Denver, Colorado: Mile-High Capitol Building

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I decided to kick off my Colorado vacation by spending some time in Denver.  I had ignored the city during my 2010 trip to the Rockies, and only made a brief pass through town in 2005, on my way back to the airport.  So this time, the city became my first priority, and the Colorado Capitol Building, my first stop.

During this visit in June, 2012, the capitol dome was being refurbished…

… so my outdoor photos of the building were less than spectacular.

Still, I managed to get a few shots where the construction work was not obvious.

The Colorado State Capitol is located along Colfax Avenue, which is also US 40 and US 287. It’s an east-west road that’s slightly south of the central business district. From I-25, take exit 210a, and head east. I had no trouble finding on-street metered parking, just a couple blocks away.

Before you go inside, you’ll want to take a short walk up the west-facing stairs.  From there, you’ll have a nice view of at least part of the city skyline, as well as the City and County Building, on the opposite side of Civic Center Park.

No doubt, you’ll also see a crowd of photo-takers focusing on the granite steps.  Wait your turn, then hop into the mix and take your picture next to the “One Mile Above Sea Level” step, which purports to be exactly 5,280 feet above the Atlantic or Pacific.  A few steps up, a brass marker was added, once it was discovered that the engraved step was just a few inches off.  The marker used to declare the exact elevation, but it has been rubbed by so many visitors that the numbers are almost unreadable.

When visiting back in ’05 (with my less-than-famous traveling red mug), the numbers were easier to read. 

Admission to the capitol’s interior is free, although you have to pass through a simple security check.  Once inside, you can wander around freely.

You’ll enter on the ground floor, and walk to the middle of the building, where you’ll find the Grand Staircase…

… which provides a dizzying view, straight up, at the rotunda.

The grand staircase is surrounded by the Boettcher Water Murals, which explain the importance of Colorado’s most precious resource.  Without it, how would they brew beer?

Up the stairs, you can peek into the House of Representatives.  65 lawmakers meet in this room annually.

The building’s other legislative chamber is just a short walk away.  The Senate houses 35 state senators.

One more great chamber is also available for admiration.  This is the old Supreme Court chamber, which was used for 85 years, until the court moved to a new building in 1977.  It is now used as a legislative hearing room.

There’s plenty more to see, as you wander around the capitol building, including portraits of the first, and current, U.S. presidents.

And, they still have phone booths!  But, with no phones inside.  I guess you could step inside, shut the door, and talk on your cell phone.

Once you’re satisfied with your experience inside the Colorado Capitol Building, head back outside to see a few more interesting attractions nearby.

The Denver Mint is nearby — it’s the place where U.S. currency coins are manufactured.  The mint is located at 320 West Colfax Avenue, near the Colorado Capitol Building.  Tours are free, but reservations are required.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Denver International Airport, into Downtown, ending near the Capitol Building:

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