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Driving to Aspen in Winter: Tips for Safe & Smooth Travels

Posted: 4 Jan 2019
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Vacation Planning

Thanks to its legendary snowfall and world-class skiing, winter is one of the best times of year to visit Aspen. However, the storms that bring all that cherished snowfall have the potential to derail your travel plans. Follow these tips if you are driving to Aspen in winter and want to have a safe and smooth journey.

Look at the Weather

The biggest factor to take into account when driving to Aspen is the weather. If there are big storms making their way through Colorado, you might want to think about postponing your drive until they have moved through.

If you are itching to hit the slopes and make the most of all that new snow -- or if your travel plans don't allow you to reschedule -- simply plan for your drive to take longer than you might expect.

Make Sure Your Car has Good Tires

The last thing you want to do when driving to your Aspen ski vacation is end up in a ditch. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) does its best to keep roads de-iced using snowplows, gravel and saline solutions that melt snow and ice. Despite CDOT's hard work, if you try driving to Aspen without all-season or winter tires, you are rolling the dice.

Even if there isn't a storm heading through Colorado or there hasn't been one for a few days, Colorado's road can still get icy in the winter. Snow tires or all-season tires are going to help you stay the course all the way to Aspen. Taking a four-wheel drive vehicle that has these types of tires is an even better bet. On the flip side, a four-wheel drive without all-season or winter tires is not to be trusted in wintery conditions.

If you are renting a car, check with your rental car company to make sure you can reserve a vehicle with snow tires or all-season tires as well as four-wheel drive.

Prepare the Rest of Your Car

Before you set out toward Aspen, you need to make sure that your windshield wiper fluid is full, your windshield wipers are working well, and you have an ice scraper. You also want to make sure that you have a winter coat and gloves in the car, so that you can scrape it off in freezing conditions.

Once you're driving, keep your gas tank more than half full for the duration of your trip. This will allow you to run your car and stay warm if you are delayed in road closures.

Use an App and Charge Your Phone

Using a maps app can be exceedingly helpful for letting you know when you might encounter traffic. It will also keep you in the know should any of the roads along your route end up closing. Google or Apple Maps will do the trick. Or, you can download the Colorado Roads app from CDOT via Google Play. With that being said, please don't use your app while driving.

Make sure your phone is fully charged or you have a phone charger with you in your car. Maps apps that use location services can be taxing on your battery. And a phone with a dead battery isn't going to do you much good if you end up needing to call for help.

Drive During Off-Peak Hours

Timing your drive is essential when traveling from the Denver metro area west to Aspen in the winter. When the weekends arrive, there is a mass exodus from Denver as skiers and snowboarders head west toward the many ski areas off Interstate 70. If you decide to drive to Aspen at the wrong time, you can expect to get stuck in all that slow-moving ski traffic.

Time your drive to avoid ski traffic which is at its worst on Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday mornings.

If you are driving East to Aspen from Grand Junction, you don't have to worry about ski traffic.

Take it Slow

With incredible scenery and many points of interest along the way, the drive to Aspen can be a great experience unto itself! Take your time and don't hesitate to stop in some of the mountain towns just off Interstate 70. Many of them have intriguing histories, delicious dining, and great shopping.

When You Get to Aspen

Park your car and give it a well-deserved break during your vacation. Frias guests receive free parking with all our centrally-located vacation rentals. From your condo, you will be able to easily walk to all the restaurants, shops, and attractions you want to visit while you're in Aspen. When you're ready to go skiing, you can catch one of our skier shuttles and quickly get wherever you're going.

Now that you know how to make your next drive to Aspen safe and seamless, browse our extensive selection of vacation rentals. If you need recommendations, we have reservation specialists waiting to help guide your vacation rental selection.