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Colorado: Is there a "best" time to head down from Summit County on I-70?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

For those in Colorado, I know the drive to and from the mountains on I-70 is a bear. Heading back down towards Denver is always going to bottleneck due to the work on the tunnels after Idaho Springs.

 

Even if I stay over on Saturday night, I need to pick a time to leave on Sunday. I'd prefer not to finish my day at noon or 1 to "beat the traffic." I'd rather sit around, have dinner, and read a book instead of spending that time going 25 mph.

 

So, what is the "best" time to leave on a Sunday? 6 PM? 7 PM? 8 PM? (I'm looking at a 2.25 hour drive without traffic.)

post #2 of 20
I have found after 10 years or so of experimenting, leaving Breck after 630, usually guarantees a traffic free drive to Denver.
post #3 of 20

A couple guys around the shop here used to drive for CME. They tell me Sunday is probably the worst day to drive towards Denver. However, if you can't avoid it, aim for as late as possible. As skier31 said, 6:30 is usually ok, but our guys are saying 7 is better. They used to feel relief when scheduled for the 8pm shuttle from Vail. That hour or hour and a half sometimes made the difference between a 5 hour shift and a 7 hour shift.

post #4 of 20

Good advice above, I'll just add to watch traffic on cotrip.org to time your departure.  You'll get a sense of when it's clear to leave and when it's a mess and to stay put.

post #5 of 20

The twin tunnels project is said to be completed by12/21.  Historically December is still a fairly light month traffic-wise, so it's not even a major issue now while the detour is still in place.  Even without the EB tunnel widening I could leave on Sundays by around 1-1:30 p.m. without having much of an issue for the return drive.  I anticipate that will be better now with the tunnel widening, but it remains to be seen where the bottleneck will occur with the widened tunnel in operation.

 

A 1:30 p.m. cut-out time yields 5 hours of skiing.  On most of our mountains that's at least 25K vertical for me (and I don't ski particularly fast).  I don't know about others, but for me that's a really full day on skis.  I feel no need to ski more than that on most of my ski days.  If I had a house/condo in the mountains then maybe I would consider hanging out until the traffic subsides, but if you don't then it actually is more of a hassle trying to "kill time" waiting to return.  Note that this can also backfire on you if there are any major accidents Sunday afternoon.  Traffic will subside in the evening, but only if traffic has been fairly normal.  I've been stuck in 5 hour return trips due to accidents and that can completely change the trip time picture (my normal return is about 1-1.5 hours).

 

The right play for I-70 in my view is to leave for the mountains early and leave the mountains early.  Do that and you almost never encounter traffic unless there is weather or an accident.

post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler View Post

The right play for I-70 in my view is to leave for the mountains early and leave the mountains early.  Do that and you almost never encounter traffic unless there is weather or an accident.


This is what my plan is as well. Depending on conditions I go this route during the week too but to avoid the I-25 North shit show.
post #7 of 20

Monday morning at 6am

post #8 of 20

Sorry, you are all wrong.  The correct answer is Monday afternoon at 4:30pm.  

 

I love skiing Mondays.  Having the whole mountain pretty much to yourself is so blissful.

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler View Post
 

A 1:30 p.m. cut-out time yields 5 hours of skiing.  On most of our mountains that's at least 25K vertical for me (and I don't ski particularly fast).  I don't know about others, but for me that's a really full day on skis.  I feel no need to ski more than that on most of my ski days.  If I had a house/condo in the mountains then maybe I would consider hanging out until the traffic subsides, but if you don't then it actually is more of a hassle trying to "kill time" waiting to return.  Note that this can also backfire on you if there are any major accidents Sunday afternoon.  Traffic will subside in the evening, but only if traffic has been fairly normal.  I've been stuck in 5 hour return trips due to accidents and that can completely change the trip time picture (my normal return is about 1-1.5 hours).

 

Seems a little too early, but if I have a deadline at work, may be the only option. Would probably ski at a more eastern area that kind of day anyway.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by UGASkiDawg View Post
 

Monday morning at 6am

 

Liking that better. :D Head straight to work. Nice benefit of being single.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post
 

Sorry, you are all wrong.  The correct answer is Monday afternoon at 4:30pm.

 

I love skiing Mondays.  Having the whole mountain pretty much to yourself is so blissful.

