How To Drive Safely Through Mountains in ColoradoRequest Free Consultation
Whether you’re an experienced driver in Colorado or driving through the mountains for the first time, it’s always a good idea to brush up on some mountain driving tips. From planning your trip to last-minute travel safety tips, we have a full guide on how to drive safely through mountains in Colorado.
Tips Before You Start Driving Through the Mountains
“Hope for the best, and plan for the worst,” with some of these quick reminders:
- Check the condition of your car: the brakes, engine, battery, fluid levels, windshield wipers, heater, antifreeze, and tire condition. It would also be smart to get an oil change, fill up your gas tank, and make sure you have a spare tire.
- Check the weather: snowstorms and icy roads in the springtime are not uncommon in Colorado
- Pack an emergency kit: Flashlights/headlamps, batteries, phone charger, first aid kit, water, ice scraper, blankets, sand, change of clothes, sunscreen, windshield washer fluid, etc. You can also find more suggestions for a creative emergency kit from Uncover Colorado.
- Bring a map: phone service in the mountains can be unreliable, and pay attention to cotrip.org for update-to-date highway cameras of major through roads, as well as closures and alerts.
Lastly, if you’re driving the I-70 mountain corridor between Morrison and Dotsero from September 1 to May 31, you’ll want to check the state’s Traction Law (Code 15). This states that you must have one of the following:
- Snow tires
- 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
- Tires with an M+S (mud plus snow) designation
- Tire chains
- Traction devices like AutoSock
If you get caught out there without one of the above traction options, you could be fined $130 or more. You would also be more likely to cause an accident.
Keep Right Except to Pass
Stay in the right lane unless you’re looking to pass another car. If there are three lanes, the far right lane is designated for semi’s and large trucks that have to go slow, the middle lane is for normal travel, and the left lane is specifically to pass. In the same vein, if you see a car behind you approaching quickly, pull over to the right lane. Among many other reasons or circumstances, they may have lost their breaks, and it will take a while to slow down.
Save Your Breaks
Pay attention to downgrade traffic signs and shift to a lower gear to save your breaks from failing. If you press your breaks every few seconds, so do the cars behind you. Since there are a lot of larger 4-wheel drives on the road, don’t give them a chance to use you as a speedbump! Instead, change your gears into Low 2 or Low 1 on a very steep hill (both uphill and downhill) so the transmission will break for you. When you’re driving uphill, don’t turn your AC on, as it may cause your engine to overheat. Instead, roll down the windows and let some fresh air in.
If your car does overheat, here are some tips from Colorado Springs‘ government:
- If your engine is hot, run it at a fast idle. Consult your driver’s manual for proper cooling procedures.
- You may wish to run water on your radiator core to condense steam and reduce heat.
- Do NOT remove the radiator cap until the engine is cool. Follow the manual procedures when adding water or other coolants.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Keeping your eyes on the road may sound obvious, but there are a lot of factors when it comes to driving in the mountains:
- Sightseeing: Pull your car over to take in the views to avoid accidents around those tight turns.
- Wildlife: We’re going through their terrain, so be careful to keep an eye out for mountain wildlife like elk or deer, especially around dawn and dusk.
- Mountain Debris: There are usually signs around these areas, but also make sure to keep an eye out for debris falling from higher ground.
Ways to Avoid Driving Through the Mountains in Colorado
If you don’t plan on driving anywhere, there are a few ways to avoid driving through the mountains in Colorado. For example, you can take the train if you’re going to Winter Park! Amtrak can take you from Denver to Winter Park Resort on the weekends. You can find more information through their FAQs here. If you’re just looking to take in the views, there are many train routes and excursions you can check into. TravelAwaits even has a list of 8 Beautiful Colorado Train Trips You Must Experience.
Your safety matters
Your safety matters to us! We’ve seen the pain caused by others’ negligence and want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. By understanding and remembering tips and advice on how to drive safely through the mountains, we can all make the roads a little safer.