Newbies - Geography - Midwest

Modern Denver is the largest city within a six-hundred-mile radius. Known as the "Mile High City," it bears little resemblance to the site where the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians met for hunting and gathering.

Originally the city was named Denver City after James W. Denver, the governor of the Kansas Territory, of which Colorado was a part. The federal government split the Colorado Territory from the Kansas Territory in 1861, opening the door for Statehood in 1865. Denver became the State Capital in 1881, beating out Golden, Colorado Springs and Boulder.

Denver sits on the high plains in the eastern Rockies. Just a crossroads at the joining of Cherry Creek and Platte River before gold was discovered in 1858, it is now the gateway to the Rockies. The steep incline of the mountains, off the plains of Kansas is a surprise when I-25, I-76 and I-70 merge into heavy traffic.

Almost as soon as you reach the city of Denver from any of the three interstates (I-25, I-76 and I-70) down-shifting is immediately necessary to get up the steep mountains. Grades can reach up to 8%, but they are well marked. Use lower gears and engine brakes on the downgrades. Brakes can overheat quickly. When you see the signs: "Truckers it's not over yet" you have about three more mountains to go, so stay in a lower gear.

Where there is an automobile for almost every person in the state, heavy traffic was the number one complaint in the 1990's, but this began to ease with the development of a light rail system and a network of inter-states around the city.

Denver has five major truck stops: The Pilot (I-70, ext. 276 N.), Flying J (I-70, ext. 285 S.), Denver West Travel Center (I-70, ext. 266), TA Travel Centers (I-70, ext. 278 N.) and Sapp Brothers (I-70, ext. 228). Some of them are a little tricky to get into. If you are planning your break in Denver, try to be parked by four o'clock.

If you have a little time off you might like to tour some of the many museums. The city probably has at least one of any kind of interest you might want to explore. They vary from wild-west tours, a stage coaches station, train rides, art museums, ice boating, skiing, theater, opera and just plain enjoying the cool weather.

Although Denver has an annual snowfall of about 55 inches and 15 inches of rain a year; the city claims that it is not snow covered half the year, but has a four-season climate and brags about 300 sunshine days a year. Snow and ice are a hazard for travelers and truckers, though, and can make winter travel difficult.

The Rockies may be somewhat difficult to cross, but the view is breathtaking.

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