Downtown Denver is full of worthwhile attractions, boasting an array of fascinating museums and picturesque parks. One architectural site worth checking out in the area is Denver Millennium Bridge.
Below, I’ll show you why it’s worth paying a visit to this iconic bridge and what you can expect when you get there.
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What is Denver Millennium Bridge?
The Denver Millennium Bridge is a compact yet visually captivating pedestrian bridge located in Downtown Denver, Colorado.
It is an iconic landmark that serves the purpose of connecting the Highland neighborhood and Riverfront Park area with Lower Downtown (LoDo) aka Union Station.
Construction for Denver Millennium Bridge started back in 1999, hence the name “Millennium Bridge.” The brainchild of Ove Arup and ArchitectureDenver, this impressive $9 million project reached completion and was officially inaugurated by Denver Mayor Wellington Webb on April 22, 2002.
How to visit Denver Millennium Bridge
For those eager to explore the Denver Millennium Bridge, it is conveniently situated near LoDo, adjacent to Riverfront Park and merely a block away from Union Station.
Serving as a link between the bustling 16th Street Mall and the picturesque Commons Park area, this bridge acts as one of several pedestrian bridges in the vicinity, making it a favored route for those venturing between Downtown Denver and the Highland neighborhood.
Our experience at the Denver Millennium Bridge
After exploring the beautiful greenery of Confluence Park and the surrounding parks like Commons Park, we made our way over to nearby Denver Millennium Bridge.
The bridge is somewhat tucked away inside of the LoDo (Denver’s lower downtown) skyline so you don’t always see it standing out among the high-rise buildings of downtown unless you’re positioned at the right angle.
But if you’re crossing the Highland Cable Bridge from the north west, you’ll definitely see it straight ahead.
The first thing we noticed as we approached the bridge was the urban angel wing photo op — a perfect little stop for the Instagram inclined.
As we inched closer to the bridge, my attention veered towards the ground-level art installations.
First, there’s a fountain wall, gushing with water that sparkled under the sun on this warm afternoon. But before you attempt to quench your thirst here, consider that sign posts kindly advise against slurping this H2O, thanks to sanitation concerns.
As you move past the fountains, prepare to be greeted by a collection of towering red art sculptures reaching a whopping 20 feet high. Behold, “The Red Forest” art installation, brought to life by the talented Konstantin Dimopoulos in 2010 and voted best public sculpture in Denver in 2011.
These groups of majestic red rods not only create a striking contrast against the white millennium bridge and its towering mast but also add a vibrant pop to the landscape, especially when surrounded by a blanket of winter snow.
I’m hoping that we return back during the night time to check out how the night time visuals I’ve heard a lot about.
The bridge, standing at a modest height of around 25 feet, poses no grand challenge when it comes to ascending its steps.
A mere 45 steps await those who start their climb from the Union Station side, and just a smidge more — 47 steps — for those approaching from the Convergence Park side.
(If you have some mobility issues then there are elevators you can use.)
As we approached the bridge, I was impressed at how photogenic it was. If you’re an urban photography enthusiast, this bridge is a little gem.
Once you step foot on the bridge, you can truly marvel at the sheer engineering and architectural brilliance that went into its creation. Take a moment to appreciate those splayed stay cables that act like the bridge’s fancy suspenders, keeping everything stylishly in place.
I couldn’t recall ever coming across a single mast foot bridge like this before so it was really interesting to see the design of the steel cables up close. It’s a design that’s both functional and visually captivating, showcasing an undeniable nautical influence.
If you want to spend some time hanging out on the bridge and admiring the sights, there are some benches for you to relax on but don’t expect to find a lot of shade.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that the mast is tilted toward one end of the bridge. (If you’re coming from the parks along the South Platte River, the mast is tilted away from you.)
It’s said that this bridge is the world’s first cable-stayed bridge “using post-tensioned structural construction.”
While it may not hold the title for being the longest or tallest bridge you’ve ever encountered, there is an undeniable charm in having an exquisitely crafted foot bridge right at the doorstep of a bustling urban landscape. It’s the perfect invitation to explore the cityscape.
The towering white steel mast shoots up a whopping 200 feet, giving nearby high-rise buildings a run for their money. Its reflection in the glass windows creates a captivating sight, surely providing folks inside those buildings with a view that’s akin to gazing at a colossal unicorn or narwhal. It’s a spectacle that adds a touch of magic to the urban landscape.
We walked all the way to the end of the 130 foot bridge, crossing over the railroad tracks and regional light rail system underneath us.
Once you reach the top of the bridge, don’t expect vast panoramic views since you’ll only be about 25 feet above street level. However, you can still enjoy a decent view of the 16th St. Mall boulevard as you peer down and watch the hustle and bustle of cyclists and pedestrians making their way through the streets in the distance. This could be a good little photo op with the right telephoto lens.
Looking back the other way, you can see the Highland Cable Bridge (and Highland Bridge behind it) along with the Highland neighborhood residential buildings. From what I’ve read, it sounds like a very interesting area with a vibrant arts and culture scene.
After spending some time exploring the bridge, we decided to make our way back toward the Confluence Park area. With the sun shining and the temperature just right, it was the perfect day to leisurely wander around and soak up the charm of Denver.
Denver Millennium Bridge is a compact but beautiful pedestrian bridge connecting the large green areas to Lower Downtown (LoDo).
It’s a work of public art worth checking out although you wouldn’t want to probably go way out of your way or plan your day around checking out the bridge (it’s not exactly the Golden Gate Bridge).
However, because it’s located nearby other main sites in the downtown area, it’s worth taking a short stroll over.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.