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Tips for new years trip to CO...

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm planning on arriving in Denver on New Years Eve, driving from NC with a couple college buddies. I'm just looking for any tips or advice for a road trip like this. We have a free place to stay in Denver so we're thinking about commuting to resorts from Denver starting on Jan. 1 for about three days then heading south, I want to avoid the crowds as much as possible and keep the drive time from Denver down as well so we're thinking about A-Basin, Loveland, and since we want to hit at least one big resort, probably Winter Park unless anybody has a better suggestion coming from Denver. I've never been to Colorado so can anybody tell me what these drives are going to be like and if you know of any deals on lift tickets, lodging, etc at or around these resorts if we decide not to stay in Denver. After that we're going to meet another friend in Durango and ski Purgatory for 2 or 3 days. I know it's going to be a pretty long drive from Denver to Durango, any suggestions on the best roads to take in case the weather is bad or something, and also suggestions for cheap lodging near purgatory? Also, is Purgatory worth skiing for 3 days in a row or are we going to want to look for something else? Thanks a lot, any info will be helpful and greatly appreciated! Travis
post #2 of 12
That is a major road marathon. From Denver I'd suggest taking Route 50 through Monarch to Gunnison and ski Crested Butte a day or two on the way to Durango. When you leave Durango head straight east through Wolf Creek on maybe even swing south through New Mexico and take I-40 back to NC.

I don't know what kind of skiers you are, but Silverton is easily accessible from Durango. And by the time you get there you will have been in CO long enough for some altitude acclimatization. Telluride is an obvious diversion too, but it's 100 miles out of the way, while you go right through Gunnison, only 20+ miles from Crested Butte.
post #3 of 12
You might want to try something I'm going to experiment with this year -- stop at a ski area you go by, to break up the drive, but don't stay there. (I'm skiing at Monarch on the way from Denver to CB, but sleeping in CB.)

THis is a new strategy for me, but it looks good on paper. YMMV.
post #4 of 12
If you are doing drive from Denver up to the I70 resorts the traffic can be really bad...drive times can of 3 hours are not uncommon depending upon what time you leave, even more with snow.

FYI - I skied A Basin yesterday and it was pretty rocky...we left after about 6 runs. Loveland is not quite as rocky, however, they don't have much open. If I was doing a road trip, I wouldn't waste time with Summit County since you'll find better snow to the west (Aspen) and southwest (CB, Purgatory/DMR, Wolf Creek, Silverton, etc.). Also, you might find better snow at Monarch than the I70 resorts.
post #5 of 12
Find out the travel time from your Denver host's house to your I-70 destination for the day ... and leave 30 minutes earlier than the Lift Starting Time minus the drive time. (The resorts always try to make the drive time seem less, so ask your host.) Using this formula will have you at the FRONT of the resort-bound wave of traffic.

Since you've never been here, learn how to keep yourself hydrated ... and how to avoid a blood sugar "crash". Also, pay attention to each other and watch for signs of altitude sickness. (Some flatlanders have no apparent problems; some really need to "ease into" physical activity at altitude. Like, many visitors from the coasts ski only a half day the first day....)

Have fun!

We're supposed to have one or two more storms come through the state before you get here. It should be good.

- KK
post #6 of 12
Make sure your car is SNOW ready! Is it AWD or do you have chains? Not sure what the requirements are for driving in CO so maybe someone else can chime in.
post #7 of 12
chains/awd generally only required for big rigs (semis) along I-70 corridor (and I drive from Boulder to Winter Park 5 days per week - along I-70 to Empire, then US40 over Berthoud Pass - haven't seen chains/snow tires required for passenger vehicles yet this year).
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by jay_p View Post
If you are doing drive from Denver up to the I70 resorts the traffic can be really bad...drive times can of 3 hours are not uncommon depending upon what time you leave, even more with snow.

FYI - I skied A Basin yesterday and it was pretty rocky...we left after about 6 runs. Loveland is not quite as rocky, however, they don't have much open. If I was doing a road trip, I wouldn't waste time with Summit County since you'll find better snow to the west (Aspen) and southwest (CB, Purgatory/DMR, Wolf Creek, Silverton, etc.). Also, you might find better snow at Monarch than the I70 resorts.


Huh? Loveland was almost all open for the last several days. Even chair 9 is open now.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input everybody. I think we have it planned out pretty well, we're driving a AWD mini-van and I'll probably pick up some chains tomorrow on our way out of town just in case. There's only two of us going so we're leaving tomorrow (the 29th) in order to give ourselves plenty of time to get out there for new years since it's about a 24 hour drive. Thanks! Travis
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by eastcoastbum View Post
Thanks for the input everybody. I think we have it planned out pretty well, we're driving a AWD mini-van and I'll probably pick up some chains tomorrow on our way out of town just in case. There's only two of us going so we're leaving tomorrow (the 29th) in order to give ourselves plenty of time to get out there for new years since it's about a 24 hour drive. Thanks! Travis
Hope you didn't get caught in the I-70 nightmare of the last two days. Let us know how your trip was -- the snow is good, but road conditions have been tough because of the high winds and avalanche danger. I punted on skiing today because of my 5 hour return from Frisco Sunday evening -- at least I made it.

Note to all those that think you have to have a 4x4 to ski in Colorado -- the issue was not traction in my RWD bimmer (snow tires handles that). It was the blowing snow, lack of visibility, and amount of traffic.

Mike
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Hope you didn't get caught in the I-70 nightmare of the last two days. Let us know how your trip was -- the snow is good, but road conditions have been tough because of the high winds and avalanche danger. I punted on skiing today because of my 5 hour return from Frisco Sunday evening -- at least I made it.

Note to all those that think you have to have a 4x4 to ski in Colorado -- the issue was not traction in my RWD bimmer (snow tires handles that). It was the blowing snow, lack of visibility, and amount of traffic.

Mike
I agree for the most part. I did engage the 4WD near the top of Berthoud pass on the return trip. Didn't bother to use it in the AM and the road was completely snowpacked then.

I think I got lucky on Sunday. I had a morning class but punted for the PM as I have been fighting a nasty cold. I left WP around 2:30 and made it to I-70 around 3:00. The wind was blowing nicely in WP but was howling a white-out at the top of the pass. Traffic was backed up a couple miles from Empire towards the pass. I thought I-70 was backed up but it was just people trying not to get speeding tickets in Empire. Once on I-70, it was an easy drive back to Denver. I must have been among the last group over Berthoud Pass before they closed it and they must have already started shutting down I-70 to the West. I was back in bed by 5:00 PM.

I hope you made it safely to your destination. Welcome to Colorado.
post #12 of 12
Hey, eastcoastbum, how was your adventure?

- KK
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