Tips on Driving in Colorado
I-70 is the main interstate highway that slices directly through the heart of Colorado; providing a path from Denver to the ski resorts that lie just a few hours away. This highway rises more than 5,500 vertical feet over the course of only about 50 miles between Denver and the Eisenhower Tunnel. Because of this steep gradient; you will see runaway truck ramps alongside of much of I-70 as you are traveling through the mountains. There are plenty of scenic overlooks and rest stops alongside of the highway as well.
Throughout the State of Colorado, you will find many mountain passes that close either temporarily or for the entire winter season. You will find information about these roads throughout the sections below.
Traveler Driving Tips
Mountain Passes That Close Seasonally
Independance Pass – During the summer this mountain pass provides a shortcut for anyone driving between Denver and Aspen. During the winter months, this road will remain closed until the spring season. The alternate route to Aspen is significantly longer; this requires drivers to travel through Glenwood Springs and approach Aspen from the NW side.
Roads and Passes That Close Temporarily
Vail Pass – Vail Pass separates Summit County and Eagle County – acting as a barrier between Copper Mountain and the Vail Ski Resort. This pass will close occasionally during winter snow storms. The pass is usually re-opened within a few hours after the snow stops falling. Don’t worry, there are large gates and highway patrolmen that will block your path when this pass closes; as is the case with all of the other mountain passes in Colorado.
Loveland Pass – Loveland Pass (Rt 6) acts as an alternate route (Required for some truckers) around the Eisenhower Tunnel. This mountain pass travels directly over the continental divide, so you can expect a windy high-altitude environment up here. This is also a popular spot for backcountry skiers. You can read more about Loveland Pass through the link below.
Berthoud Pass – This mountain pass travels over the Continental Divide just north of I-70 near Winter Park. There used to be a ski area located on top of this pass. The lifts and building structures have been removed here and the ski area has been shut down. The great ski terrain still remains and this is a very popular spot among backcountry skiers. You can find more information about the pass on the page below.
More Roads and Passes That Close
Rabbit Ears Pass – This section of route 40 is located near Steamboat Springs Colorado. Rabbit Ears Pass has a lot of open/mild terrain near its highest point. This attracts snowmobilers from all around the front range and northern Colorado. There is also ideal terrain for cross-country skiing and downhill skiing.
Red Mountain Pass – This section of US Route 550 runs between Silverton, CO and Ouray, CO. This pass is part of the “Million Dollar Highway” and it is a popular route among motorcyclists during the summer months. During the winter this is a treacherous mountain pass that will close temporarily when there is significant snowfall.
The Eisenhower Tunnel – The Eisenhower Tunnel is the largest highway tunnel in Colorado. This tunnel runs underneath of the continental divide, providing a quick and efficient route for interstate travelers and anyone visiting the mountains from the Denver area. The tunnel is also an alternate route to Loveland Pass (Rt. 6). The tunnel will not close as often as Loveland Pass because it does not travel over the top of the continental divide. The tunnel begins about 1/2 way up the continental divide and than it enters into the mountainside.
This tunnel is usually the cause of a long traffic jam on Sunday evenings when many people head back down to Denver; plan accordingly.