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CITY LIFE DENVER ZZZ


Colorado’s laid-back capital is the mountainous gateway to the West, but dig deeper to discover craft beer and


cocktail dens, indie boutiques, design hotels and street art WORDS: Aaron Millar PHOTOGRAPHS: Rebecca Stumpf


T


he Rocky Mountains rise from the Great Plains like a mirage of granite, ice and snow. Seeing them for the


first time feels like a dream, jagged peaks jutting suddenly 14,000ſt to the sky, too vast to be real. But they are, and even better: they built a city on that view. Austin may have the live music, Portland might be the capital of cool, but Denver has something even better — Rocky Mountain bliss. Long viewed through the filter of its


Wild West heritage, when gold was found here in 1858 and pioneers rushed in to make their fortune, that filter has now changed. Today, Denver consistently ranks among the most liveable, walkable, healthiest cities in the country. And as one of America’s hip urban centres, it’s young, creative and up for fun. It hasn’t forgotten its roots, either; it’s just


that the city’s roots have just grown. There’s rodeo, country music and cowboy boots if that’s your thing, but walk the streets of Denver today and you’re more likely to find tattoo parlours and trendy trainer shops than anywhere touting Stetsons and spurs.


Cowboys may be good at lassoing steers,


but it’s the young urbanites, who have flocked here in their thousands in recent years, that are good at what Denver stands for now: art, food, music and craſt beer. Lots of beer: a staggering 148 breweries at the last count to be precise. But a good pint is one thing. A good pint with a jaw-dropping view of the Rocky Mountains is the stuff of dreams for many. Especially when that view is waiting for


you to jump in. Just a few miles west of the city proper, but within its jurisdiction, there are hundreds of miles of trails, some of the highest peaks in the lower 48 (all US states but Alaska and Hawaii) and even a ski train to take you straight from the city to the slopes. Adventure by day, cocktails by night. Denver is surprising people, which is


why, perhaps, it’s already won two top international travel accolades for the best place to visit in 2020. The secret is simple and the secret is out: Denver doesn’t just have the mountains and it’s more than just the gateway to the West. It has the music, the culture and the cool too.


124


nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel


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