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Thread: Denver to LV

  1. #1

    Default Denver to LV

    I am new to the forum, from the UK, Liverpool.
    We have done several roadtrips in the US since 2005 but never anything as adventurous as this one for Oct/Nov this year. I am hoping if anyone can advise on weather/general driving conditions through Colorado?

    Our itinery as follows -
    • starting in Denver - Estes Park around 25 Oct - 3days
    • Driving down to central city, looking at st marys glacier, staying in Leadville for 1 night.
    • Visiting Twin Lakes, aspen and Maroon bells on way to Gunnsion - staying 1 night
    • Visiting Crested Butte, Black Canyon, staying at Ouray for 2 nights which makes it now 1st November.
    • Was planning to drive over to Telluride and back for the day at ouray.
    • Then leaving down via Silverton.
    • Planning to stay at Cortez (or somewhere!) for 2 nights to allow a day back in to Mesa Verde.
    • Then driving over to Monument valley (which is where i hit familar territory) for 2 nights.
    • Over to Page for a night to explore the area
    • 2 nights in Zion, ending in Vegas

    Due to time of year -
    • i am likely to struggle with roads/snow?
    • will i be too late for fall colours?
    • have i missed anything glaring that i should i see on the way?
    • Does anyone now about where to park at St marys Glacier Arapaho Nat For. (i had read some comments from a resident about how it is illegal to park around the local roads by the paths to the glacier)
    • Is the #6 highway through keystone worth the detour rather than the interstate?
    • Is the oh my god road paved? And wise to do at time of year in a hire car!

    And my last question.. can someone explain the snow tyres and chains in colorado? I have read sites saying it is the law to carry them, but the car hire companies have said i shouldn't use them.!!

    I really appreciate any help. :-)

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

    Default Disruption possible.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It is quite possible you will see winter weather disruption, particularly over high passes such as Independance pass between Twin lakes and Aspen, Trail ridge Rd in RMNP, [if it's in your plans that is] Crested Butte and possibly on the "open all year" highways such as around Telluride and Silverton areas. Leadville, being the highest incorporated town in the US can be bitterly cold at night [and day come to think of it !] but is an interesting place to visit. Worse case scenario would be to have to skip Aspen and head South to Poncha springs and to Gunnison on US 50 through the Currecanti Rec area to Black canyon as we had to on our last visit.

    You might catch a bit of Fall color at lower elevations but you are getting into winter conditions by now.

    The 6 through Keystone to Dillon is wonderful as it goes over the continental divide at Loveland pass, but once again it is a very high pass and it would be wise to check the current conditions at the time of travel before deciding.

    Chain laws are enforceable and if required you must use them to continue your journey, but unless you are used to driving in the snow and ice you would be better off pulling off the road for a few hours while road crews do their job.

  3. #3


    Many thanks for the reply.

    We had wanted to see both roads, but anticipated possible closures such as Trail Ridge and Independance Pass - but i will certainly check each day before heading off. Will also bear this in mind for the Loveland pass.
    - Where is the best place to check road conditions whilst i am over there?

    So does that mean you have to have chains at the ready? Or does it mean if you don't have chains, you have to turn around and find a different route? I dont' want to get caught out!

    I will have a good read through your link, thanks. We had probably anticipated the 50 to poncha springs but hoped that Maroon Bells would be a possible side trip.

    I have tried to find as much as possible for "small side trips" as back up plans if main roads are shut. But i am not sure if the plan is futile!
    Curious question - Hypothetically, if the bad weather sets in, would you say we will have too much time on our hands and not at a lot to see due to bad weather? I haven't booked flights yet. I am tied to flying back on a certain date, but i could shorten the holiday, landing a little later again. ( I promise i won't hold you to anything :-), i just wanted to get a second opinion... my gut feeling i think is trying to tell me something)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Forward thinking.

    You can use State of Colorado site for up to date road conditions and sites like the Weather channel which is also available on TV from your Motel room.

    You can find quick facts here on winter regulations by scrolling down the page. I don't think you should worry unduly, but keep ahead with the info available before making a journey. Like I said previously, if you see "chains required" signage it really is best to avoid that route or pull off the road while the crews do the work, they get plenty of practice and are pretty good at keeping Interstate and main highways moving. Perhaps someone more familiar with the laws will be able to help out, but it looks as though having a 4x4 would mean no chains required, although it would be an expensive rental choice, and even with a 4x4 I still wouldn't recommend travelling on route with chains required.

    I think you can find plenty to occupy yourself, even if it meant heading a little further South or moved on to Utah and Arizona a little sooner than expected, depending on what and where the weather is. [if any]

    Keep in mind that thousands of locals have to go about there daily business all through the winter between town's and City's and with forward planning the worst you should encounter is a few hours in a rest area, if there was to be a storm.

  5. #5


    Thanks again Dave
    Much appreciated. My mind is definitely at rest regarding the snow chains and driving now. We are likely to be in an intermediate/full size saloon, just to keep costs down.

    Any other local help would be appreciated regarding the stretch from Estes Park down. :-)

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