According to the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO), visitors to the state continue to break records. In 2016, Colorado drew 82.4 million visitors (statistics from CTO). However, with so many out-of-town visitors, this means more people driving in unfamiliar mountainous areas, which can be dangerous.
Here are a few tips to remember when driving in and around the Colorado Rockies.
Just being more aware of your surroundings and others on the road can go a long way in being okay.
- No guardrails. This is an important safety concern when driving along Colorado’s windy switchbacks. One moment of not paying attention could mean going over the edge of a steep drop off. Many of Colorado’s most scenic routes have no guardrails.
- Peak traffic times. Traffic in the Rocky Mountain State varies greatly from weekdays to weekends. On weekends, you can expect many more visitors trekking up the mountains for breathtaking views, skiing, hiking and other activities.
- Sudden temperature changes. With great elevation comes great temperature changes. Roads at higher elevations can have drastically different conditions. You could find yourself suddenly driving on snow or ice when only minutes ago, the roadway was clear.
Some planning ahead and checking the weather can have a huge payoff if you’re driving through Colorado.
- Give yourself extra time. Having enough time to get where you are going will make you less stressed and you won’t feel you need to be in a hurry.
- Dress for dropping temps. A good idea here is to wear clothing in layers so you can easily add or remove layers as you get hotter or cooler. REI recommends at least three layers: the first layer, closest to your skin should be something like long underwear which acts as a wicking layer; a middle layer insulates you and keeps you warm; and a third layer on the outside will protect you from the elements, including keeping you dry in rainy or snowy weather. Wearing layered clothing also allows you to add and subtract clothes easily to stay comfortable and alert.
- Slow down. Driving more cautiously and watching for changing road conditions will help you stay safe and make your visit to this gorgeous mountainous region enjoyable rather than one you will remember because you had an unfortunate accident.
What suggestions do you have for keeping it safe on road trips in Colorado?