Your Guide to Denver International Airport

Airport Guide

Photo by Benet J. Wilson

With its striking white tops that match the surrounding Rocky Mountains, Denver International Airport (DIA) is one of the most picturesque airports in the country. It's also one of the quirkiest with interesting art and nefarious stories behind it. Let's learn everything you need to know about DIA including its layout, transportation to and from DIA, airport parking, what to eat and drink at DIA, interesting tips and facts about this modern airport, and much more. 

DIA's intuitive layout, modern features, and unique art make for an interesting and efficient airport that's not difficult for first-time visitors to understand. If you have questions, the airport is littered with onsite staff, maps, and courtesy phones where you can quickly get the information you need. 

Construction Disclaimer: DIA's main terminal is undergoing a multimillion, multi-year renovation project. The information found below is as accurate as possible through construction projects may open and close portions of the airport throughout different phases. Visit DIA's website before arriving to be sure you're up to date on construction and what's open or closed. 

DIA's operational services begin at Jeppesen Terminal, otherwise known as the Main Terminal, which is split into a west and east side. Different airlines operate from different sides though it's only a short walk from one side to the next in case you're in the wrong area. 

Jeppesen provides parking, check-in service, baggage claim, security screening, and the main shuttle to Gates A, B, and C. Both international and domestic flights at DIA begin at A, B, and C gates. Every gate, including the Jeppesen terminal, is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and kiosks, where you can score snacks or drinks. 

Denver International Airport Code, Location, and Flight Information 

Know Before You Go 

DIA is a medium airport, and though it's growing, it doesn't experience the crush of airports like Atlanta or O'Hare. Though traffic is comparatively light, you're still advised to arrive at DIA two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international. 

DIA's busiest times include the morning hours, days surrounding holidays, and other typical busy travel periods. If you're traveling during a holiday period or during the normal crush of commuter flights, provide yourself extra time to prepare. 

Airport Parking 

DIA offers several parking options for different preferences and budgets with 44,000 different spaces. 

  • Garage: $25/day | $4/hour | Includes East and West Garages. Closest public parking to main terminals, mostly covered.
  • Economy: $16/day | $4/hour | Daily rate drops to $15 after the third day.
  • Shuttle: $8/day | $2/hour | Large lot with shuttle service to the main terminal. Gated but uncovered. 
  • Valet: $33/day | $4/hour | $16 for the first hour for days 1-3; daily rate drops to $10 after the third day | Provides quick service directly to your terminal. 
  • Short-Term: $120/day | $5/hour | Designed for passenger drop-off and pickup, covered parking. 
  • 61st and Peña: $4/day | $2/12 hours | Pre-pay only.

There are also a few private parking options close to airport property. Each private lot has its own rates and services. Further parking information can be found at DIA's parking page

Driving Directions 

To get to DIA, you need to get to Peña Blvd – DIA's main thoroughfare. Ending at Jeppesen Terminal, you can find all lots, services, and other airport-related items along Peña Blvd

  • From the South: Most visitors coming from the south can take E470 for a direct route to Peña Blvd. 
  • From the East and West: Peña Blvd connects directly to Interstate 70 for visitors from both the East and West. 
  • I-225: If you're coming from parts of Aurora or Denver Tech Center you can use Interstate 225 for a direct feed into Peña Blvd. 

Transportation to DIA 

  • Taxis: Most of Denver's major cab services, including Yellow Cab, Union, and Metro Cab offer direct services to DIA. You can also hail a cab from any of Denver neighborhoods like Downtown, LoDo, Capitol Hill, and Highlands for service directly to DIA. 
  • Rideshare Services: You can use Lyft or Uber to get directly to your gate. You can find rideshare services to the airport directly from Denver as well as the outlying neighborhoods. Prices depend on time and distance from DIA. 

RTD Airport Service

Denver's Regional Transportation District (RTD) offers several ways to get to DIA.  

Light Rail Service

Colorado's A Line provides DIA service from Union Station in LoDo Denver. The A Line departs to and from DIA every 15 minutes 24/7/365. If you can't get to Union Station, there are other ways to meet the A Line. 

Bus Service

The SkyRide Bus offers bus service from three Denver metro stops to DIA. 

