Denver International Airport

dia-airport-graphicDenver International Airport, or DIA, as it is known serves Denver and the surrounding areas.

The most important thing to know about the airport, is that it is nowhere near Denver. Many locals joke that that airport is actually in Kansas. That is an exaggeration, of course, but it is not without merit.

DIA is technically in Denver, but only thanks to the kind of boundary gerrymandering that is unconstitutional if used for anything other than artificially including airports inside of city limits.

To find DIA on Google Maps, type in Denver, CO. Then, zoom out. Zoom out again. Zoom out again. Now scroll to the right.  Look for a big gray area to the Northeast of Denver.  That is Denver International Airport. You can’t even see the Rocky Mountains from there.

The airport is 40 minutes from downtown in good traffic, but can take significantly longer to reach during rush hour. If you are not going toward downtown, Denver’s only toll road E-470 can get you to the northernmost or southernmost ends of the Denver metro area much faster.

Don’t bother with it for anything close to the center of the metro region. E-470 is a “loop” that doesn’t connect up on the West side that runs around the OUTER edge of the metro area. They say, that in Denver, the only thing further East than E-470 is DIA.

The good news is that parking is relatively easy at DIA compared to other airports at all times except the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It is also cheaper than a lot of other metropolitan airports with close-in garage parking going for $18 a day and further out, but still walkable parking lots costing $10 for parking.

Unless you are going downtown and staying downtown the whole duration of your trip, rent a car. With the exception of a 15 block area downtown, this is not a walking city.

Every downtown Denver motel and hotel has parking of some sort, and while the locals will complain loudly about the rates, they are much lower than in other major cities. Valet parking at most hotels is about $30 a day with self-park costing $15 to $20 depending upon the hotel.

Taxis are not common except at hotels and a couple of other spots. Otherwise, you’ll have to make a phone call and then wait for one to show up. Cab fare from the airport will typically pay for a full-day of car rental, with a round trip costing you at least what a 2-day rental would cost.

Plan ahead and get a discount car reservation and you might be able to rent a car for the whole week for the same price as a rountrip taxi cab ride to the airport.

If you have ever driven in another metropolitan size city, you can handle driving in Denver.

Denver City Layout

Which Way Is North?

Getting your bearings in most cities can be a challenge. In Denver, and anywhere along the Front Range for that matter, finding North, South, East, and West is as easy as finding the mountains. The Rocky Mountains are to the West.

If you are ever lost or confused, just take a minute to look around. Find the mountains; that is west. You can take it from there.

(For the super directionally challenged, if you are looking West, North is to the right, and South is to the left. East is behind you.)

Denver City Streets

Like most cities, Denver has a network of streets crisscrossing its downtown area. Unlike, most cities, those streets are not always laid out on a North-South and East-West axis.

denver-street-layout-graphicMany of Denver’s downtown streets are laid out diagonally, more on a Northeast to Southwest and Northwest to Southeast type grid. The reason for this unusual layout?

Early on in Denver’s history, the streets were actually laid out so that if you looked down the street (to the Southwest) you would see Pikes Peak. The name streets are laid out in this direction. They are crossed at the standard 90 degrees by the numbered streets. This arrangement was abandoned later, but not before Denver ended up with a “weird” layout for almost all of its downtown streets. It also makes for some interesting intersection where the “normal” North-South/East-West streets meet their diagonal counterparts.

Numbered Streets

The numbered streets in Downtown Denver run from lower numbers to the south toward higher numbers to the north.  Thus, 14th Street is south of 15th Street.

The crossing streets are named streets. These streets do not progress according to any external order. (They are not alphabetical, for example).

Denver Landmark Locations

A handful of Denver Landmarks and Attractions make for useful directional landmarks.

The Pepsi Center, home of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets, is in the Southwest corner of downtown, while Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, occupies the Northwest corner.

The Denver City and County Building and the Colorado State Capitol building flank Civic Center Park on the eastern edge of downtown.