Flying into Denver Airport: Your Gateway to the Rockies

If you’re planning a trip to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, chances are you’ll be flying into Denver International Airport (DEN). As the primary gateway to some of the country’s best skiing, hiking, and outdoor adventures, DEN welcomes over 69 million passengers per year, making it one of the busiest airports in the United States. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor to the Mile High City, understanding what to expect when you arrive can help make your journey smoother and less stressful.

flying into Denver Airport

At Blue Sky Limo, we’ve done thousands of airport transfers from Denver to all the major Rocky Mountain resort towns and destinations. We know Denver Airport like the back of our hand. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about flying into Denver International Airport, from navigating the terminal to ground transportation options to the best dining and shopping choices. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be well-prepared to start your Colorado adventure on the right foot.

Denver Airport Layout

Denver International Airport is composed of the Jeppesen Terminal and three concourses (A, B, and C) that house the airport’s gates. After deplaning, you’ll find yourself in one of these concourses. Follow the signs for the underground passenger train to get to baggage claim, ground transportation, and the main terminal. This quick ride will whisk you from your concourse to the Jeppesen Terminal in just a few minutes.

Denver Airport Layout Map
ConcourseNotable Airlines
AFrontier, Southwest, Spirit
BUnited, Southwest, Delta
CAlaska, American, JetBlue

The airport’s three concourses are connected by an efficient underground train system, with trains arriving every 2-3 minutes during peak times. So even if your flight arrives at a gate on the opposite end from baggage claim, you’ll be able to get there quickly and easily.

Baggage Claim and Customs

illustration of baggage claim at Denver Airport

Once you arrive at the Jeppesen Terminal via the train, head down to Level 5 for baggage claim. There are 16 carousels split between the East and West sides of the terminal. Check the monitors to see which carousel your flight’s luggage will be arriving on, and if you have any questions, look for the friendly customer service staff in purple jackets.

International travelers will need to clear customs and immigration before proceeding to baggage claim. DEN has a dedicated International Arrivals area on the north side of the Jeppesen Terminal with its own set of carousels. As of 2023, 24 airlines offered nonstop international service to Denver from cities like London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, and Reykjavik.

Ground Transportation Options

illustration of ground transportation options at Denver Airport

After collecting your luggage, you have a wide variety of choices for getting to your final destination, whether that’s downtown Denver or one of Colorado’s many mountain resorts. Here’s a quick overview of the most popular options:

Public Transit

  • The A Line commuter train offers direct service from the airport to Denver Union Station downtown. The ride takes about 37 minutes, and trains run every 15-30 minutes.
  • RTD also operates several bus routes that stop at the DEN Transit Center on Level 1 of the airport.

Taxis and Rideshares

  • Taxis are available on Level 5, Island 1, with flat rates to popular destinations.
  • Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft pick up passengers on Level 5, Island 5.

Car Rentals

Denver International Airport hosts 12 major car rental companies, giving you plenty of vehicle rental options. The car rental facility is located off-airport but is easily accessible via dedicated shuttle buses that depart from Level 5, Island 4 outside doors 505-513 (East side) and 504-512 (West side). Shuttles run continuously, and the ride to the rental center takes about 10 minutes.

Rental CompanyShuttle Pick-up
Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Payless, Sixt, ThriftyLevel 5, Island 4
Fox Rent a CarLevel 5, Island 3

Renting a car gives you the most flexibility to explore Colorado at your own pace, especially if you plan to visit multiple destinations or venture into the mountains. However, keep in mind that you may encounter winter driving conditions, so consider upgrading to an SUV or 4WD vehicle if traveling during the snowy months. Advance reservations are highly recommended, particularly during peak travel periods.

Shared Shuttles

Many travelers opt for a shared shuttle service for economical transport to the Rocky Mountain resorts. Blue Sky Limo has been providing luxury shuttle service from DEN to the mountains for over 12 years.

shared airport shuttles servicing Denver Airport
DestinationApproximate Travel Time
Downtown Denver30-45 minutes
Boulder45-60 minutes
Vail2-2.5 hours
Breckenridge1.5-2 hours
Aspen3.5-4 hours

Shuttle and charter bus pick-up is located on Level 5, Island 3, outside doors 505-513 (East side) and 504-512 (West side). Be sure to book your transportation in advance, especially during peak ski season and holidays.

Private Airport Car Service

denver to Vail car service provided by Blue Sky Limo

For those passengers flying into Denver and continuing to the Rocky Mountain resorts who want to experience the ultimate in convenience and comfort without having to worry about car rentals, finding a taxi, or sharing a crowded shuttle with strangers, Blue Sky Limo’s private door-to-door airport car services might be just the answer. We provide non-stop transfers from Denver Airport to Vail, Aspen, and other key destinations. Enjoy the privacy and luxury of our top-tier vehicles, equipped to handle the diverse Colorado weather, ensuring your journey is as seamless as it is comfortable. Whether traveling solo or in a group, our personalized service is designed to meet your unique needs, allowing you to relax and soak in the breathtaking views as we handle the drive.

Dining, Shopping, and Other Services

Whether you have time to kill before your shuttle departs or need to pick up a last-minute item, DEN has you covered with a wide range of dining, shopping, and service options. In fact, the airport is known for having an especially high concentration of local restaurants and stores compared to other major hubs.

On the dining front, you’ll find everything from quick grab-and-go spots to sit-down restaurants. Some local favorites include Root Down (Concourse C), Snarf’s Sandwiches (Concourses A and B), and Denver Central Market (Concourse A). Try Cru Food and Wine Bar or Tapas Sky Bar if you want to grab a quick drink.

You can browse local boutiques like Tattered Cover Book Store and Pick Up Stix or pick up travel essentials at one of the many convenience stores. Forgot something at home? Chances are you can find a replacement at DEN.

Other useful services available at the airport include free WiFi, pet relief areas, nursing rooms, currency exchange, and baggage storage. Several airport lounges are also accessible to passengers with certain credit cards or elite airline status.

Accessibility and Special Assistance

Denver International Airport strives to provide a welcoming and accessible facility for all travelers. Prior to travel, passengers with disabilities or mobility issues can request wheelchair assistance and electric cart service from their airline. The airport also has accessible restrooms, elevators, and TTY phones throughout the terminal and concourses.

DEN has several pet relief areas located before and after security for those traveling with service animals or emotional support animals. Just ask a customer service representative for directions to the nearest one.

Preparing for Your Trip

illustration of planning a trip to denver airport

Now that you know what to expect when flying into Denver International Airport, here are a few final tips to help your arrival go as smoothly as possible:

  • Check your flight status before leaving for the airport, especially during winter when weather delays are more common.
  • Allow plenty of extra time to get from the airport to your final destination, particularly if you’re traveling to the mountains. Traffic and road conditions can be unpredictable.
  • Consider booking your ground transportation in advance to avoid long waits or sold-out shuttles. Blue Sky Limo is an excellent choice for reliable, comfortable service to the ski resorts.
  • Dress in layers and pack a warm coat, even if you’re visiting in summer. Colorado weather can change quickly, especially at higher elevations.

Flying into a major airport like DEN for the first time can feel overwhelming, but with a little research and preparation, you’ll be navigating the terminal like a pro in no time. We hope this guide has given you the information and confidence you need to kick off your Colorado vacation on a high note.

And remember, if you’re looking for a luxurious, hassle-free way to get from DEN to the Rocky Mountain resorts, Blue Sky Limo is here to help. With over two decades of experience, a fleet of top-of-the-line vehicles, and a team of professional, knowledgeable drivers, Blue Sky Limo has earned a reputation as the go-to choice for discerning travelers.