Fewer Drinks to Get Buzzed in Denver
The popular theory is that one drink in Denver equals two drinks in Chicago, though the science behind this is murky. However, when someone is experiencing dizziness commonly associated with altitude sickness, adding alcohol into the mix is sure to result in a more woozy, inebriated sensation.
While drinking alcohol at a higher altitude doesn’t necessarily raise somebody’s blood alcohol level any faster than normal, the hangover can be much worse. This is because the reduction of oxygen can be dehydrating for drinkers, which may worsen the headache the next day.
- There Are 200 Named Peaks Visible From Denver
Though Denver itself isn’t considered a mountain town, residents can still view over 200 peaks from the city. Of these hundreds of peaks, 32 are over 13,000 feet, also known as the popular 13ers that hikers strive to cross off their bucket lists. While many people know that the Rockies are visible from anywhere in the city, the most prominent section of the Rocky Mountains visible from Denver is known as the Front Range.
Any hiking enthusiast living in Denver will be able to point out Pikes Peak, Mount Evans, and Longs Peak — the most prominent mountains. You don’t have to live in an expensive luxury high-rise to enjoy the view, either. Check out locations such as Cranmer Park, Inspiration Point Park, and the Anschutz Family Sky Terrace for uninterrupted views of the stunning mountain ranges.
PRO Tip: Anyone who’s curious about the peaks and their names, visit Peak Finder to discover exact heights and more.
- Denver is 1 of 10 Cities With Every Professional Sports League
Denver isn’t a city lacking in spectator sports. Residents enjoy teams from all major professional sports leagues so whatever you like to watch, you’ll have a local team to cheer on. Population-wise, Denver is the smallest city in the country to boast this many pro teams. Along with the leagues mentioned below, Denver also has multiple rugby teams and an ultimate frisbee team.
MLB — Colorado Rockies / Coors Field
NFL — Denver Broncos / Empower Field at Mile High
NBA — Denver Nuggets / Ball Arena
NHL — Colorado Avalanche / Ball Arena
MLS —Colorado Rapids / Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
NLL — Colorado Mammoth / Ball Arena
- Denver Was Founded Because of Gold
Denver became a mining town during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and was officially founded on November 22, 1858, after the discovery of gold in the region drew a stampede of miners. Even though not much was found, all it took was a whisper of possibility. The California Gold Rush had occurred less than a decade prior, leaving many with high hopes of making it big from gold mining.
- The City Built a Zoo Because of a Bear
Denver’s zoo began in 1896 after the mayor received a black bear cub named Billy Bear as a gift. Upon having nowhere to put the bear, it was chained to a stake in City Park. Upon being relocated to the north side, Billy Bear marked the beginning of the Denver Zoo, which occupies the same space today. The zoo has since expanded to 80 acres and thousands of animals from more than 600 species.
PRO Tip: The Denver zoo offers several free admission days to residents throughout the year using an online lottery system. Register during the open enrollment period for a chance to win free vouchers.
- The Capitol Building Used the World’s Supply of Rose Onyx
The Colorado State Capitol building was purposefully designed to resemble the United States Capitol. Construction involved Colorado granite that was topped with a golden dome made from copper paneling and gold leaf that was gilded from a local mine as a commemoration of the gold rush.
The rare Colorado Rose Onyx is a marble found in a quarry outside of Beulah, Colorado. Through the construction of the capitol, the world’s supply of this material was quickly depleted, except for a small amount that remains on display.
- The Cheeseburger Was Invented in Denver
Everyone’s favorite fast food guilty pleasure meal, the cheeseburger, was patented by Louis E. Ballast. Ballast was the owner of the Humpty Dumpty Barrel Restaurant, Denver’s first drive-thru. Though the restaurant is no longer there, there is a commemorative stone marker that marks the birthplace of where the hamburger was upgraded with a slice of cheese. In true Colorado fashion, throw some bacon and green chiles on your next cheeseburger and enjoy a local delicacy.
- Denver Collects More Money Per Capita for the Arts Than Any Other City
Arts are a major contributor to Denver’s economy and there are over 10,000 jobs that are related to the field. The city brings in nearly 2 billion through arts and cultural organizations, with an influx of nearly half a million being injected into the economy annually. Though this industry was disrupted by the pandemic and saw a drop in revenue as people had to get creative with how they gathered to celebrate the arts, it’s showing signs of a strong comeback.
- City Parks Include Red Rocks and a Buffalo Herd
Denver has one of the largest city park systems in the country, with over 300 urban parks and 20,000 acres of property. These parks include Red Rocks Amphitheater, a popular concert venue, and a Buffalo Herd Overlook. 89% of Denver residents live within a 10-minute walking distance of a park, which is a significant increase from the national average of 55%. The city is also within the 73rd percentile of the number of dog parks in comparison to other major cities across the country.
Some of the most popular parks include:
- Washington Park — referred to as “Wash Park,” residents can fish, paddle board, and enjoy the leisurely bike-free 2.6-mile loop.
- Cheeseman Park — featuring an expansive lawn and jogging trails, Denverites congregate here during the summer months to enjoy free movie screenings.
- Sloan’s Lake Park — named after the largest lake in the city, the park is the place to be for water sports, such as kayaking and wakeboarding, as well as tennis and soccer.
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