How to Travel from Los Angeles to Denver by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

USA, Colorado, Denver, Highway, Interstate 25
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Craving a Rocky Mountain adventure only a trip to Denver can satisfy? The capital of Colorado is waiting 1,016 miles from Los Angeles with its mix of urban delights, outdoor adventure, pioneer history, and natural beauty. To get to there from LA, travelers can take a plane, train, bus, or car. 

Consider the pros and cons of each option to figure out which best suits your needs. The fastest option to travel from LA to Denver is obviously flying, which typically takes less than three hours. All of the other transportation choices take 14 hours or more. The cheapest choice varies depending on what amenities you can’t live without, time of year, and sales. Booking in advance and scoping out promotions/sales usually garners additional savings.

How to Get From Los Angeles to Denver
  Time Cost Best For
Train 26 hours, 25 minutes from $155 Traveling comfortably
Plane 2 hours, 15 minutes from $83 Arriving on a time crunch
Bus 22 hours, 15 minutes from $84 Eco-conscious travel
Car 14 hours, 40 minutes 1,016 miles (1,635 kilometers) An extended road trip

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Los Angeles to Denver?

Flying is easily the fastest way to get to Denver, which means more time on the ground enjoying your destination. The nonstop flight time from LA is two hours and 15 minutes, give or take 15 minutes. Obviously that does not take into consideration time spent getting to and from airports, delays and cancellations, checking and collecting baggage, or airport security lines. It's also worth considering how expensive it can be to change/cancel flights and book travel last-minute. 

There are on average 1,612 nonstop flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Denver International Airport (DEN) every week. The three airlines with the most frequent flights to DEN from LAX are Air Canada, Air New Zealand, and United (DEN is its fourth largest hub). American, Delta, Southwest, Frontier, and others also serve flights between the two cities. Kayak.com reports morning departures are more expensive than evening flights and that the cheapest day to fly to DEN is Wednesday. One-way tickets average at $109, while round trip tickets typically range from $131 to $261 (though can cost as low as $83).

Other regional airports like the Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)—which service far fewer passengers each day than LAX and therefore offer a more tranquil travel experience—might be a good alternative starting point. There are typically far fewer nonstop flights, less carriers, and less deals to be had.

How Long Is the Train Ride?

The shortest Amtrak train journey, which starts at LA's Union Station, takes about 26 hours and 25 minutes. Take the Southwest Chief through the California and Arizona deserts. Transfer to bus 8605 bound for Denver’s Union Station in Raton, New Mexico. A one-way saver seat starts around $155, but a premium fare will likely run closer to $550.

Amtrak has five classes of service from saver (only refundable within 24 hours of purchase) to premium (comes with sleeping accommodations, includes meals, and is 100 percent refundable prior to departure without a cancellation fee). All levels come with two free checked bags and WiFi (of course, that’s if the train has the technology—some long-hauls still don’t). A dining car means nourishment is more readily available than it is on bus trips.

Is There a Bus That Goes From Los Angeles to Denver?

It turns out a bus is faster than the train: The Greyhound route through Las Vegas, Utah, Grand Junction, Colo., and Vail takes 22 hours and 15 minutes. There are 12 stops between the Seventh Street station in downtown LA and the 19th Street bus station in the Mile High City. 

Keep in mind that passengers are not allowed to disembark during stops that are 10 minutes or less, and not all stations have dining options. Packing snacks is essential. A one-way ticket can cost between $84 and $271, depending on the level of service (economy, economy extra, and flexible), day of the week, and time of the year. 

New buses also have WiFi, free onboard entertainment system, extra legroom, no dreaded middle seat, and a free checked bag no matter what class of service. Greyhound claims traveling by bus is better for the environment than using cars and trains thanks to new technology like low-sulfur fuel, idle management systems, and diesel particulate filters.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

The most used route (1,016 miles) goes east out of LA on the I-10 through Las Vegas and Utah on the I-15. After passing the Fishlake National Forest and entering Colorado near the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, you will head toward Denver on the I-70. Travel time varies wildly depending on the weather, season, and traffic as routes go through cities including Las Vegas and Grand Junction. If you time your departure badly, you could hit rush hours in multiple cities and potentially add hours. 

Road trips aren’t fast but can be a fairly economical choice, especially if you don’t need to rent a car or you have a large group. It also buys travelers freedom. Unlike buses and trains, you call the shots. Stop when and where you want. Eat where you want. Grab a hotel to sleep in a real bed. Take detours to hike a mountain, ski in Vail, or try your luck in Sin City.

What Time Is It in Denver?

Denver is in the Mountain time zone, so move clocks forward one hour from LA time when you arrive. 

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

Once at DEN, travelers can take the A Line train to Union Station—a gorgeous Beaux-Arts building filled with locally-owned restaurants and bars—in downtown for $10.50.

What Is There to Do in Denver?

Colorado’s capital has something for everyone. Head outside to hike, bike, and even tube rapids (Clear Creek) without leaving the city limits. Mix it up by brushing up on old West history, touring a brewery, or learning how to make money at the U.S. Mint. Get your art fix by checking out both the Insta-famous big blue bear and the Denver Art Museum. Shop Larimer Square. See a concert at one of the country’s most breathtaking amphitheaters (Red Rocks). Eat, drink, and get mile high at foodie-approved restaurants, cocktail bars, and hipster dispensaries. More itinerary-filling ideas can be found in our complete guide to the city.

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