How To Avoid Skiing, Weekend and Holiday Traffic When Going to Colorado Resorts on I-70
I-70, one of our nation's most essential arteries, helps millions of Americans move from sea to shining sea. It's smooth, it's fast, but on weekends and holidays, it can come to a screeching halt for hours on end. It becomes very miserable very quickly because of the amount of people from all along the Front Range who want to head to the mountains to play.
Once you are in the mess, there is little you can do to remove yourself from it. However, with a few tips, the traffic snarl that ends with snowy slopes and serene mountain ranges can be avoided altogether.
The Surefire Way
There is one surefire way that guarantees you won't sit in any traffic on I-70 when traveling from Northern Colorado to the ski resorts. Go to Steamboat. Via Poudre Canyon.
Travel during traffic down time
The times during which I-70 west of Denver fills with traffic is pretty predictable. You can pretty much count on it being busy from 3-6pm, and that time expands if it is a special holiday weekend, if a lot of snow is on the way, or if it's Friday or Sunday. On busier days, it could be filled with traffic all day, but between 1pm and 7pm, you run the risk of finding the stop and go situation.
Leave Early, Have Breakfast in Summit County
When I say early, I mean early. You'll need to make the turn from I-25 to I-76 to I-70 west before the 6am rooster crows. You really have to be making this turn by 5:45, 5:15am to be safe. This will help with Denver traffic, which really starts to pick up at 5:45am. If you are passing the Kipling and Ward exits by then, you can be in Keystone's parking lot by 7. That leaves you an hour to use the restroom, have breakfast (one you packed, or one at one of their restaurants), don your gear and hit first chair. The slopes are rarely better than they are when you've ridden first chair.
Add 45 minutes to one hour to this plan if you are driving through Summit County and continuing on to Vail or Beaver Creek, or plan a mobile breakfast.
Leave Late, Shop and Eat on the Front Range
Want to try a restaurant that you've heard about in Longmont or Boulder? Have to buy supplies for the family for the weekend? Have a few work details that could leave your mind at ease for the weekend? Take care of them on Friday afternoon.
I just work the times into my schedule. If I can't leave until 4pm on a Friday, I'll have dinner, chill around Northern Colorado, shop for the essentials of the trip at the many stores that line I 25, and not even hit I 70 until 6. Leaving at 4 could turn the 2/12 to 3 hour drive to 5 1/2 to 6 hours without batting a high beam, so I wouldn't be there until after dinner anyway. You'll arrive in the mountains a bit later, but you should cruise right to your spot.