All About Denver International Airport

Planning a visit to Denver? Park your car at the nearest offsite airport parking lot and prepare for an adventure that will start when you step into the Denver International Airport, the eleventh busiest airport in the world serving over 52 million passengers a year.

Mention Denver International Airport (DIA) to any longtime Coloradan and reactions will run from pride to anger. Since its inception and building in the mid-nineties, DIA has been both a point of controversy and an impressive example of modern technology.

A New Location

In the 1990s the city of Denver decided to close the old Stapleton International Airport and build a better, bigger world-class airport. The city decided to build the airport on the plains east of Denver.

Stapleton International Airport (the previous airport) was a good airport that had been built 65 years before but it had outlived its usefulness. The runways were too few and too small for the types of flights that were needed to make Denver truly a player on the international travel stage. Besides, Denver had grown by leaps and bounds and the airport was now in the middle of the city, surrounded by many residential areas, and it caused a lot of noise.

The new location is 25 miles from the city and seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There is plenty of room for expansion, with DIA anticipating the ability to eventually serve over 100 million travelers a year. Denver residents, however, continue to be unhappy with the location.


At first glance, DIA looks like a bunch of white tents parked on the plains. The design by Curtis W. Fentress is intended to mirror the front range of the Rockies which provide a magnificent panorama to the west. The roof is made of Teflon-coated fiberglass and supported by a system of cables similar to the ones used on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Entrance to DIA is through the Jeppesen Terminal, named after aviation safety pioneer Elrey Jeppesen. The open, airy hall contains a food court with sit-down restaurant, as well as various shops. All security screening is done in the terminal and then subway trains whisk passengers to the concourses for their flights. Arriving passengers take the same trains into the terminal where baggage claim, ground transportation, and passenger pickup are easily accessible. Though it seems somewhat inconvenient when a tired traveler arrives, the system has been lauded as one of the most efficient in the world.

DIA has not been without its problems. The construction took much longer than anticipated due to poor planning and repeated design changes required by United Airlines, a carrier that uses Denver as its major hubs. The state of the art automated baggage system never did work properly and only succeeded in throwing baggage and belongings off the system. Scheduled to open in October 1993, the airport finally opened in February 1995, $ 2 billion over budget and 16 months behind schedule.


DIA is known not only for its unique design but also for the artwork to be found within and outside the airport. At the entrance to the airport is a large statue entitled “Mustang.” It has received mixed reviews from Colorado residents but will remain in place for at least five years. Ongoing, changing art exhibits can be found in the walkway between Jeppesen Terminal and Concourse A. Artwork is also displayed in the underground train system. Look up when entering the baggage claim area and gargoyles in suitcases will be watching you arrive.

DIA has many interesting things to see, even on a quick pass through on the way to another destination or to the Denver area. Take some time to enjoy the uniqueness of this world-class airport.

S. Hurley Hall runs the Taking Off Travel Blog for off airport parking provider ParkRideFlyUSA. It covers travel destinations, business travel, travel gadgets, travel tips and more. Join our email list and be the first to hear about special offers that make your trip less expensive. Reserve airport parking before you arrive at the airport. Visit the Park Ride Fly website for a special discount offer.

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Denver International Airport is the largest international airport in the United States, and the second largest international airport in the world. However, its most notable features are concealed beneath ground level, including an inaccessible 88.5 square mile base buried 150 feet underground, and five large underground “storage buildings” which are mysteriously undergoing intermittent construction, are strikingly resemblant of Nazi underground detention camps, and are inexplicably interconnected via a complex tunnel system. The tunnel system is equipped with an ominous sprinkler system which was deliberately installed for an yet an undisclosed purpose. Queen Elizabeth II, has purchased property nearby under a different alias.
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