Dever, Colorado gets its “Mile High City” nickname for being 5,280 feet above sea level: exactly one mile. When the average elevation of the United States is 2,500 feet, that may seem high. Yet nearly 350 U.S. towns and cities have higher elevations than Denver, more than 115 of which are even located in Colorado.
So let’s highlight places such as Alma, Montezuma, and Leadville, Colorado that don’t have well-known nicknames pertaining to their elevation. The average of these 346 places with higher elevations than Denver is 6,649 feet. And the highest among these? It’s almost two miles above sea level.
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At over 5,000 feet, all of the 346 U.S. towns and cities on the map are already among the highest in elevation. Yet the 10 places that top even these are even more impressive. So let’s take a look at the 10 cities in the U.S. with the highest elevation.
- Alma, Colorado – 10,361 feet
- Montezuma, Colorado – 10,312
- Leadville, Colorado – 10,158
- Blue River, Colorado – 10,037
- Fairplay, Colorado – 9,953
- Brian Head, Utah – 9,800
- Victor, Colorado – 9,708
- Ophir, Colorado – 9,695
- Breckenridge, Colorado – 9,603
- Mountain Village, Colorado – 9,600
The 313 residents of Alma, Colorado live in the highest city or town in the U.S. Alma’s 10,361 feet (3,158 meters) elevation is just shy of 2 miles, which is perhaps why it isn’t referred to as the “Two Mile High City.” However, when only administrative boundaries are taken into account, instead of settled areas, the municipality of Winter Park, Colorado becomes the highest incorporated town due to its annexation of a ski area in 2006.
Regardless, Alma (and Winter Park) are far from the only places in Colorado with higher-than-average elevations in the top 10. Eight more Coloradian cities have elevations that range from 10,312 to 9,600 feet, not to mention the 110 other cities in Colorado with elevations higher than Denver.
And then there’s Brian Head, Utah, located at 9,800 feet (2,987 meters). It’s the only town outside of Colorado with an elevation in the top 10. Fittingly, Utah is also home to the second-most high-elevation cities (94). That’s followed by New Mexico (53), Wyoming (45), Arizona (13), Idaho (10), California (4), Montana (3), Nevada (2), South Dakota (1), Oregon (1), and North Carolina (1).
Be sure you check out the high-elevation cities in these states on the map before we move on to the temperatures of some of these cities.
More than just being the highest elevation towns and cities, sitting so far from sea level means these places can get pretty cold. While there was only data for 11 locations (all near the top 20), these temperatures are worth noting, especially as some could rank among the most extreme temps.
Freezing starts at 32 °F—and these 11 towns and cities average just above that at 35.5 °F:
|City||State||Elevation (ft)||Average yearly temp (°F)||Average yearly temp (°C)|
Once again, Alma tops the charts. The average yearly temperature of the #1 highest-elevation town in the U.S. is just .4 °F above freezing.
But that’s where the similarities to our previous rankings, based on elevation, end. The second coldest high-elevation place is Breckenridge, Colorado, which averages 33.5 °F each year. As you might recall, Breckenridge was only ninth in elevation.
Meanwhile, Dillon, Colorado is a brand new mention. Though the 17th highest elevated town, it’s home to the third coldest average yearly temperatures (34.9 °F).
You’ll have to check out the other temps on the map.
While it’s clear Colorado is home to the highest towns and cities places, Alaska is the destination for the highest mountains.
No town nor city on our map surpasses any of the 200 highest summits in the U.S. The lowest is 11,916 feet (Charleston Peak in Nevada), 1,555 feet higher than Alma, Colorado.
Check out these massive mounts on our map of the highest United States summits.