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  1. Default Road Trip from San Diego to Denver in February

    Hi there,

    I am an absolute greenhorn to this. I am going to the US in February and meet a friend in SD for few days. From there I want to hire a car and make my way to Denver, from where I will fly back to Germany. I have 15 days for this road trip, so plenty of time to look at things.

    Can somebody tell me what would be a good route for me and what you consider a must-see. How will the winter in Colorado affect my plan to have to be there on time for my flight back?

    Thanks for your help.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default How about a loop trip ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    There are many, many route and attraction options between SD and Denver and although you have plenty of time you will have to pick and choose. You will have to do a little research and decide what your 'must sees' are as it's your trip and mine maybe totally different and irrelevant to you. The weather and road conditions are totally unpredictable at the exact time you travel until much nearer the time you travel and while you are on the road. The good news is that travelling during this time of year means there is no need to book lodgings in advance, so you can leave your plans open to change if weather plays a part. You should certainly prepare for disruption and seeing ice and snow and some delays, but it might not be the case. Sit down with a good map and do some research using the RTA site and see what appeals to you and start making notes and start to link the sites you want to see together. It may include LA and Las Vegas, Grand canyon NP, Monument valley and/or many of the great National parks in southern Utah and Colorado, it's an awesome area !

    I would also consider doing a loop trip, you could get to Colorado and back comfortably and see lots of different things each direction. Flying in and out of LA and not having a one way drop off fee on your car rental will save you money and if Colorado/Denver was snowed under, you would have more scope to change your trip around. Once you have some ideas feel free to share them and then we can make some meaningful suggestions and offer specific advice.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    SWDave has a lot of great advice.

    Denver does not get a huge amount of snow, but the mountains around it certainly do -- which is why it is considered one of the best ski areas in the US. Any route you choose to take, you will have to consider weather anyway, especially in the mountains west of Denver. That area, the ski area, has a freeway (I-70) that goes to 11,000 ft elevation and is likely to see snow.

    I'm also in agreement with Dave about the LA thing and the possibility of doing a round trip via LA. International flights into San Diego do happen, but they are a lot more expensive. So much more that my colleagues will drive to LAX from San Diego, if they are going overseas! You can fly into LAX, drive south to San Diego (only a couple of hours unless the traffic is bad), then head out on your trip.

    San Diego to Denver itself is a trip of about 1000-1200 miles, depending on the routing, if you were going direct. So normally about a 2 - 3 day drive. So you have time to stop at the Grand Canyon, or other parks. It would just depend on how much of your 15 days is going to be spent with your friends.

    Just for the record, I've been doing a lot of research on the different routes between SD and DEN, as my daughter and her family are preparing to move to Denver -- also in February.


  4. Default

    A loop trip certainly makes sense, but if you are set on a one way trip I suggest you fly into Denver and then make your way to California.

    There are two good reasons for this. First, you won't have to worry about your airport being snowed in for your departure. You'll get home and back to work on time. The second reason is that you won't have to worry about weather delaying you from getting you to your departure city in time for your flight.

    If departing from Denver, you're going to have to constantly keep an eye on the weather. You don't want to be stuck somewhere in Utah because of a blizzard. This could force you to head for Denver sooner than you intended and cause you miss out on something elsewhere. Also, you'll have warm weather at the end of your trip.

  5. Default

    I70 in Colorado part of drive will likely be the most challenging in February but it's well worth doing it as a part of round trip... It can be once in a life time experience.

  6. Default


    thanks for your help so far.

    Well, I will need to fly out from Denver and start from San Diego due to my schedule so I am really greatful for the advice to do it the other way but cannot change it unfortunately. So a round trip is not very likely either as I would need to book a flight to Denver than in the end. But that could be done though.

    What would be the route to avoid the most likeliness of having a lot of snow although I do understand that there is no way to avoid it completely!

    Thanks again for your kind help.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    There is no route that is less likely to have snow - at least in terms of any practical sense. Even if one route saw slightly less snow over the course of a winter, it really doesn't matter in your case, since that "less likely" route could still very well see a winter storm on your specific dates of travel - while a "more likely" route might be perfectly clear.

    All you can really do in your case is to plan a trip based on the things and places that look most interesting to you, stay flexible in case the weather forces you to adjust your plans, and plan to get to Denver at least a day or two before your flight to reduce the chance of having any significant weather issues - especially since the area just to the west of Denver is one of your highest elevation areas, thus highest likelihood areas for seeing poor travel conditions.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    It's certainly worth doing some research with the help of this site and good old paper maps as there is much to choose from. Your real advantage is the amount of time you have available, giving you plenty of options and the ability to adjust your plans as and when necessary. Some ideas would include the Grand canyon south rim, Monument valley, Four corners, Arches and Canyonlands NP's near Moab, Mesa Verde NP and there is an amazing drive to be had along the 'Million dollar Highway' section of US550 through the mountain towns of Silverton and Ouray. From Montrose CO you could take US50 to Black canyon of the Gunnison, drive through Currecanti Nat Rec area and over the continental divide at Monarch pass. There is so much more and weather may play a part in what you can and can't do but there are a few ideas. You could easily spend a 2 or 3 days in the Manitou/Colorado Springs area towards the end of your trip which is close to I-25 and under 2 hours to the airport in reasonable conditions.

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