How to Save & Have a Better Time Driving to Co SKiing
By Matt Myers
Whether you are driving from your home, flying in and renting a car, or flying and grabbing a shuttle, below are some tips for you to get groceries, booze, lunch, and anything else you might need and either save you money or improve your experience.
i-70 Exits You Need to Learn
These are going to be important exits for you. Learn them and know them. There will be a test later.
Read these Driving Tips for how to manage road travel, passes, and other driving issues.
Ski Trip: Driving in Your Car or Using a Rental
#1 – Get gas in Denver.
Even if you have 3/4 of a tank. This is the cheapest gas you are going to see for a few days. The last best stop is at I-70 Exit 264, Youngfield. There is a Circle K on your right. Solid gas station.
#2 – Make sure you have plenty of wiper fluid.
Even get an extra jug. If it’s snowing or slushy, you will be running your wipers non-stop and it will just cover the other windows as well. You might need to pull over and pour some on the other windows just to see.
#3– Get Groceries at King Soopers.
Address: 3400 Youngfield St Wheat Ridge, CO
Right off I-70, also at the Youngfield, 264 Exit. Go left under the overpass.
King Soopers is a standard grocery store with all of the brand names you will recognize. This is the last major grocery store until you get to the resorts, where the cost is 50-60% higher. If you are with a family or staying for several days or both, this little tip will save you a bundle.
#4 – Get your alcohol at Applejack Wine & Spirits.
Address: 3320 Youngfield, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
This is literally next door to the King Soopers at Exit 264.
Applejack is the largest and cheapest liquor store in the state. It is just enormous and they have everything. And it’s cheap. Trust us. We just saved you a mint.
#5 – Get Organic Groceries at Whole Foods.
Address: 14357 W Colfax Ave, Golden, CO
Nevermind the address, this is just one mile up I-70 from the King Sooper Exit, 263/Colorado Mills.
Go left over the bridge, then take your first right onto Cole Blvd and you’ll see it.
#6 – Rent your Skis at THIS Christy Sports location:
Address: 14371 W Colfax Ave Lakewood, CO 80401
Christy Store: If you use our link, just select “Denver-Front Range” for the choice of area, and then “Lakewood-Denver West” for the store location.
This is right next door to the Whole Foods, so follow those directions.
First, we have a deal with Christy where you will save 20% off rentals, if you haven’t already rented through us for this trip. So use this link and book online at least 24 hours in advance to save a whole brick of cash. Again, if you walk into any rental shop without booking online first, you are throwing away money.
Second, renting gear in Denver is cheaper than in the mountains. Here is an example (and just write to us for proof if you need it, but we are just trying to keep this quick):
Using our discount at both stores, renting at the above Denver location vs renting in Keystone:
Denver: $26.32/day per person. Family of 4 – 3 days skiing: $313.73
Keystone: $36/day per person. Family of 4 – 3 days skiing: $415.33
Keystone is no different from Breck or Vail or Winter Park or anywhere else. And look, if you don’t like Christy or any of our other deals, please please PLEASE book online one day in advance. And DON’T just walk up to some rental place when you get there. You are just burning money, and these shops are counting on that.
We’re doing wizard work here. Don’t deny us.
#7 – Here are some great places to get lunch/dinner
In DENVER on the Lowell & Tennyson Street Exits
Parisi Pizza—You will struggle to find pizza this good anywhere.
Tocabe—Chipoltle for Native American food. Fry bread and such. Blow your mind.
Kyle’s Kitchen—Diner, decent lunch, great breakfast.
Swing Thai—Solid Thai food, across the street from Parisi.
In WHEAT RIDGE next to the King Soopers & Applejacks
Noodles – Smash Burger – Subway – Chipoltle – Chilis
At COLORADO MILLS MALL (not in the mall, but outside it)
Qdoba – The Keg – Pei Wei – Blue Sky Café – Chick-Fil-A – Outback Steakhouse – Summit House Grill & Tap – Panera – Five Guys Burgers – Genghis Grill – On the Border – Garbanzo – Which Wich – Tons more
Exit 241A in IDAHO SPRINGS (about 30 minutes farther up I-70)
Two Brothers Deli—Excellent soups and sandwiches. Tons of food. Great price.
Beau Jos—A Colorado institution. If you want to know what Colorado pizza is, this is it.
Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub—Solid Brewery in this stopover town.
#8 – Avoid I-70 during these three times
- Friday between 500-900pm–going up
- Saturday between 600-1000am–going up
- Sunday between 200-800pm–coming down
These are the heaviest travel times for all of us Denver daytrippers, and listen. LISTEN. You could be on the road for a long, long time. It’s not uncommon to take 8 hours to get to Denver from Vail on Sunday evening. These time windows can start or conclude a ski trip in the worst way. So if you are angling toward these times on your travels, just pull off somewhere or stay where you are and hang out. You won’t get where you’re going any later, I promise.
#9 – No ski boots in the trunk
It’s fine to do on the drive up, but keep them up front where it’s warm when you are headed to the hill. No fun putting on cold boots. Plus, you will be adjusting them quite a bit during the day as your feet warm up.
#10 – Know the Colorado Weed Laws
Whether you’re coming to ski and looking to try some Colorado weed or you’re concerned that your family will have to work hard to avoid all the pot smokers, you should read about our Marijuana Laws. To cut to the chase, it is ILLEGAL to smoke pot in public in Colorado. Will there be some dummies smoking in the trees somewhere? Probably. Will pot smoke be thrust in your face all the time? No.
Taking a Mountain Shuttle from DIA
If you are taking Super Shuttle or Colorado Mountain Express, you are going to ride with several other people and you won’t be allowed to stop once you get going. They are on a schedule. So most of the above advice won’t apply. However, if you are taking Powderhound or Vail Limos or Black Diamond Transportation, you CAN make stops, so much of the above is still in play.
But here is a quick shuttle lesson that most people miss.
The cheapest option, with our 10% discount from CME, roundtrip, from DIA to Breck for four people: $425
Here is the cost for the same from a private SUV from Powderhound: $625
That’s just a huge difference, and the cost gap turns away a lot of people. But Powderhound is actually cheaper.
If you take the above advice, and rent your skis from Christy, you will save $100 just by having a private shuttle. If you stop at King Soopers for groceries and Applejack for booze, that is another easy $100 of savings. If you grab sunscreen, chapstick, hats, sunglasses, etc you are now paying less for having a private ride.
Plus, you have a PRIVATE ride. You don’t have to stop for anyone else and you get to your condo that much quicker. Because once you get up there, then you have to trudge through the snow for skis and for groceries. See what we mean?