When downtown, you'll typically not want to wander past 19th street past dark, the area gets sketchy and the number of people walking around drops down. I work at 18th and Curtis and when I work late, I can tell a difference in the number of people during the daytime and the number of people at night. There is a Greyhound bus station at 19th and Curtis, which is open 24/7 and that attracts a lot of different varieties of people who sometimes may not have the best of intentions, if you are unfamiliar with the area, it is best to avoid that area of town so that you don't run into any situations.
They City has had a liberal policy toward the matter for a number of years until it got out of hand. I first traveled here in mid 1970's and the problem was not as pronounced then. Denver tolerance of the "underpriviledged" getting into the lifestyle in Denver allowed people to live on the streets and parks going into the 1980's. Today, they are trying to clean up the main core of downtown, but the task is insurmountable. Vagrants and homeless rest and sleep right on the Capitol grounds, and drugs is a part of it all, for sure. This is one reason I never have had a favorable opinion of Denver, and it go worse since my viewpoint many years back.
They are trying to see if the problem can be resolved, but the program is set to take place over 10 years from2003. In the meantime, churches around the area feed these people, and drugs still prevail. Where is the law in this liberal society? Tattoo shops, massage parlors, and fast food joints as well as ethnic stores have taken over Colfax Ave. Bus stops are the transportation device for them. Turnaround of the area is dubious. I did not take pictures of homeless and overdosed sleeping on the Capitol grounds, but they are there and I did not want to humiliate them, or endanger myself by taking an inappropriate picture that embarasses them.
Denver as a whole is pretty safe, especially when compared to other major cities. Still, there are a few areas to definitely avoid, and some that require a little bit of caution (such as parts of Colfax).
Safe: Downtown, LoDo (theft is a concern however), Congress Park, Belcaro, Highlands, Park Hill, all of central and south Denver except for SW.
In-between: Five Points (Formerly a Ghetto, is a lot better now but you still have to watch out for violent crime and theft occasionally), Capitol Hill (Has a lot of violent crime, but for the most part visitors aren't affected).
Unsafe: Sun Valley (the projects on Federal and Colfax), Montbello (gang neighborhood), Far northside Denver, East Colfax/N. Aurora (11th to 40th and Tamarac to Chambers), SW Denver (Westwood, Ruby Hill), Sheridan Blvd, Cole and Clayton (Gang problems and violent crime).
Denver is a fairly safe city as cities go. There are parts that are dangerous but I would say the most dangerous parts are actually not a part of the city proper. The thing to remember about Denver is that even the bad sections have good sections and even the good sections have bad sections. By this I mean every other street will be run down and have a dangerous aspect whereas every other street from that will have BMW's and million dollar houses. So it's hard to actually say what area is what. For the most part the worst parts of Denver Are Colfax, east of Broadway, South Broadway, 5 points (which is around 28th and Welton) and Capitol Hill. I would say Capitol Hill isn't all that bad but I think it gets a lot of the traffic from Colfax.
I have seen someone stabbed on Capitol Hill recently so I won't say it's completely safe, Sherman (which is the street the Capitol is on) runs through the capitol and near a lot of night clubs as well as on the blocks near the capitol has a lot of drug dealers and drugs addicts that hang out there. That isn't to say they are totally dangerous but they can be a bit paranoid so unless you have a good reason I wouldn't really hang out there at night.
5 Points isn't as bad as it was when I was a kid. I can in fact feel fairly safe there normally. I would say for the most part, it is a little more dangerous during the day if you are white, but still that's not totally true anymore. There is a lot of crack and meth in the area so that is something to be wary of. Most of the people doing these drugs are pretty cool about it and won't give you and trouble but I did just get mugged there a week ago so it's not totally safe.
16th Street tends to be fairly safe but there are a couple of serial rapists that have operated there so don't let people wandering the street pick you up and take you anywhere. And for the most part if you are in an area where you shouldn't be (meaning you're white in a black neighborhood or something) it's not really a big deal and people will usually be nice about it and tell you to leave because it's not safe.
Denver has a lot of dangerous streets and housing projects trust me. Stay away from pittsburgh community, mechanicsville, west end especially after dark, cascade rd s.w., simpson rd, bankhead courts and bowen homes, adamsville, kirkwood especially after dark, east Denver after dark, thomasville, englewood manor, jonesboro rd. s.e., campbellton rd s.w. definitely, da whole mlk drive, and trust me aint nothin hollywood about hollywood rd. n.w. Downtown Denver is very safe at night for tourists, but there are more crackheads than a lil bit especially on Auburn Ave. The safest parts of Denver downtown and LoDo. In general, stay away from all of Denver east of the capitol bulding at night. Stay away from Montbello, Commerce City, 5 Points hounsing projects and the Arapahoe Projects all the time. Especially if yer white.Denver used to be way more dangerous, especially when east lake meadows housing projects were up. Montbello, the center of the ghetto is 70% black, 26% hispanic, and 4% white.
1. A right lane construction closure is just a game to see how many people can cut in line by passing you on the right as you sit in the left lane waiting for the same jerks to squeeze their way back in before hitting construction barrels.
