With an average annual snowfall of 350 inches, navigating the twists and turns of our mountain roads in the Winter Park area can be a bit of an adventure to the uninitiated. To help you have as safe and stress free driving experience, we’ve answered a few of the most commonly asked questions we tend to get asked about winter driving, and even added a few bonus items for good measure.
Ultimately this is your decision, but when asked, we always recommend a four-wheel drive vehicle as the safest option during the winter months. Some local people do drive two-wheel drive vehicles, and swear that they get along just fine…but read the fine print and you will find that most use studded snow tires to help with traction, and if it’s a big snow day, many will delay a trip over Berthoud Pass until the road conditions have improved.
If you do decide to go with a two-wheel drive vehicle, give yourself an advantage by making sure that your tires are in top condition with good tread (if you have snow tires, all the better). Purchase a set of snow chains before your trip to keep in the trunk, if you don’t need them you can always return them to the store, but at least they are there if you do.
If you would rather rent a four-wheel drive vehicle for your trip, check out our Winter Park Lodging Company discounted rates for 4WD Alamo car rentals from DIA
Berthoud Pass has gone through some major improvements in the past five years, and has become a much more enjoyable drive than in years past. There are still many twists and turns to navigate, but many sections of the road have been extended to two lanes on uphill directions, and the addition of roadside reflectors and flashing corner signs have become a welcome improvement for unfamiliar drivers at night.
There are many pull outs along the side of the high way, which can be used to stop and take in the scenery, or to let faster drivers safely move past you. During daylight hours you will see a lot of backcountry skiers hanging out or hitch hiking from some of these pull-outs, don’t be alarmed, that’s just a part of the local recreation around here. Here’s a little snippet of video I found on YouTube of a jeep driving over Berthoud Pass after a recent snow storm.
The Colorado Department of Transportation will often trigger snow slides on key areas of Berthoud Pass after large snowfalls, high winds, or if the snow conditions in the high country are simply deemed unstable, to avoid the snow from self-releasing onto the highway. Any time that CDOT needs to carry out avalanche mitigation work, they will close the road over the pass, allowing themselves a clear path to activate a slide and then clear the road of any snow. To stay up to date on road conditions or closures, we highly recommend that you check cotrip.org or call 511 from your phone before heading up to the high country. For specifics on Berthoud Pass, look for US 40: I-70 – Winter Park (Berthoud Pass).
Yes, our local road crew do a wonderful job of keeping the roads plowed and gritted during the winter months. There are times however, during heavy snow storms, that snow build up might happen in between plows, so be prepared to deal with some snowy driving conditions on these days…and consider taking the free bus shuttle to Winter Park to get to all that powder without the hassle of driving.
There are many car rental agencies located at DIA. If you have a lodging reservation with us, we can arrange a special discount for you with Alamo Car Rentals, who have many good quality all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive vehicles on offer. Click here to learn more about our Alamo Car Rental Discounts. Alternatively, if you would rather let someone else do the driving, guests of Winter Park Lodging Company are privy to discounted rate on airport shuttles with Home James Transportation.
If driving in snowy conditions just doesn’t sound like fun to you, don’t sweat it. Winter Park has a wonderful, free bus service that services most neighborhoods in Fraser, Downtown Winter Park, Old Town and Winter Park Resort throughout the ski season.
Guests of Winter Park Lodging Company can also take advantage of our discounted rates with Home James Transportation, a reputable shuttle service that has been operating between DIA and Winter Park for years. Click here to learn more about Home James Transportation.
Enjoy the adventure! Winter driving doesn’t need to be a stressful experience; take your time, enjoy the spectacular views around you, and you’ll be driving like a local in no time.
@w1Nt3rP@r November 5th, 2014
Posted In: Helpful hints