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Guide To Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport is an icon of Colorado. The Teflon-coated white spires that reflect the surrounding Rocky Mountains can be seen for miles and offer a unique welcoming look or parting glance for visitors and residents alike. The largest international airport in the United States, DIA is a standout in the travel industry.
Getting Your Bearings

Whether arriving to the Mile High City for the first time or having lived here your entire life, the tented main terminal at DIA is an architectural marvel to revere. Originally dreamt up in 1989, the Stapleton Airport replacement project didn't open until 1995 under Mayor Wellington Webb.

Denver International Airport C Concourse
Denver International Airport's C Concourse (credit: CBS)

Upon arrival to the airport, DIA is divided into East and West Terminal entrances and A, B, and C concourses off the main terminal itself.

Public art plays a major role in DIA, from the instillation piece by Antonette Rosato and William Maxwell in the underground transit system, to the emotionally moving murals by Leo Tanguma near baggage claim, spaces are curated into gallery-worthy art exhibitions all over the airport, just waiting to be discovered.


A Concourse

Frontier Airlines Plane at DIA
Kirby Hairgrove of Lakewood took this photo of a Frontier Airlines plane at Denver International Airport.

The Frontier Airlines-specific concourse is accessible via the tram or the scenic skybridge. The pedestrian walkway at DIA is worth the walk. With rotating art exhibits and sweeping views of the Rockies, the stroll is perfect for those departing out of A concourse (with an abbreviated security line as well) or for those on layovers.

Artworks such as "Dual Meridian" sculpture by David Griggs and "Patterns and Figures" by Barb McKee and Darrell Anderson can be seen in the A concourse alongside the rotating exhibitions curated by DIA's own art director. Hungry passengers can find quick bites at Caribou Coffee or sweet treats at Ben and Jerry's. Those with a more relaxed schedule can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Chef Jimmy's Bistro and Spirits. Shopping can be found throughout DIA with A concourse host to Colorado Crossroads giftshop, Hudson Booksellers and Radio Road/Fly Babies clothing and apparel.

Hours: Mon.-Sun. 6:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.

RELATED: Top Spots To Buy Luggage And Travel Goods

B Concourse

United Airlines Plane DIA Generic
(credit: CBS)

Hubbed airline United shares this terminal with others yet still maintains a strong presence in B concourse. A sculpture of Astronaut Jack Swigert greets travelers at the top of the escalators by sculpting duo George and Mike Lundeen. Make sure to check underfoot for brass inlays by Carolyn Braaksma and Mark Villareal in their "21st Century Artifacts" floor instillation.

Prolific dining options in the B concourse include Wolfgang Puck, Cantina Grill, Heidi's Brooklyn Deli, Itza Wrap! Itza Bowl!, Jamba Juice and several others. Spirit of the Red Horse offers great Colorado-themed shopping for last minute keepsakes and Native American inspired jewelry, while I-Tech X-Perience has all the newest gizmos and gadgets for the more technically inclined. One of the more busy concourses, B is alive with the energy and excitement of travel.

Hours: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily

C Concourse

For flyers of Southwest, this is where you'll be heading. Accessible only by tram from the main terminal, C concourse is worth the commute for Rock Bottom Brewery. Other dining options include DazBog Coffee, Lefty's Front Range Grille, and Timberline Steaks and Grille.

Adjacent to Timberline is the only smoking lounge on C concourse, Smokin' Bear Lodge Smoking Lounge. A $5 minimum is required to enjoy the lounge, with food available from Timberline.

Rock Bottom Brewery At Denver International Airport
(credit: CBS)

Hours: 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily

Hours: 5 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily

Main Terminal and Baggage Claim

Denver International Airport Baggage Claim
(credit: CBS)

Whether stuck at the airport or waiting to pick someone up, the main terminal is not only great for people watching, but the soaring atrium created in the tent-like atmosphere is host to several shops and restaurants.

Public artwork has found its home here as well—from the playful "Experimental Aviation" paper airplanes piece by Patty Ortiz to the monumental sculpture of Elrey Jeppesen, the historic aviation figure for which the main terminal was named after.

RELATED: A Guide To Art In DIA

Insider Tips

When traveling to and from Denver, remember these few insider tips for domestic and international travelers.

Denver International Airport Parking
(credit: CBS)

Parking: DIA has tens of thousands of public parking spaces. Garage, valet and short term parking is located right outside the terminal. Economy lots are located next to the parking garages, with the highest rates. People can walk from these lots to the main terminal or they can also take a free shuttle to get there. If picking up visitors from the airport, the $3 an hour Short Term West is a perfect option to quickly walk to the car after the initial greet and welcome. Pikes Peak Shuttle Parking is the most economical parking choice located at DIA, with shuttle service every 10 minutes. It costs $7 a day, but you will need to arrive 20 to 30 minutes early to stay on time and catch a shuttle. You can also visit the DIA website to see which lots are full and which lots are open before you head to the airport.

Security: If traveling from concourse A, skip the long security lines and opt for the pedestrian bridge security checkpoint. Not only will it save you time but afford views of the Rocky Mountains and curated art exhibitions. It's the only passenger bridge in the United State where people can watch a plane taxi beneath them.

At the gate: Check out some of the Colorado-owned businesses such as DazBog Coffee and Colorado Collection. Make sure to take time to appreciate the gallery-quality artwork through out each of the terminals as well.

To get to DIA: The airport is approximately 30 minutes from Downtown Denver. Allow for extra travel time if traveling during peak seasons, rush hours, or during bad weather. Pena Boulevard is accessible by both I-70 and E-470, E-470 is a toll road.

More Traveler Tips: Even before leaving the house call the airline to see that it's on time. Check in online if possible. Plan on arriving at the airport 2 hours prior to the flight departure time. To get through security as smoothly as possible, remember it's one carry-on bag and one personal item per traveler. Leave holiday gifts unwrapped -- the Transportation Security Administration may open wrapped packages to check the contents.

Mustang At Denver International Airport
The Mustang statue at Denver International Airport. The title of the piece is Mustang / Mesteño, by Luis Jiménez (1940-2006) (credit: CBS)

Blue Mustang: The controversial $600,000 "Blue Mustang" sculpture is located at the beginning of Pena Boulevard. This 32-foot, metallic blue, fiberglass work has glowing red eyes and an ominous appearance. Many Denverites have petitioned its removal since its 2008 installation, due to the frightening demeanor and evil look of the reared-up mustang. The controversial piece of work was created by award-winning artist Luis Jimenez, who incidentally was killed when a piece of the sculpture fell on him before its completion. Many see this as a tell-tale omen, but for good or worse, the blue horse stands with hooves in the air to greet DIA's guests.

Scavenger Hunt: If you experience a layover at DIA or have some extra time, a good way to spend it is by doing a scavenger hunt in the airport. Click here to get a scavenger hunt guide: DIA Scavenger Hunt.

Helpful Info

Visit to learn more about DIA, check on flight status, and browse the traveler information. There are two telephone numbers that might be useful. The first is (303) DIA-PARK for parking availability in DIA lots. And (303) DIA-TIPS for information on security-screening wait times.

Chad is an avid globetrotter and brings the best of travel secrets and expert insights to his readership. A Denver-based travel writer and photographer, Chad's travels have taken him to five of the seven continents in a passionate love affair with the world of travel and the outdoors. His work can be found at

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