Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Driving from Denver to Steamboat in early January

Driving from Denver to Steamboat in early January

Old Sep 13th, 2010, 08:46 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,130
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Driving from Denver to Steamboat in early January

I am considering a trip in early January...flying to Denver, then renting a car and driving to Steamboat Springs. I do not do a lot of mountain-type driving so I was wondering if someone who is familiar with this route could give me an idea of what it's like. I realize that the actual drive would be highly dependent on the weather so I am just looking for a general impression. I understand it's about 160 miles so I am guessing it would take about four hours? Thanks for any help!
musicfan is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2010, 12:28 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,780
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Can't you fly into Steamboat Springs either from your home airport or Denver? If you do decide to hire a car in Denver I would go with a 4 wheel drive one or one equipped with chains to go up to the mountains. Soy, can't give you any other info as I don't do any mountain rving in the winter and haven't been to SS.
joto is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2010, 01:02 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There is very little need for the 4WD vehicle, and chains are really a LAST resort. Not saying it couldn't happen but very unlikely. The chain law often refers to truckers more than car drivers. Flying into Steamboat would be expensive.
We have only driven the road from Steamboat down to Silverthorne in summer, but it is not mountainous (as I recall) following the river/valley. Then at Silverthorne you are on I70, about 2 hours drive to DIA. You will just have to adjust to the weather at the time, and allow enough driving time to get to the airport. The first years we skied in CO it ALWAYS seemed as if we left in a "blizzard". You just keep on doin' what you do to get to your destination. BUT if you do rent a 4WD, don't forget that it doesn't STOP any better than a "regular" vehicle.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2010, 01:24 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 8,030
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The 4W drive and chain is an over the top recommendation. IF you need 4w drive and or chain you ought not to be on the road. January tends to be a dry month.

I would opt for US Hwy 40 off of I-70 prior to Georgetown. It is well mark. You do have to climb Bertha Pass but it is the route to Winter Park and it well maintained. Beyond Winter Park it is relatively flat getting to Steamboat and I think is slightly closer. The other way through Silverthorne is a two lane that rolls through some mountain areas and is a state road.
fmpden is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2010, 01:27 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,299
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Flying into Steamboat shouldn't be that expensive--the airport is fairly well served, and so it's not cost prohibitive to fly to as some of the other small CO ski resorts are (ie Telluride). I am flying there from Seattle in January; currently fares for me are $370, which is only about $100 more than flying to Denver at the same time). Also, you may not need a car once in Steamboat if you fly there (my impression is that shuttles/buses are quite good) so you can deduct the cost of a car rental if you fly.
christy1 is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2010, 01:35 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,130
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the replies! That is just what I was needing to know. I would not be driving if chains were involved!

We are getting an awesome fare to Denver (thanks, SW!) and to fly the additional less than an hour to SB is the SW fare PLUS $60, and there are three of us, so that is why the car rental option is there. It looked on the map like a pretty "major" road.

Thanks again!
musicfan is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2010, 02:29 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would bow to fmpden about going through Bertoud Pass through Winter Park, but THAT road scared the bejeesus out of me when DD was living in Winter Park. Hence my other suggestion. If there is ANY ice, I would not go that way personally.
But as said, if the chain law is in effect for cars, don't go on the road==or they will close I70. It happens.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2010, 07:25 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,130
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh my...thanks for sharing that, Gretchen. I have driven in snow for 35 years, but mountain roads plus snow/ice is a whole different deal.

I appreciate all the advice and welcome more if anyone else wants to weigh in.
musicfan is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2010, 08:42 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 623
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Taking Highway 40 over Berthoud Pass and through Winter Park is longer (in mileage & time) than taking I-70 to Silverthorne, then Hwy 9 to Kremmling and Hwy 40 to Steamboat. Believe me, I've driven both those routes many, many times.

