How to Avoid Skiing, Weekend and Holiday Traffic on I-70 When Coming Home from Colorado Resorts
You’ve made some great turns. You’ve enjoyed the wonderful Colorado snow. Now it’s time to head back the reality of the Front Range. Can this 2 hour drive down I-70 turn into 4 or 5 hours? Easily! If you leave at the wrong time, it could be curtains for your Sunday night.
Never fear, there are a few ways to avoid sitting in lines of snowy traffic when returning from the Colorado ski resorts
Timing is everything
Sunday afternoons are just out of the question. Whatever you have to do to avoid hitting I-70 between 1pm and 5pm, do it. The return traffic can be a lot worse than the westbound traffic that piles up on the way to Summit or Eagle counties.
1pm to 5pm + you in your car on I-70 = I hope you don’t have to go to the bathroom
Our beloved resorts have the ability to move over 35,000 people per hour with their lift systems. Many of those people are going to be on their way down I-70 every Sunday afternoon in the winter (and summer). Plus, don’t forget that through travelers use I-70 as well. On bad days, traffic starts at Frisco and goes all the way to Evergreen. It’s brutal.
Early turns are better anyway
I am at work at about 4am every Monday, so late Sunday nights aren’t a thing for me. If you are like me and want your Sunday afternoon at home, you have to get up for first chair, ski or ride hard for two hours and then hit the road. Most people who are day tripping from Denver and the Front Range, and even the people who have stayed the night don’t even hit the slopes until 10am. Especially when the snow is good, people won’t want to leave for home before lunch.
That’s a great way to not only avoid traffic, but also enjoy some fresh corduroy and, on the good days, powder.
Ride the chair until they kick you out
The other idea is to enjoy the entire day, ride the chairlift until it stops at 4 or 4:30 pm, and then take your time getting to the ride home. Have dinner at a mountain restaurant. The traffic isn’t going to clear until 6pm anyway, so you might as well just relax and enjoy a little more of the Rocky Mountains.
From Keystone, or even Breckenridge, take Loveland Pass
Everyone calls it Eisenhower Tunnel, but it’s actually the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel. Heading west through it is Eisenhower Tunnel. Heading east through it is Johnson Tunnel. A lot of the traffic when heading home from the resorts will be on the hill approaching the west side of Johnson Tunnel. If you are at Breckenridge, you may want to take Swan Mountain to US 6, then take Loveland Pass. It’s slow going, but at least you’ll be in motion and could save yourself some time.