Travelling over the various mountain passes can be treacherous in the wintertime. Mountain weather is unpredictable, and traffic standstills are common due to the sheer number of people heading to various ski resorts for the weekend. Not to mention traffic backups due to ice, rockfall, or unfortunate accidents.
If you’re headed to Aspen, you’re probably hoping to enjoy your weekend (or week, or month) away. To maximize enjoyment, we’ve got some tips to reduce travel stress when driving to Aspen Snowmass in winter.
Check the Traffic and the Roads
Are you driving to Aspen from Denver? In the wintertime, weekends mean a mass exodus of hopeful skiers and snowboarders. Sometimes even hot springs seekers.
Because “everyone” is ready to ditch the city for slopeside adventures come Friday, I-70 gets crowded quickly. Due to frequent winter ice and snow (and wind and rockfall) on the passes, accidents do happen and delays are frequent.
Before officially embarking on your trip, take a look at road conditions and traffic flow via https://www.cotrip.org/home.htmhttps://www.cotrip.org/home.htm. You can jump right to travel alerts for I-70 and CO-82, the two main roads you’ll be using enroute to Aspen Snowmass.
Try to time your drive to avoid peak ski traffic (Friday night, Saturday morning and Sunday morning). If your schedule is flexible, plan to drive early or late, when fewer people are on the roads. That said, roads can be icier when the sun’s not shining, so keep that in mind. I
Is the drive from Denver to Aspen scary? That depends largely on the weather. Snow, ice, wind, and low visibility (clouds, fog, dark mornings and evenings) can turn an easy drive into a treacherous one.
Be sure to check the weather forecast for a few days before you’re planning to drive to Aspen Snowmass and, if possible, alter your departure day/time to avoid serious winter weather. Also remember that snowplows, while slow, need plenty of space to clear the roads, so plan extra time for your drive and keep road rage at bay!
Whether you’re driving yourself or someone else is playing chauffeur, make sure you’re got confidence in the vehicle transporting you. If you’re renting a car to drive to Aspen in the winter, choose a rental with AWD or 4WD. The more power the engine you choose, the more smoothly (and quickly) you’ll handle the steep grades.
Speaking of steep grades, check the condition of your brakes. Anti-lock brake systems can be additionally helpful in winter road conditions.
Also test the function of your windshield wipers, headlights, and heater/defroster. Check your levels of windshield wiper fluid and coolant. And don’t forget to pack an ice scraper, winter coat, boots and gloves. An extra blanket and drinking water will come in handy if you end up on the side of the road
Once you've started driving, stop for gas as often as you can. There are times when the roads close and/or an accident happens, and no exits are accessible. If you keep your gas tank more than half full, you’ll be able to keep your car running and stay warm until the roads clear up and you can get to the next exit/gas station.
Get a Grip
With snow tires, that is. Even if isn’t not currently winter storming in Colorado, the mountain passes still get icy and can be dangerous if you’re not prepared.
Colorado has a traction law that requires proper winter tires — if you don’t have them, you’re required to stay off the roads. Snow tires or all-season tires will keep you safe for the entire duration of your winter drive to Aspen.
If you’re renting a vehicle, be sure to request good winter tires (and, as mentioned in the previous section, consider renting a vehicle with AWD/4WD). Note that a four-wheel drive vehicle that isn’t also outfitted with all-season or snow tires can’t be trusted in Colorado winter conditions.
Keep the Connection
While many drivers rely on smartphones and apps such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze to guide (and even re-route) them, there are many spots along I-70 where cell service disappears. It’s a good idea to print out your directions and have a physical map in your car — just in case you need to take a detour or make an unplanned stop outside of cell range.
Make sure you’ve got Roadside Assistance activated, too. Many car insurance apps have that feature built in, but if you can’t access an app, you’ll need to have the number handy. Should you run into trouble, a fellow motorist could take the number and call for you when they reach service again — it’s important not to abandon your vehicle if at all possible.
Know Where You’re Going
It’s a relief to have already booked a place to stay before you get on the road. No matter how stressful the road conditions on your drive to Aspen Snowmass in the winter, you’ll be ready to relax as soon as you arrive. If you’d like our recommendations and assistance in booking your rental, give Alpine Property a call at 1-866-208-8905.