Denver is located on the South Platte River eight miles east of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 5,280 feet (1 mile) above sea level (a round brass cap embedded in the western entrance stairs of the State Capitol marks the exact spot). Denver is one of the few cities in history that was not built on a road, railroad, lake, navigable river or body of water when it was founded. It just happened to be where the first few flakes of gold were found in 1858.
Local boosters named the frontier mining camp on the South Platte River “Denver” after Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver in hopes of gaining political favor. Unfortunately, Denver had retired by the time they named the town. There were originally three separate towns, with three separate names, where Denver now stands. In 1859, the other names were dropped in return for a barrel of whiskey to be shared by all. Fittingly enough, the first permanent structure in Denver was a saloon. Despite being warned by Indians not to build there, early settlers didn’t listen. In its first few years, Denver was destroyed twice, once by fire and once by flood.
Today, the Denver Metropolitan Area has a population of approximately 3 million with a centralized downtown, international airport, light-rail public transportation, and eight professional sports teams. People are into outdoor sports such as skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and running. The biggest surprise for visitors to Denver is the climate. The arid conditions bring only 8 to 15 inches of annual precipitation and locals wake up to more than 300 days of sunshine a year. That’s more annual hours of sun than Miami and San Diego!