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Parking at Denver
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With so much land area allocated to the airport and huge expansion plans in place, plenty of space has been given over for airport car parking; 45,000 spaces are available in multiple parking lots that are reachable by either a short walk (10-minute or less) or a quick shuttle bus ride (12-minute or less). All lots are secure and the main airport garages include a range of hybrid parking spaces, electric vehicle charging stations and services like jump starts and tire replacement.
There are pick-up and drop-off points in front of the terminal and a nearby cell phone lot if you need to wait for a passenger to get through baggage reclaim and outside arrivals. For anyone needing to leave their car, short-term parking spaces are available in the parking garages at the nearest points to the terminal. Since they are intended for short stays, they offer an hourly rate with no daily maximum.
Immediately next to the terminal are the east and west parking garages offering hourly rates with a daily fee limit; this is the most conveniently located parking facility, so it’s ideal for those with limited time who don't want to take shuttle buses. Reserved parking is available in these lots for an additional daily fee to give you peace of mind that you'll find a good space quickly.
If you want to avoid spending any time looking for a parking space, a valet service is also available. A qualified driver will meet you curbside at the terminal and park your car in the garages for you, having it back at arrivals when you return from your trip. The service also offers car washes and cleaning as optional extras.
Beyond the garages are two large economy lots that offer a reduced daily rate for just a few minutes’ extra walk, though there are complimentary shuttle buses to and from the terminal available, too.
Further out on the airport property are two shuttle lots with a park and ride service that typically offers the cheapest prices on-site. They are connected to the main airport buildings by shuttle buses, which take around 10-15 minutes to drop you at the terminal.
Parking is also available off-site through various services. 61st and Pena Parking is based at the Pena Boulevard rail station, which sits just off-site from the airport property on the edge of the main Denver urban area. Parking at the station lot has a very low daily charge and the train services connect you to both the airport and downtown.
There are also several dedicated airport parking lots based within a few miles of the airport that offer valet and park and ride services. Valets can meet you curbside at departures and park your car for you at an off-site lot or you can self-park and take a short complimentary shuttle bus ride to the terminal.
Denver International Airport (DEN) is a vast airport covering over 54 square miles (140 square kilometers) just outside the city of Denver. By land area, it's the largest in the USA and one of the largest in the world. With just under 60 million passengers moving through it each year, it is also the sixth-busiest airport in the country.
Over 180 destinations across the Americas, Europe and Asia are served with hundreds of departures every day from DEN, which is commonly referred to as DIA as an acronym for Denver International Airport – DEN is its official IATA code.
Denver acts as a hub for United Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Great Lakes Airlines, as well as being a key airport for Southwest. Although it is a major international airport, domestic flights are a key part of operations – DEN is the third-largest American airport by internal connections.
Denver International is one of the youngest airports around, having only commenced operations in 1996. Moreover, it is currently unique in the USA for running an ISO 14001-certified environmental management system.
The modern, efficient, high-capacity layout of its runways and terminals has also helped it gain recognition as one of the best American airports by Business Traveler Magazine and the crown of America's Best Run Airport in 2002 by Time Magazine.
Based just over 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Downtown Denver, the airport sits just outside the main urban sprawl of the city and has excellent road and rail connections. The I-70, which runs east-west from Las Vegas to Kansas City via Denver, passes by the airport, with exit 284 leading to Pena Boulevard and the airport terminals. The main north-south route is the I-25, which runs from Montana and Wyoming, through Denver and on to Colorado Springs, it intersects with the I-70 in the center of Denver.
Train and bus stations are located on the airport property. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) provides a train service from Union Station in Downtown to Denver Airport, which calls at several other points in the city along the way. RTD also provides the main public bus routes from across the city and neighboring cities including Downtown, Boulder, Arapahoe, Brighton and Aurora. Regional and national bus and train services connect with the airport via these local services at Union Station and the nearby Denver bus station.
