111 miles S. of Denver, 42 miles S. of Colorado Springs, 317 miles N. of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Don't trust your first impressions. As you drive through Pueblo along the interstate, it might appear that this bland but industrious city -- with its railroad tracks, warehouses, and factories -- doesn't warrant a stop. But take the time to get off the superslab and discover the real Pueblo. You'll find handsome historic homes, fine Western art, a well-run zoo, a delightful riverfront park, and a number of outdoor recreational opportunities.

Although Zebulon Pike and his U.S. Army exploratory expedition camped at the future site of Pueblo in 1806, there were no white settlements here until 1842, when El Pueblo Fort was constructed as a fur-trading outpost. It was abandoned following a Ute massacre in late 1854, but when the Colorado gold rush began 5 years later, the town of Pueblo was born on the site of the former fort.

In the early 20th century, the city grew as a major center for coal mining and steel production. Job opportunities attracted large numbers of immigrants, especially from Mexico and eastern Europe. Pueblo today is home to high-tech industries as well as the University of Southern Colorado. As the largest city (pop. a bit over 100,000) in southeastern Colorado, it is the market center for a 15-county region extending to the borders of New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Elevation is 4,695 feet.