 

Liking that answer the best. Cut out of work a wee bit early on Fridays and catch Keystone for some night skiing. Then stretch the weekend through Monday. Four days a week--I could get into that--but I think work might have an issue with that. :confused Have to work to pay for the hobbies.

post #10 of 20

A slight diversion but what about avoiding traffic thru Denver to the airport midweek around 4ish? Any secrets or circumvention possibilities? Thanks

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

A slight diversion but what about avoiding traffic thru Denver to the airport midweek around 4ish? Any secrets or circumvention possibilities? Thanks

No options other than running it right up the middle (I-70).  There are plans to someday finish the 470 loop around the city, but right now there isn't any "Northwest passage".

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

A slight diversion but what about avoiding traffic thru Denver to the airport midweek around 4ish? Any secrets or circumvention possibilities? Thanks

Pretty much impossible to escape rush hour traffic in any major city.

 

As far as I-70 goes where do you live exactly? Can you take 6 towards Golden? What about 9 towards fairplay? 

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by rx2ski View Post

For those in Colorado, I know the drive to and from the mountains on I-70 is a bear. Heading back down towards Denver is always going to bottleneck due to the work on the tunnels after Idaho Springs.

Even if I stay over on Saturday night, I need to pick a time to leave on Sunday. I'd prefer not to finish my day at noon or 1 to "beat the traffic." I'd rather sit around, have dinner, and read a book instead of spending that time going 25 mph.

So, what is the "best" time to leave on a Sunday? 6 PM? 7 PM? 8 PM? (I'm looking at a 2.25 hour drive without traffic.)

Ski Mary Jane. Leave at 4:45 after the last run. Relish in the knowledge that the twin tunnel work was just for you. Hit Copper when it's more than a day trip. Buy an A-Basin 4 pack in good years to extend the season with the money you saved on a full Epic Pass.

Or leave late. No secrets there smile.gif
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

A slight diversion but what about avoiding traffic thru Denver to the airport midweek around 4ish? Any secrets or circumvention possibilities? Thanks

 

Here's the route the Colorado Mountain Express shuttles use to avoid traffic on I-70 through Denver.  I see them when I use this route to DIA.

 

http://goo.gl/maps/8rlCq

 

Note this takes you from DIA to your first important destination regardless of where you are skiing.  :)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NayBreak View Post

Ski Mary Jane. Leave at 4:45 after the last run. Relish in the knowledge that the twin tunnel work was just for you. Hit Copper when it's more than a day trip. Buy an A-Basin 4 pack in good years to extend the season with the money you saved on a full Epic Pass.
 

 

And that's the case against the Epic Pass... plus better skiing, far fewer crowds and free parking!   

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post
 

And that's the case against the Epic Pass... plus better skiing, far fewer crowds and free parking!  

 

Except my place for relatively inexpensive lodging is in Dillon. There's pros and cons to all choices. :)

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by rx2ski View Post

Except my place for relatively inexpensive lodging is in Dillon. There's pros and cons to all choices. smile.gif

When one has lodging, one has no traffic issues wink.gif
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NayBreak View Post


When one has lodging, one has no traffic issues wink.gif

 

But eventually I do need to go home and work. Bummer....:(

post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
I know. First World problem.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by rx2ski View Post
 

 

But eventually I do need to go home and work. Bummer....:(

Me too...Friday night and Monday morning and no traffic ever unless its' really dumping on Friday night then there have been a few times when the road is closed and it has backed up at Floyd Hill.  I have never once hit traffic on the way down on Monday morning in 10 years of skiing every single weekend of ski season.  I have had 70 closed on Monday a few times on me...but I was happy to take those days off and ski instead of working:D

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by UGASkiDawg View Post
 

Me too...Friday night and Monday morning and no traffic ever unless its' really dumping on Friday night then there have been a few times when the road is closed and it has backed up at Floyd Hill.  I have never once hit traffic on the way down on Monday morning in 10 years of skiing every single weekend of ski season.  I have had 70 closed on Monday a few times on me...but I was happy to take those days off and ski instead of working:D

 

I just need to make sure I bring my laptop in case I get snowed in on a Sunday night--wouldn't it be terrible if I couldn't make it down the mountain? I'd start working on Sunday night to get some time in. Even better, if I-70 is blocked/really slowed down Monday morning, I would just have to walk to the bus stop and be on the slopes in less than 15 minutes for first tracks. That would just be awful! :ROTF

 

Seriously, my dog would be really hating me if I go up on Friday night and come home Monday morning. She wouldn't see me from Thursday night until Monday night. I don't think my parents would be liking that too much either since they watch her for me.

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Colorado: Is there a "best" time to head down from Summit County on I-70?