DEN is quite remote from other major cities, so it is mostly utilized by residents of Denver and surrounding towns and cities including Cheyenne, Fort Collins, Boulder, Aurora, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
As a relatively young airport, Denver International was first planned through the 1980s and was earmarked to be based some distance from the city center to allow for future expansion and limit noise disturbances for locals. Its construction was subjected to numerous delays that were blamed on a variety of things, such as the computer-controlled baggage system, airlines repeatedly changing their design specifications and strikes by construction workers.
Finished $2 billion over budget, the airport quickly stood out positively for on-time arrivals in FAA rankings and won awards for exceptional service to business travelers. It ran into trouble eight years after opening when a blizzard ripped open the roof and dropped two feet (0.6 meters) of snow inside the airport, causing several days of delays and cancelations. Three years later, another blizzard closed the airport due to the sheer volume of snow on the runways, leading to a massive investment in snow-clearing equipment that has kept things running smoothly ever since.
Bizarrely, a conspiracy theory also emerged online that a secret Illuminati base had been constructed underneath the airport homing aliens and secret Government programs; it turned out to be a network of underground tunnels for moving baggage around.
DEN’s owners have some big ideas for making the most of their substantial land area; a full “aerotropolis” is planned over the next 20 years, which will be packed with hotels, offices, retail outlets and entertainment concessions – such expansion wouldn’t be possible if it was confined to city surroundings. Development is underway with the recent addition of a hotel and rail complex, so facilities are likely to change significantly in the coming years, but there are already more than 150 concessions on-site, as well as an infamous arts program and various seasonal events.
Look out for the airport ambassador volunteers and the free white customer service telephones dotted around the airport; either can help you find your way to concourses, gates, stores and services. If you need to contact the airport in advance of your trip, you can reach them on +1 303-342-2000.
There are many hotels located between Denver and its airport, mostly in the Aurora and north east area of the city, that give you the option to stay overnight either before an early departure or after a late arrival. It’s possible to use these hotels to combine parking with a reservation.
Prices and packages vary, but most of the hotels are within five to 15 miles (eight to 25 kilometers) of the airport and provide a free shuttle bus service to the arrivals and departures terminal areas. Most offer free parking for up to two weeks, but some only offer a few days as they are designed for business and weekend travelers.
Participating hotels range from simple economy airport hotels to the typical chain brand names, such as Best Western and Quality Inn, all the way up to more expensive suites and luxury hotels from Renaissance, Crowne Plaza and Embassy Suites.
A good tip for DEN is that it can sometimes work out cheaper to get a hotel and airport parking package in one, even if you don’t need the hotel room.
The DEN Airport arts program is both celebrated and somewhat notorious, having won awards as the Best US Airport for Art, whilst fueling online conspiracy theories about the airport.
A wide range of sculptures, murals and installations are displayed in the terminal, concourses, train system and outside spaces featuring site-specific permanent works and temporary exhibitions collaborating with museums, galleries and local artists. The pedestrian bridge is a particular highlight with lots of artwork exhibited alongside striking views of the Rockies and a spectacular top-down view of airplanes taxiing beneath you.
Most modern airports offer pet relief areas or even spaces where they can stretch their legs before or after a flight, but Denver has gone a step further by creating a complete pet resort where your dog or cat companion can spend your holiday getting pampered by animal groomers, masseurs, vets and trainers.
The resort features large suites for the animals to stay in with TV and web cams and a view overlooking an indoor play area and splashing pools for the dogs to play in. Cats have a separate area including a cat jungle and aquariums for them to sit and watch. Flights can be very stressful experiences for dogs and cats, so if they can't stay with friends at home, the DIA Pet Resort is a more-than-suitable alternative.
Though no formal guide has been offered by the airport itself, a quick use of the free WiFi will bring up plenty of information on the Denver Airport Conspiracy, which suggests that a series of clues in the airport art, décor and architecture prove the existence of a vast secret underground base that is utilized by secret services, the Illuminati, the New World Order, the Masons and even aliens.
Tracking down the various clues is a good way to pass time taking in the airport and artworks; you can make your own mind up about the secret base.
