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  1. Default Vegas To Aspen Via Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam

    Hi Guys,
    I'm from Australia and i am planning a drive from SF to Aspen Via Vegas.

    We are going to head a fair way down the coast i think before we head into vegas, but my question was about the drive from Vegas to Aspen.

    We are planning to go along i15 and i70 (detour past Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam) We are a little bit worried about the road conditions, I've heard it's all double lane interstate all the way but im wondering if maybe i should fly instead as I have never driven in snow before (I have plenty of experience on gravel/sand/bush bashing/general highway driving) ?

    We were planning on renting a front wheel drive (or all wheel drive) small sedan, would this be ok for the mountain roads?

    Are the conditions this year worse than normal? I've heard it's bitterly cold at the moment.

    Any help would be great.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    The Interstates seldom have seriously steep sections that would be as challenging as the mountain roads which they replaced. Both I-15 and I-70 are multilane highways that are generally kept in good repair throughout all but the most difficult weather conditions. That is why it is imperative to keep abreast of the weather when traveling any road.

    Driving on sand and gravel roads is different than driving on snow and ice covered roads. Ice offers close to zero traction, and after an ice storm keeping off the roads is the best way to ensure your safety. Snow isn't as difficult to drive on, but traction is still limited and visibility may be compromised, especially if the storm is still occurring.

    I personally stay off the roads if they are icy, especially since I'm more likely to end up on my butt just trying to get into the car!

    It is cold at the moment, but that's about par for the course in the Rocky Mountains.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default More than a detour.


    As Tim said the Interstates rarely see major disruption but you could come across delays, just keep up to date with the weather and road conditions while you are travelling. This should be easy enough to do from the comfort of your hotel room using the weather channel, and wrap up warm using layered clothing if you are out walking.

    We are going to head a fair way down the coast i think before we head into vegas, but my question was about the drive from Vegas to Aspen.

    We are planning to go along i15 and i70 (detour past Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam)
    The North rim will be closed for the winter and the Hoover dam and South rim will be a 10 hour drive from Vegas and back to I 5 plus the time you spend at either.
    If you wanted to go this way and weather permits you would be better off going on the 160 [possibly take the detour through Monument valley on 163] and 191 North to Moab and then I 70.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 01-04-2009 at 09:43 AM. Reason: Clarity

  4. #4

    Default Think "elevation"

    Hello Patrick,

    For your intended route, the principal snow/ice situations can be expected to be in areas of higher elevation. I'll make that general statement all the way into Colorado on I-70.

    There are some passes between Barstow, CA and Vegas which are +4,000' and it certainly can snow there. Heck, it snows in Vegas from time to time.

    From Vegas up I-15 into Utah, you've got some elevations approaching 5,000' in the Cedar City vicinity, before you reach the I-70 split. Just looking at the Mapquest maps and seeing some National Forest lands between the beginning of I-70 and Fremont Junction makes me think there are a couple of passes to deal with there. How high, I don't know. From Fremont Junction to east of Green River, UT, you stay fairly low, and east of Green River you're in the valley of the Colorado River the rest of the way to Glenwood Springs. While it certainly snows in Glenwood Springs, its position down low in the valley of the Colorado generally means conditions are not too bad.

    From Glenwood Springs all the way to Snowmass/Aspen you gradually pick up elevation as you go upriver, and driving conditions can get tougher as you do that. That said, there are no passes to deal with and that highway, CO 82, represents the lifeblood of Snowmass/Aspen inasmuch as virtually all of the ski industry workers use it daily and absolutely all of the daily supply deliveries use it. It gets much attention from the Colorado DOT snow removal crews as a result.

    Like all of I-15 and I-70, CO 82 is 4 lane all the way into Aspen, or so I recall reading recently. It's at least 4 lane as far as Basalt, CO.

    Besides all of that: I've flown into Aspen before, and I'll never do it again. It was absolutely the most terrifying approach I've ever experienced--right over the ski area at Buttermilk. A few years back, I skied Buttermilk and witnessed the other side of the issue, and I honestly think I could have counted the nose hairs in the airliner pilot's nose if I hadn't been diving for the deck myself.

    A front wheel drive vehicle is the minimum standard, and be advised there are areas of CA, NV, AZ, UT, and CO where chains may be required on a non-AWD vehicle during a weather event. That being the case, I'd opt for an AWD myself.

    I say go for it!


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