Mile High Stadium sign

5280 & What It Means to Denver & Colorado State

Most who currently reside in Colorado are familiar with what 5280 represents, to Denver and Colorado. But for newcomers to Colorado,  here’s a brief history and breakdown to get you familiar with why you see this number used everywhere in Denver:

5280 Denver meaning

5280 is derived from the elevation in Denver, Colorado, totaling 5,280 feet, equivalent to 1 mile above sea level. In addition, Denver sits at the highest altitude of any major U.S. city. Being at such a high elevation is a point of pride for Denver. The city is often referred to as the “Mile High City.” 

This elevation can be surprisingly tricky for newcomers to acclimate to. With lower amounts of available oxygen and such thin air, acclimation comes with time. Living in Denver and taking on the altitude is very much worth it. In such a vibrant city, natives and newcomers alike actively strive to live life to the fullest.


5280 magazine

Founded in 1993, the local magazine 5280 reports on Denver events and goings-on. The magazine covers a range of topics from dining, entertainment, politics, and commentary on local and regional points of interest. Named after Denver’s defining altitude, the magazine has solidified the now synonymous number as the defining recognizable trait of Denver. However, the magazine isn’t the only one to capitalize on using 5280 as an identifying feature of their brand. 

For example, the Denver Nuggets court logo design now includes 5280 in bold print at the free-throw line. The addition to the recognizable logo with two pickaxes crossed over a basketball makes it even more distinct. In addition, businesses and companies across Denver use 5280 in the logo, company name, or marketing efforts. From food, medical care, gyms, spas, and event venues, you will see how synonymous 5280 is with all things Denver.


Where to experience Mile High elevation

One of the most notable 5280 establishments is the 5280 Burger Bar. At this local staple, they serve an array of craft burgers, appetizers, sides, and house-made ice creams. This popular establishment has excellent ratings and reviews. It is a must-visit for anyone stopping by the Mile High City. In addition, a couple of other locations in Denver that make the most of the Mile High moniker include: 

  1. Coors Field has 865 seats in the “nosebleed” section that states “mark the magic elevation figure.” 
  2. City Park Mile High Loop: boasts “the trail follows the 5,280 contour of City Park for 3.5 miles, so you can get your full 5k training done at one mile above sea level. Along the way, you’ll see markers that point to where the trail hits exactly at a mile high”.

Why is a mile 5280 feet?

Fun fact: Queen Elizabeth is responsible for how we now measure the distance of the modern mile. Before the 16th century, Romans measured a mile as 5,000 Roman feet. The Romans had initially used literal foot lengths to measure distances. According to, the measurements were made “from the point at which the heel of one foot was raised to the point at which it was set down again after an intervening step by the other foot.”


More Mile High history

Scientists continue to be stumped by how Denver’s elevation got to 5,280 feet. Specifically, because Denver isn’t situated in the actual mountains. However, reveals that “Two years ago, a couple of geologists from the University of Colorado Boulder made national news when they published what is considered to be the best theory: crustal hydration.” A scientific theory still undergoing testing, says that “the answer has to do with water. Millions of years ago, water got trapped under the Earth’s crust, creating buoyancy and lift for Denver and its surrounding region.”

Denver’s unique and vibrant history is filled with incredible stories of perseverance. Early tales include the gold rush, marked by events like the 1863 fire that destroyed most of Denver’s business district. Additionally, the flash flood that came through Cherry Creek in 1864 causing mass destruction and death. Then there was the Indian war that caused upheaval and food shortages are among the significant historical markers. 

The Denver we now know was forever changed by the gold rush and events that followed. Most recently, between 2010 to 2015, Denver’s population saw a boom. The Mile High City was considered one of the fastest-growing states in the U.S. This boom is often referred to as the “Denver Migration.” The growth is reflected in the increased opportunities in jobs, high GDP growth, combined with beautiful mountain surroundings. Denver offers an attractive lifestyle that continues to drive migration. Most will discover that the average Denverite is tenacious and driven to reach great heights in both lifestyle and career. 


Mile High Housing Market

As a result of the mass migration to Denver, the housing market has been heavily impacted. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (DMCC) reports that “In 2015, Forbes Magazine ranked Denver as the fourth highest metro area for in-migration, ahead of cities like Seattle and Washington, D.C. Between 2010 and 2014, Denver’s population grew by nearly over 68,000 people. Of that, 62 percent was from in-migration, according to the state demographer’s office.”

Since 2010, this has translated into higher costs in rental and purchase prices across Colorado. The influx of new residents has driven costs so high that “Denver’s median home price is rising quickly, up nearly 14 percent over the last year. Rents in Denver have increased more than 5 percent a year every year since 2010. In 2014, the spike was 9.2 percent—the highest in the nation that year”, says Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (DMCC). 

This increase in housing costs has negatively impacted the Millennial population who moved here for work opportunities by the droves. The (DMCC) states that “Denver ranks third among the top 10 cities for attracting millennials”. Unfortunately though, “Millennials (who represent our current and future workforce) are being trapped in the rental market as a result of inability to save and high prices.”


 Ready to learn more?

The stats we discussed today may make home buying seem like an out-of-reach dream for many millennials. It is easy to be daunted by this information. Especially for those who have recently reached the age where they wish to settle down and start a family or purchase their first home. However, with access to down payment assistance programs and even the ability to use gift money toward a down payment, it is possible to buy a Denver area home as a millennial.

If you are one of the many millennials impacted by or shut out of the current housing market, don’t hesitate to call and have your questions answered by an expert. We are here to answer questions, provide you with options, and help you get into that first or second home. So call (303) 695-5900 today and get empowered with the information you need to make your goals a reality.

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