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DIA Denver International Airport

Updated on March 29, 2010

About DIA

Denver's airport, officially titled Denver International Airport, is the 10th busiest airport in the world and the biggest in the United States by size. Although technically within the official city limits of Denver, DIA, as the airport it known, actually sits miles away from the rest of Denver.

As an important part of Denver’s, and the region’s reputation to the outside world, the cities in between Denver and the land the new airport was to be built on agreed to allow for Denver to annex its way out to the airport so that it could still be Denver’s airport. It is connected by a thin corridor of land around the I-70 Interstate specifically annexed to make the empty plain east of Denver part of the city.

It's Out There Baby

Location of DIA relative to Downtown Denver.
Location of DIA relative to Downtown Denver.

Denver Airport Traveler Tips for DIA

The result is an airport that is so far away from Downtown Denver that you can’t even see the Rocky Mountains from there. But, don’t worry, the tent like structure of the airport is supposed to represent the mountains, so you’ll feel like you are at the foot of the Rockies from the moment you land.

The vast size of DIA can make it seem like the airplane is trying to taxi the passengers all the way to their hotels. Once your plane does manage to get to the terminal, luggage and baggage claim are a quick and easy train ride away.

Cab fare to and from the airport runs about $45 or more each way. Since Denver is a car town anyway, most travelers would be better off renting a car. Car rentals are available inside the airport terminal, although picking up the cars requires a shuttle bus ride.

Traffic flows in the Denver Metro area are actually quite good except for during the morning and evening rush hours, and in the event of really bad weather. Although, keep in mind that Coloradoans are used to snow, so a few inches of the white stuff won’t cause much of a slowdown.

Travelers who are headed to the North or South of Denver, can save even more time by using E-470, Colorado’s only toll road to skirt the edge of the city.

Denver Airport Hotels

Because the Denver airport is so far from downtown and the most of the rest of the metropolitan area, a denver airport hotel is probably not the best bet for travelers who will be in town for more than a day. However, for travelers with early morning flights or flights that get in late, the numerous hotels that have sprung up around the airport offer a great way to save the 45 minutes or so that it takes to get to or from downtown during normal traffic. It can take much longer during rush hour.

The good news is that all of these various inconveniences come with a large upside. The middle of nowhere location of the airport allowed for the runways to be spaced far apart. While this does make for longer taxiing, it also means that the runways can be used simultaneously for multiple combinations of landing and takeoff, even in bad weather. This allows DIA to remain open in all weather, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that the airlines always are flying.


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