Few places are as beautiful as Colorado is in the spring! As the snow starts to melt off the peaks and the rivers start flowing, the mountains become a sight that must be seen.
Nothing is as enjoyable as going deep into Colorado’s nature in spring, and while there is plenty of nature for everybody, sometimes there just isn’t enough roads.
The eastern side of the state holds Colorado’s biggest cities, Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Ft. Collins, all of which must use Interstate 70 to travel into the majestic Rocky Mountains.
All these people getting on this highway can lead to some serious bottlenecking and traffic jams. So here are some tips to avoid getting caught in the highway stand stills!
1.) Plan Early! Research is key to any trip into the mountains. Last minute trips down I-70 can get you into some heavy traffic. Making a plan before you leave can give you much more time at your destination! The next tips are all aspects to consider when planning your trip.
2.) Know the Usual Traffic Patterns. I-70’s traffic often mirrors any big city’s traffic. Friday evenings westbound and Sunday evenings eastbound should be avoided at all cost! Try to avoid heading from Summit County to Denver right when the ski resorts close and the mass of skiers all head back down. This skier traffic is worst during the hours of 3:00pm and 5:00pm.
3.) Know if There are Events/Construction in the Area. Be sure to see if there are any big events in particular areas before your trip. For example, you and your friends want to spend a couple days in Glenwood Springs, but you didn’t know that Vail was hosting the GoPro Games that week, so halfway there you slow down quite a bit, maybe even stand still for a while. That can dramatically cut down the time you had to explore! Also, be sure to see if there is any construction. All the way through the mountains I-70 is two lanes, so if there is some road work on the highway, which there often is, your drive time may increase much more than you would like.
4.) Know the Weather. Even in the spring snow can still fall. Many people will attempt to take on these mountain roads in small 2-wheel drive sedans which often aren’t well equipped to try to go over Vail pass and stall out in the process, causing some major delays! Even rain can slow the flow of traffic down as well. Heavy rain, steep grades, and giant curves on the highway cause some people to drive incredibly slow. Be sure to be aware of the weather to get to your destination on time!
5.) Have a Backup Route. I-70 can go from nice steady flow to complete standstill in a matter of minutes, know some alternate routes. If your GPS tells you there is going to be traffic coming up, hop on one of those mountain back roads! While that route may be longer, often it will save you some time!
6.) Take the backroads! If you have never been to Colorado, I recommend only taking the backroads! Mountain roads like Independence Pass and Loveland Pass will give you the breath-taking views as you climb up and down the Rockies, along these roads there are also many pull offs to take those perfect road trip photos with your family or friends!
7.) Ride with Professionals. If you are going to spend some time at one of the resort areas there is usually a shuttle company that can give you a ride there! Some companies, like Peak 1 Express, make this trip as comfortable as possible with amenities like free bottled water and wi-fi in their shuttles. Sometimes I-70 is the only route and traffic is unavoidable, so take the stress of driving off yourself and ride to your destination like a king!
Time is the only thing a person can never get back, so be sure to follow these tips to give yourself the most time possible to enjoy the many fun activities Colorado has to offer!
Written by Geoff Johnson