If you’re feeling the stress, there are massages and spas, a number of airline clubs, smoking lounges, a chapel and a USO lounge available at DEN to help you kick back.
One of the most popular features is the Canine Airport Therapy Squad, which is a team of certified therapy dogs that volunteer with their owners to hang out at the terminal to meet passengers and offer hugs and happiness. The team consists of a huge range of breeds ranging from little Pomeranians up to huge Newfoundlands, many of which also work at hospitals, schools and libraries.
Denver has won a number of awards for its range of food options, carefully developed in recent years by attracting fine dining options and some of the best local cuisine. A regular stand out amongst reviewers is Root Down in Concourse C, which operates a strongly ’green’ field-to-fork approach and lots of vegan and gluten-free variations of American favorites.
Elways on Concourse B is an extension of an admired Denver steakhouse that can make express food-to-go for your flight, whilst there's the Wolfgang Puck restaurant on the same concourse that offers a full bar with pizzas and sandwiches made from the highest quality ingredients.
With the Rockies overlooking the airport and some fantastic skiing, hiking and wildlife to see in the mountains, it's a great place for a vacation, but if you're just looking to fill a layover or flight cancelation, a more convenient way to enjoy the Colorado outdoors is at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
The gardens are about 30-45 minutes away by car and are highly rated as a beautiful, tranquil spot that’s alive with color throughout much of spring and summer.
One of the most remarkable pieces of architecture in the city is Denver Art Museum. It is one of the largest museums west of Chicago with a diverse collection covering 70,000 works of architecture, design, modern art, native art, sculpture, painting, photography, textiles and regular temporary exhibits covering everything from the art of Japanese fashion to the art of the Star Wars films.
Visitors often praise the quality of the exhibitions and the diversity of works on display. Located close to the city center, the museum is around 30-45 minutes away by car from DEN Airport.
Another attraction close to the center of town and 30-45 minutes’ drive from DEN, Coors Field is the perfect stop-off for sports fans. You can experience the great American past-time of baseball with the whole family there; it has fantastic seats throughout the stadium, highly rated customer service, plenty of places to eat, a beautiful setting with mountain views and an interesting neighborhood around it, so Coors Field is always abuzz with visitors.
Every great city has that cool neighborhood full of interesting independent stores, coffee shops and quirky restaurants – Larimer Square is Denver’s. It’s around a 30-45-minute drive from Denver International Airport and is popular with locals and tourists alike.
As the city's first historic district, it looks stunning and has plenty of galleries, bars and interesting boutiques to explore if you have a couple of hours to spare. It’s a brilliant place for people-watching.
Home to the Colorado General Assembly with a façade resembling the United States Capitol building, the State Capitol building is a sight to behold. The highlight for most travelers is the stunning interior that features large amounts of a rare rose-colored marble, namely, Colorado Rose Onyx – construction of the interior used up the entire known supply of it.
White Yule Marble covers the floors with intricate designs and much of the interior light falls through stained glass windows depicting moments in the history of Colorado. Close to the center of Denver, you can reach the Capitol in around 30-45 minutes by road from Denver Airport.
Denver International is designed with just one terminal building called the Jeppesen Terminal, which leads on to three concourse buildings, A, B and C. The concourses are arranged in succession after the terminal, so whether you continue post-security on foot or on the people-mover train, you can access all three concourses and their various concessions and services. Extensions to the current concourses, as well as the addition of D and E concourses are planned as part of the future development of the airport site.
Concourse B is largely set aside for United Airlines, which uses Denver International Airport as a hub, whilst Concourse C is mostly used by Southwest Airlines to serve a long list of domestic destinations from DEN (although Alaska also flies to a single destination from Concourse C, namely, Seattle). All other airlines, including the other hub carriers, Frontier and Great Lakes, fly out of Concourse A.
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Found at 8500 Pena Blvd, Denver, 80249, DIA is a 30-45-minute drive from the center of Denver and easily accessible by road via the I-70 or the typically less congested E-470 toll road.
