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Winter Travel in Western Colorado

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Winter travel in western Colorado can be a challenge and has its own set of hazards. Many winter winter days can be sunny and 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but many days can be below freezing, heavy snow and fierce winds. These extreme weather conditions can make travel challenging, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area and conditions.

Rental cars
Western Colorado has only small regional airports and extremely limited public transportation so most winter travel in western Colorado is done by car. Your average small economy rental car can be very insufficient for many winter conditions in western Colorado. It can be a very wise idea to upgrade your car at the rental agency to an all wheel drive or a 4 wheel drive.

An all wheel drive or a 4 wheel drive will give you much more traction in the snow and on icy surfaces, which can help you not slide off of the road and not get stuck in snow. Many times the snow will fall faster than the snow plows can keep up with also the wind can blow piles of snow onto the road in a matter of minutes creating €snow drifts€. An all wheel drive or a 4 wheel drive vehicle can help you get through these conditions, but many times the snow can get too deep so you have to pay attention to road conditions, warnings and travel alerts.

Mountain passes
Mountain passes are another Colorado winter driving hazard. The continental divide of the Rocky Mountains runs all the way through Colorado from the north to the south. Passes over the Rocky Mountains are usually very high, from 9,000ft to 11,000ft, and the weather at such high elevations can be very extreme with ice and blizzard-like conditions. Sometimes during extreme weather, the passes will close until the weather calms down and they can clear off the roads. Other times, they close the passes vehicles without 4wheel drive or chains.
If you are traveling over any of the passes in the winter, it is good to keep an eye on the weather for any storm systems that might make the passes hazardous or close them down.

Winter driving safety tips
The proper type of vehicle along with winter driving methods can help a lot. A few simple winter driving techniques and practices can save you from a lot of trouble.
-Always give yourself plenty of braking room and distance; especially on the ice.
-Know your vehicle’s limitations, some people will take their car into a large vacant parking lot and slide around just to get a feel for the car’s €edge€ and how the brakes and steering will handle on the ice.
-Keep warm clothing inside the car, in case you get stuck, slide off the road or get stranded. Also keep water and maybe some food. Western Colorado has places that are sparsely populated and when the weather gets bad, many people stay home. Cell phone service can also be spotty in some areas so being prepared to wait out a storm for a few hours could be vital.

By following a few safety guidelines, and using some common sense, you should be just fine and prepared for almost any kind of winter driving you encounter in Colorado. Hopefully, the roads will be dry, the weather will be sunny and your trip will be fun and pleasant.

Six New Improvements Ski Resorts in Colorado

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Here are the highlights of what’s new this season at some of ski areas within two-hours’ driving distance from Denver International Airport.

Winter Park

About 70 miles from downtown Denver to Winter Park, an incredibly popular ski resort for folks who live in and near the Mile High City. Addition, new this season is a nifty Ski & Ride School program called the “Family Easy Start.” For one all-inclusive price ($679 for a half day/$859 for a full day), a family of four can get four lift tickets, four equipment rentals, a private instructor, and access to the Private Lesson Center, allowing those who want to enjoy the shared experience of learning to ski or snowboard to do so as a family. Plus, this winter is Winter Park’s “Cirque Sled,” a snowcat ride that will provide intermediate and expert skiers and riders easier access to the Cirque, where they can access 1,332 acres of spectacular off-piste terrain.

Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain mark an investment new lifts of nearly $7 million in capital improvements at the resort this season. The high-alpine Storm King surface lift, in operation since 1985, is being replaced by a brand new surface T-Bar lift. There’s also a new “West Ridge Platter” surface lift at the top of the Sierra chairlift, providing easier access to some of Copper’s premier black-diamond and bowl skiing. With Copper’s new Sherpa mobile app. It’s a hands-free, geo-aware mountain guide that will tell you where you are on the mountain, with trail-specific tips from locals, ski patrollers, and longtime Copper employees who truly know the slopes inside and out. Since the app is audio-driven, you get all the advice delivered through your headphones; the GPS coordinates know where you are and what directions or other tips to give you.

Keystone

At family-friendly Keystone, where kids 12 and under ski for FREE all season long, children and adults can ski and board together on a brand new Family Ski Trail. Dubbed “The SchoolYard,” on Keystone’s signature long, green cruiser Schoolmarm, this engaging learning area is designed for fun: glide over Rockin’ Rollers, navigate bumps for the first time on Magic Moguls, or maneuver through changing terrain in Tornado Alley. Families won’t want to miss the annual Keystone Kidtopia snow fort on the top of Dercum Mountain!

Breckenridge

As the expansive ski resort adds even more terrain to its mountains: 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain in the Peak 6 area. This represents an incredible 23 percent increase in the resort’s total skiable acres, and it does include some high-alpine bowl skiing for intermediates. All signs point toward the new terrain and lifts being open to guests by the end of the year when the rest of that upper mountain area gets enough snow.

Beaver Creek

With its heated sidewalks, complimentary warm chocolate chip cookies each afternoon, and its divine dining and lodging options – is known for its white-glove service as much as it is for its sublime skiing. This year brings a brand new place to eat: the European-inspired, on-mountain Talons Restaurant. Replacing the former Red Tail Camp, the new gourmet restaurant will be 17,000 square feet with seating for 500 indoors and 250 outside.

Vail

This year’s new lifts aren’t quite that tricked out, regular visitors to Vail will certainly appreciate the improvements. The Mountaintop Express lift is being upgraded to a new high speed six-passenger lift with a loading conveyor. The lift is one of the most utilized on the mountain and the new capacity will make for more efficient travel for skiers and snowboarders through the Mid-Vail area up to Patrol Headquarters and beyond to Vail’s Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin.

For ski-enthusiast visitors to Colorado, it’s time to start thinking about booking your ski vacation. You’ll find early booking deals aplenty at ski resorts across Colorado – from Aspen to Vail – before the snow really starts to fly in earnest.


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