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  1. Default DC to Las Vegas first weekend in March

    Just found this website- lots to like here.

    A friend and I are planning a trip from DC to Las Vegas From Feb 29-Mar 2. We'll be doing a "speed run," using a rental car, and I'm curious as to suggestions on route.

    THis trip is a followup from a trip about 2 and 1/2 years ago, from Savannah to Vegas, largely along I-40. We'd like to do something different, and are strongly considering I-70. We had a pretty easy time of it, although refugees from Hurricane Rita made it difficult to find lodging the first night; we're hoping to be better prepared this time.

    What weather conditions are we likely to face in the Rockies in early March? I'm assuming the most challenging part of the route is likely to be Denver-Rifle; am I underestimating the topography (and likely poor weather?)

    Truth be told, we are expecting a short (probably 4-5 hour) day on Friday (Feb 29) and doing the vast majority over two days. I'd like to "lay up" somewhere in western Kansas/ eastern CO, so that we can tackle the high passes early in the day. I'm totally unfamiliar with that part of the country; should we expect significant hills/ mtns until Denver, or just a gradual increase in elevation?

  2. #2

    Default Colorado topography and weather


    One of the cruelist signs on the Interstate highway system is seen immediately west of Kansas City: "Denver-608" From that point, hardly 5 miles goes by without another reminder of the remaining distance to Denver.

    You will very gradually gain elevation from the Missouri River at KC to Denver, and you'll be at + or - 5,000' by the time you get to Denver. Late winter/early Spring weather all the way across KS and CO can be anything from bluebird days to a blizzard. I'll hazard a guess that western KS and eastern CO will be the areas most badly affected by heavy snowfall, as normally only the passes get it bad in the mountains and the high plains have many more miles to keep cleared if they get a real dumping.

    I agree that roughly "Denver to Rifle" is where the real possibility of routine mountain snows arises. You might even shorten it up to, say, Denver to Glenwood Springs or Denver to Eagle. That said, there are only two major passes to contend with: Loveland Pass (which I-70 passes underneath of within the Eisenhower Tunnel) and Vail Pass. I think I-70 gets up to 8,500' elevation or so getting to the tunnel, and Vail Pass tops out at around 10,000 feet. Either or both are subject to being restricted to 4WD or chains for a short period of time, or to being closed outright for a few hours at a time so that clearing can take place. And, to me, none of that is worth worrying about, as the CO DOT is very well-equipped and they work very hard and very effectively to keep I-70 open.

    For fun, check out the "Denver to Vail" live webcams on the CO DOT website. I watch the weather like a hawk and review the CO, UT, WY, and MT DOT webcams during major winter storms. With rare exceptions, they've got the passes open during or right after all but the worst of storms.

    Bear in mind the other side of the strategy of "laying up" in western KS or eastern CO: It's about 180 miles to Denver from the KS-CO line, motels are more scattered along I-70 once you get west of, say, Salinas, and a lay-up might buy you a chance to enjoy Denver rush-hour traffic, as I-70 shoots pretty much right through the center of the city. When I'm westbound, I like planning a stop on the far side of a big city. If you were to do that with Denver, you'd have the pleasure of about a morning's 1/2 to 2/3 day's ride through the mountains before leveling out on the Western Slope and on into redrock country. You might even want to stop for a soak at the Glenwood Hot Springs. It's barely 50 yards from I-70 and is a very nice facility. I love hot springs and think Glenwood is worth a look even if you're just passing through.

    Have a great trip.


  3. Default Thanks for the tips

    That's exactly the type of stuff I was hoping for. I like the idea of stopping at the hot springs- since we'll just be coming out of the worst of the mountains, a little down time woudl be apprciated.

    Regarding rush hour, we will be driving on the weekend primarily to avoid just that. It also helps that hotels are a lot chepaer in Vegas during the midweek period.

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