2. Turn signals provide clues as to your next move in the road battle, so never use them.
3. Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you no matter how fast you are going. If you do, the space will be filled by somebody else putting you in a more dangerous situation.
4. The faster you drive through a red light, the less your chance is of getting hit.
5. The car with the most extensive body work automatically has the right of way. (Remember no-fault insurance. He might not have as much to lose as you.)
6. Braking is to be done as hard and as late as possible to ensure that your antilock braking system kicks in and gives you a relaxing foot massage as the brake pedal pulsates.
7. Construction signs are carefully positioned to tell you about road work ahead after you have just passed the last opportunity to exit, but just before the traffic begins to back up.
8. The electronic traffic warning system signs are not there to provide useful information, but just to tell you what time it is and make Denver look progressive.
9. Never pass on the left when you can pass on the right. It's a good way to scare people entering the highway. Passing on the shoulder is encouraged; that's why they're paved.
10. Speed limits are arbitrary figures to make Denver look as if it conforms with other state policies; these are intended only as suggestions, and are actually unenforceable.
11. Just because you're in the left lane and have no room to speed up or move over doesn't mean that a driver flashing his high beams behind you doesn't think he can go faster in your spot.
15. It is considered correct in Denver to honk your horn at cars that don't move the instant the light changes. The city is founded upon such traditions.
While the dry conditions in Denver generally leads to that the city streets are free of snow most of the winter (however, the snow is only 30min away up in the mountains) there are occasional snowstorms, sometimes as late as May. The picture is from a snow storm in March 2003 (labeled "the 2nd worst snowstorm of the century") during which we were confined to our little apartment for several days due to the enormous amount of snow. While these storms are hard to predict, keep the possibility of them in the back of your head if you are heading to Denver.
If you can at all help it avoid the highways at all costs during rush hour. Or should I say rush hours... and hours. From about 7:30am to 10:00am and from about 3:30pm to 8:00 or 9:00pm the highways are a nightmare. I-25, I-70 & C-470 will slow to a crawl. I used to take I-25 to work in the morning and only had to go less than 15 miles, but it would take me almost an hour to get there (I quit that job real fast!) And if you're in a cab, it'll cost you a fortune and if you're driving you're wasting a lot of gas. Unless you're going a long ways, like from Aurora to Golden, or Littleton to Commerce City, or something like that, drive through town. It's way faster, even if you hit every light red!
True, the homeless are a needy population, so this is in no way directed negatively toward them. I believe the homeless fall into 2 categories: Those that can (but refuse to) do better, and those that absolutely can not. Unfortunately, it is difficult at times to distinguish between the two. In Denver, between the State Capitol and the US Mint is a wide brick pathway. On this pathway, panhandlers, homeless people, thugs, mental cases, and the like all hang out in this area (You can see part of the brick pathway on the Denver Mint section). Some even sleep on the grounds and the benches.
While at Coors Field today, I saw this. At first, I thought it was a guy sleeping next to the electrical box on the concrete platform. I wasn't in the mood today to go see for sure, but I don't doubt it.
Please be careful when walking through these areas, because they have the ponential to be dangerous. All the times I have been to Denver, I never was approached, but I still play it safe.
If you live at sea level take precautions when visiting Denver or the mountains. Drink lots of water and sports drinks with electrolytes. If you start to feel nausea, dizzy, vomiting, and severe difficulty breathing go see a doctor. People can get really sick if they are not use to the altitude. Keep hydrated and you should be fine.
Car and Radio theft are rampant here, just probably like any big city. They steal, rental cars, radios, and anything they can get their hands on so do yourself a favor, and don't leave ANYTHING in your car. I have had my jeep stolen (at the gas pump), my radio stolen 3 times.......all in the last year. I got the car back but gave up on the radio,,,,,,now i drive with and I Pod!
It was a sunny, temp 50f, and I settled down to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade on a beautiful morning in Denver. A few hours later, back in my hotel room, OUCH!!! I got a nasty sunburn, right on top of my head.
It hit me out of the blue, and I realized: the "Mile High City" is close to the sun-even on a cool day, you could very well get a sunburn. Have some sunscreen and a hat handy, even when the weather isn't warm. Especially if you have fair skin like me-you'll need it.
I had read about Colfax Avenue being a bad place to walk at night; having been to a few cities in the United States, this Avenue was the only place where I felt uneasy, due to the number of people who looked rather unfriendly, and the absence of other people in the area. This was during the day, because I preferred not to venture walking there alone at night.
The three most important things you will need when you travel around this city are:
1. Water. Its a Mile High here and dry. Drink plenty of water. For every alcoholic beverage, drink some water.
2. Use Sunscreen. You're closer to the sun here; and we have a lot of sunshine so those rays can get you no matter what.
3. Learn to wear layers, especially in the evening or mountains. The weather is unpredictable, so be prepared.
Be very careful when driving in Denver and the surrounding suburbs. Everyone RUNS RED LIGHTS. It can be extremely dangerous, especially if you are in the left turn lane and the light goes to yellow, DON'T GO. You will get hit!!! Just don't bother pulling out into the intersection (if turning left).
The police DO NOT INFORCE this law.