If coming from north or south of Denver, the I-25 connects to the I-70, after which you just need to take the Pena Blvd exit and look out for the huge horse sculpture that marks the entrance to the airport.
Besides your own car or a rental, you can also find taxi and limousine services running airport transfer services, a number of shared-ride shuttle companies connecting to various locations in the Denver Metro Area and the wider state of Colorado.
There is garage, economy, valet and short-term parking available at DEN – you can find the parking option for you by searching via the form on our homepage.
Numerous shuttle bus services operated by private companies and some of the local hotels run to and from the airport. Hotel shuttles are usually free, but only take you direct to the hotel, whilst private hires can vary on cost and locations. Most of them, however, will run to key destinations within the Denver Metro Area.
Public bus services operate the route and provide a low-cost way to travel to the airport from Downtown Denver and other locations. There is a bus station at the airport itself inside the DEN Transit center, which is next to the Westin Hotel. Numerous services run as often as every 15 minutes at peak times and are provided by the Regional Transportation District (RTD) for local destinations and the Colorado state “Bustang” service for locations throughout the state.
A train route directly connects Downtown to the airport train station in the DEN Transit Center next to the Westin Hotel. There are several stops at points throughout Denver with the route beginning at Denver Union Station, which is connected to the rest of the rail network in the area.
The main criticism DEN receives is that there are regular short delays; de-planing and reclaiming hold baggage is often slow, so this, in turn, holds up other flights at busy times. Regular travelers through DEN state that it is a common problem, so it's best to leave at least three hours to get from Downtown Denver to your seat on the airplane.
Another regular criticism of DEN is a lack of places to charge your cell phone or other devices, so try to make sure you're fully charged before you leave and consider bringing a small wind-up or solar charger with you just in case.
Long lines at security checkpoints are rare at the airport, but one workaround if you're traveling from concourse A and it is busy is to look out for the security checkpoint located on the pedestrian bridge – the lines there are usually shorter according to regular travelers. Across the whole airport, security lines are usually at their worst on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings.
If you do need to stay overnight for an early flight or because of a cancelation, remember there is a Westin hotel on-site. Many previous passengers report that it's a decent airport to sleep in if you search out some of the quiet corridors, but be warned that peace and quiet is a rarity in the airport.
DEN offers such a good experience during primary opening hours that it's easy to assume everything will keep running throughout the night, but concessions tend to close down overnight and the only 24-hour food options are fast food restaurants.
Denver International Airport is one of the largest in the world by land area; it covers an incredible 54 square miles (140 square kilometers).
It also boasts the longest runway for public use in the country, Runway 16R/34L, which is 16,000 feet (4,877 meters) long. By passenger traffic, almost 60 million people use the airport every year, making it the sixth-busiest in the country and 18th-busiest in the world. However, DEN is heavily focused on internal flights, so it has the third-largest domestic connection network in the USA.
The building of the airport is a story of many delays. Originally scheduled to be open in October 1993, it was pushed back to December, then March 1994, then May 1994. It finally officially opened for business and took over as the region’s primary international airport in February 1995, which was years behind schedule and around $2 billion over budget.
DEN is in the middle section of the USA on a huge site located 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north east of the city of Denver, Colorado. It is close to the intersection between the north-south I-25 and the east-west I-70.
Its location in the north east corner of Colorado puts it on the edge of the Great Plains where they meet the Rocky Mountains. As an isolated airport almost 600 miles (965.6 kilometers) from Kansas City, DEN is critically located for passengers and cargo alike.
Unusually for an American airport, DEN has completely free WiFi and you don't even have to watch an advert to access it for as long as you need.
Whilst the DEN conspiracy theory suggests a substantial subterranean city of secretive operations, underneath the airport is simply a large network of tunnels used by airline employees to move baggage around via baggage trucks. The ill-fated computer-controlled baggage system that contributed to delays in completing the airport still sits in the tunnels, too.
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