The road over Berthoud Pass has a number of switchbacks (both going up and coming down) and is steeper than anything you will find on the other route. It is also a very pretty Pass in my opinion, and if the roads are dry and you're not in a hurry then take it for its scenic ambiance. Once over the Pass, Hwy 40 is relatively flat and easy all the way to Kremmling with the brief 3 mile exception of where it passes through Byers Canyon between Hot Sulphur Springs and Parshall. Even there it is flat, but somewhat curvy. Two speed trap areas of note: 1) through the town of Empire, and 2) a 4 mile section between the west end of Byers Canyon and the small town of Parshall.

Taking I-70 to Silverthorne may not be as scenic, but it's all interstate with a gentle uphill most of the way to the Eisenhower Tunnel (with a briefly steeper downhill section at Floyd Hill east of Idaho Springs, and a similarly steeper uphill section between Georgetown and Silver Plume). From the Eisenhower Tunnel the interstate takes a moderately steep downhill all the way to Silverthorne - but it's interstate. From Silverthorne, Hwy 9 is a well maintained state highway that follows the Blue River downstream through its valley all the way to Kremmling. Hwy 9 gets a little curvy along the shores of Green Mountain Reservoir about halfway along this route, but nothing dangerous under dry conditions.

From Kremmling to Rabbit Ears Pass, the highway takes a gentle (almost imperceptible) uphill as it follows Muddy Creek to the top of Muddy Creek Pass. The east summit of Rabbit Ears Pass is a short, easy, maybe 3 mile uphill from Muddy Creek Pass. The top of Rabbit Ears Pass is actually a plateau, across which Hwy 40 traverses for about 6-8 miles before it drops you off its west side in a steep, curvy, yet scenic descent into the Yampa River Valley and Steamboat Springs.

Rabbit Ears Pass is notorious for being dangerous in a snowstorm (the west side and the top in particular), and has been known to be shut down in blizzard conditions. The alternate, less dangerous route when Rabbit Ears is closed is to take Hwy 40 out of Kremmling for about 6 miles to state highway 134. Then take 134 up and over Gore Pass to Hwy 131, and Hwy 131 along the Yampa River north into Steamboat.


Gretchen,

When we going fishin'?
furledleader is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2010, 01:12 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
YOU got it with all that, ma man. 40 is pretty, but the switchbacks are prodigious.
We haven't got that done yet--really need to do it. Have you had some good ones? I really want to fish the Blue when we go sometime. DDIL's parents' cabin is right on it. We seem to go in high water season too often. There are some gorgeous stretches along the road.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2010, 03:39 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 623
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
One note about your return trip. Try to avoid returning to Denver on a Sunday afternoon. Traffic along I-70 can be horrendous from noon to sometimes 8 p.m. due to weekend skiers returning to Denver from the likes of Vail, the Summit County ski areas, and even Winter Park. Count on at least an extra 2-3 hours being added to your return trip during this time - even more if there's an accident along the way.

Gretchen,

Fishing has been slow...don't know why. But then again other things have taken me away from my stream time this summer. Runoff is a tough time to fish any river - especially the Blue. During other times though, I've had some bodacious experiences there during mayfly hatches. Even had salmon swimming between my legs while standing in the river near the Blue River Campground during their run up the river from Green Mountain in early October. Fun stuff. Love to meet up some time.
furledleader is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2010, 04:20 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,876
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, dang, now you have me. That campground just looks perfect and is just down the road from teh cabin. I will keep this in mind. It would be a pleasure for sure!!
Gretchen is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2010, 06:33 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,130
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow, furled--thank you SO much! I owe you big time for that very detailed post.

I hope you two DO get to go fishing together!
musicfan is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Ricardo_215
United States
19
Feb 27th, 2009 12:44 PM
fairy33
United States
30
Nov 24th, 2008 09:25 AM
Usacubs
United States
29
Dec 11th, 2003 03:11 PM
jillc1
United States
8
Oct 11th, 2003 02:22 PM
estaten
United States
10
Mar 19th, 2003 08:09 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -