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Winter Travel in Western Colorado

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.


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