Contrary to popular belief, Denver is not in the mountains -- it is near them. The "Foothills" (a gentle series of peaks ranging from 7,000 to 11,000 feet high (2,133 to 3,353 meters high) start to rise 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of the city. Slightly beyond that is the Continental Divide and a series of peaks soaring to heights of 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) known locally as the "Front Range." Denver itself is located on high, rolling plains.
Although considered "Western" in character, Denver is actually located in the center of the country, just 346 miles (557 km) west of the exact center of the continental United States. With the exception of Kansas City, Denver is closer to the exact center of the nation than any other metropolitan area. The 15th step on the west side of the State Capitol Building is exactly 5,280 feet (1,609 m) -- one mile -- above sea level.