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5 Things Delegates Should Do In Denver

The Buckhorn Exchange — Denver's oldest restaurant — serves a variety of unusual meats such as yak, elk and bison. Many of the animals it serves up are also stuffed and hanging on the wall.
Jeff Brady/NPR /
The Buckhorn Exchange — Denver's oldest restaurant — serves a variety of unusual meats such as yak, elk and bison. Many of the animals it serves up are also stuffed and hanging on the wall.

When the 4,200 Democratic delegates and the media horde following them arrive in Denver for the party's national convention, they'll be the focus of an intense and well-orchestrated campaign to enhance Colorado's image.

The message that visitors will hear is that the Mile High City is a thriving urban center with a well-educated workforce and fancy new museums.

But they may miss out on the "real" Colorado. This is the Colorado the state's "chamber of commerce" types would rather not publicize, because it kicks up a little dust.

To make sure delegates and reporters get a well-rounded view of the state, here's a list of suggested activities:

1. Watch a cattle drive through downtown Denver.

We're talking the real thing: cowboys on horseback doing rope tricks, long-horned cattle and a demonstration of how livestock was moved to market before cattle trucks.

Sadly, visitors will have to come back in January during the National Western Stock Show to see one. City leaders nixed a preconvention cattle drive for fear Denver would be seen as a "cow town."

2. View Denver's city-owned bison herds.

The closest place to see them is fewer than 30 minutes from downtown, near Buffalo Bill's grave, which also might be worth seeing. There, you can see about 90 bison grazing hilly fields. The city started the herds nearly 100 years ago as a conservation effort.

3. Eat three kinds of unusual meat, preferably in one sitting.

Try buffalo, rattlesnake, yak, ostrich or elk. The Buckhorn Exchange is the place to go. Make sure you get the horseradish dipping sauce with your Rocky Mountain oysters.

4. Get out of Denver and take in some of the real scenic beauty of the state.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado provide stunning views. They are part of the Rocky Mountains, but are often overlooked for those that are closer to Denver. Glenwood Canyon — just over two hours from Denver on I-70 — is a beautiful stretch of freeway. Alongside the Colorado River, the road winds through narrow valleys. If you're lucky, you'll see wild sheep grazing.

And while you're touring the state, you can eat some of the best fruit you've ever tasted: Palisade peaches (from Palisade, Colo., about 230 miles west of Denver) and cantaloupe from Rocky Ford, Colo. (about 160 miles south of Denver).

5. Climb a "14er."

That stands for a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet in elevation. Colorado has more 14ers than any other state — among them are Pikes Peak, Mount Evans and Longs Peak.

Denver sits at 5,280 feet above sea level, so you're already a third of the way there!

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.

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