  • SkyRide AA Route: Northglenn/Thornton to Denver Airport Station 
  • SkyRide AB Route: Boulder/US 36 to Denver Airport Station 
  • SkyRide AT Route: Denver Tech Center/Aurora to Denver Airport Station 

Super Shuttle 

The Super Shuttle offers pickup from your home or your hotel directly to the airport. Super Shuttle is timely, comfortable, and able to accommodate all types of luggage. Super Shuttle service ranges from $30 to $100 depending on the route and passengers. 

Where to Eat and Drink 

Denver is now known as a popular destination for food and drink, and so is its airport. You can find airport arms of many of Denver's most popular dining hotspots like: 

  • Denver Central Market (A48): DIA features a smaller version of the Mile High City's popular mixed market. The DIA version of Denver Central Market features a multitude of snacking and dining options with Culture Meat and Cheese, Sushi-Rama, and Vero Italian on top of others.  
  • Elway's Steakhouse (B Gates): Superbowl champion and current Broncos GM John Elway is beloved in the Mile High City, and that includes his eponymous steakhouse. If you're in the mood for fine dining including steaks, seafood, and wine, pull up a table at Elway's Steakhouse. 
  • New Belgium Hub (B60): If you didn't get a chance to sample Denver's microbreweries there's still a chance at the New Belgium Hub. The airport brewery and café offer a variety of beers, sandwiches, breakfast foods, and more. Every beer poured at the New Belgium Hub is brewed in Colorado. 

On top of fine dining, there are several fast food and quick service options, including popular favorites like Starbucks, McDonald's, Chick-fil-a, Einstein Bros., and many others. Dining options are spread throughout the Jeppesen Terminal as well as A, B, and C gates. You can find a full list of dining options at DIA's Dine page. 

Where to Shop 

DIA hosts a variety of shops and boutiques as well as several kiosks of different types. At DIA, you can shop for jewelry, perfume, clothing, and any accessory you could need, like earphones, chargers, and neck pillows. 

The most popular shops include local independent bookstore Tattered Cover (A, B, C Gates, Main Terminal), Brookstone (B Gates) Urban Decay (C Gates.) You can use the DIA's shop directory to look up different the different shops and which gates they're found at.  

How to Spend Your Layover 

If you've got a few hours to kill you can enjoy the restaurants, shops, and art of DIA but if you've got a long layover to hop onto the A Line for a straight shot to Denver's Union Station and the LoDo neighborhood. From LoDo, you can explore the shops and restaurants of Union Station, 16th Street Mall, or even catch a ballgame at nearby Coors Field. 

DIA Tips and Facts 

From the mountainous tops of the terminals to the bizarre murals, DIA is one of the quirkiest airports in the country and home to several wild theories. If you've got some time to kill at DIA, check out the murals and construction signs, yes, the construction signs. 

Murals and Artwork 

DIA is home to sprawling and bizarre murals which some believe are clues to a vast conspiracy. No matter if you believe the murals point to a network of underground operations or the new world order there's no doubt you need to spend a few minutes checking them out. 

If you're looking for other artwork with a dark backstory keeps your eyes peeled for Blue Mustang when entering or exiting DIA. Blue Mustang, a large blue stallion statue with glowing red eyes, is more popularly known as Blucifer due to its menacing look - and that it killed its creator. Artist Luis Jimenez was crushed to death by a piece of Blue Mustang, and it was finished by his son. 

Conspiracy Theories

There are many unwholesome rumors about Denver International Airport. Conspiracy theorists have pointed to the strange murals and layout of DIA as evidence of a secret underground base for dark government operations or even the home base of lizard people that secretly run the world. 

Instead of shoving the rumors away, DIA has embraced them during the reconstruction of the main terminal. It's not normal to recommend reading construction signs as a thing to do at an airport but Denver's construction signs poke fun at the conspiracy theories with signs like "Underground Construction, or Underground Tunnels?" and occasionally an animated gargoyle that can answer questions about the airport and acknowledge the conspiracies with a dry wit. 

Take Flight at DIA 

DIA is a modern, aesthetically pleasing airport that provides flights around the country and the world. Start in Jeppesen Terminal before venturing to your gate and don't forget to check out the murals on the way. This gorgeous airport is backdropped by the Rocky Mountains, has plenty of dining and shopping options, and engineered to get you on your way. 

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