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Old 12-24-2011, 12:20 PM
 
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hello. My husband and I will be driving from Dallas to Breckenridge CO in late February and have never done this drive before. Any advice on the safest route to take this time of year? We plan on leaving DFW around 3 a.m. So we will have plenty of daylight when we get to Colorado. We really just don't know what to expect when we get to Colorado and want to be well prepared and take the best route for winter road conditions. Thank you!
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Old 12-24-2011, 12:59 PM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
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Avoid Hoosier Pass.

So that means, go up to I-70 (via C-470 or US-6), and west from there to CO-9 south to Breck.
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Old 12-24-2011, 01:48 PM
 
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David, thank you! We probably would have headed right into Hoosier pass being the inexperienced road travellers we are! Are animals on the road a common issue up there (in case we are driving in the dark)?
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Old 12-24-2011, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
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Originally Posted by jmwalton View Post
David, thank you! We probably would have headed right into Hoosier pass being the inexperienced road travellers we are! Are animals on the road a common issue up there (in case we are driving in the dark)?
Yeah, but I wouldn't put much more thought into it than I would anywhere else. Just drive a safe speed given the conditions.
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Old 12-24-2011, 05:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jmwalton View Post
David, thank you! We probably would have headed right into Hoosier pass being the inexperienced road travellers we are! Are animals on the road a common issue up there (in case we are driving in the dark)?
The best thing to do is get to Denver and then go I-70 up to Frisco and then Highway 9 10 miles to Breck. It's the easiest thing to do. Driving unfamiliar 2 lane roads and passes at night in winter isn't worth it. There is still going to be some mountain driving.

Coming out of Dallas you can go 2 ways, I-35 north to Kansas and then I-70 over, which is the easy way, because it is 4 lane interstate the whole way. Or you can take the route through Amarillo Dalhart Raton and then north up I-25. That is more stop and go, with some 2 lane sections.

It's a long day of driving from Dallas. I would not push yourself. The last part of the journey can be the most dangerous due to rapidly changing weather conditions. Tourists end up in the ditch all the time or worse.

No one can tell you what the weather will be. It could be dry and clear or a horrible snowstorm.
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:00 PM
 
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@wanneroo thank you very much! This is very helpful. I think I will do i35 to Kansas....I've heard driving to Amarillo is no fun at all and a few have said its hard to find gas stations that route. Hoping the drive isn't too treacherous but we will be as prepared as possible !!
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:51 PM
 
Location: Southeastern Colorado
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Always a good idea to have a couple of blankets, water, some non-perishable snacks, a flashlight or two. I usually carry a snow shovel and some flares, as well. Hopefully you won't need any of it, but why not be prepared just in case? The official Colorado Dept of Transportation site is Road Conditions, Speeds, Travel Times, Traffic Cameras, Live Streaming Traffic Cameras, Road Closures and Road Work Information provided by Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) a branch of Colorado Department of Transportation for weather and road conditions/closures. You might also consider avoiding the heaviest periods for traffic on I-70 heading out of the Denver metro area and toward the slopes (Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, for instance). Safe journey to you; smart drivers will adjust their driving for conditions (even if the yahoos insist on speeding by at ridiculously high speeds).
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Old 12-24-2011, 09:47 PM
 
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This is a "pick your poison" kind of deal in bad winter weather. I-25/I-70 can be a real mess in a bad winter storm. The plowing and maintenance may be a little better, but one has to deal with thousands of people on the road who don't have a clue of how to drive in winter conditions (if you are one of them, you have no business being there). The alternative routes via either US 50 or US 24 to CO 9 over Hoosier Pass will have a lot less traffic, but the whole area of South Park can be prone to ground blizzarding, and Hoosier Pass can be challenging. The roads don't get the high level plowing and maintenance that I-25/I-70 does, but one won't be dealing with as many complete fools on the road, either.

As a very experienced winter mountain driver, I would choose the US 50 or US 24/CO 9 route simply because there is less traffic with which to contend, and I have a good handle on what my own winter driving abilities are--plus, I have decades of experience in "reading" both weather and road conditions all over Colorado.

Neither route is advisable for inexperienced winter drivers if road conditions are bad. That is not only asking for trouble for yourself, but you become a serious hazard to other drivers. Commonly, inexperienced winter drivers either drive too fast or too slow for conditions, and either creates a significant hazard.
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Old 12-24-2011, 09:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jmwalton View Post
@wanneroo thank you very much! This is very helpful. I think I will do i35 to Kansas....I've heard driving to Amarillo is no fun at all and a few have said its hard to find gas stations that route. Hoping the drive isn't too treacherous but we will be as prepared as possible !!
I lived in SW Oklahoma for a while growing up and would make frequent trips along that Texas panhandle route up to Colorado to visit relatives. I think the last time I drove it all the way from Dallas was probably around 2001 or 2002(can't remember). It's not too bad, but there are some sections that are pretty sparse.

With I-35 and I-70 you can just set the cruise and go and it will be prairie all the way to Denver. When doing long drives from back east back home to Vail, Denver would be my assessment point. If I felt tired or the weather was crap up in the mountains I'd call time for the day and get a hotel and then head up in the morning.

As bovinedivine recommended CDOT is reasonably accurate about road conditions. It's worth getting to know that website, it's a big help.
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Old 12-24-2011, 11:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
I lived in SW Oklahoma for a while growing up and would make frequent trips along that Texas panhandle route up to Colorado to visit relatives. I think the last time I drove it all the way from Dallas was probably around 2001 or 2002(can't remember). It's not too bad, but there are some sections that are pretty sparse.

With I-35 and I-70 you can just set the cruise and go and it will be prairie all the way to Denver. When doing long drives from back east back home to Vail, Denver would be my assessment point. If I felt tired or the weather was crap up in the mountains I'd call time for the day and get a hotel and then head up in the morning.

As bovinedivine recommended CDOT is reasonably accurate about road conditions. It's worth getting to know that website, it's a big help.
While I generally agree with wanneroo's assessment of driving circumstances here in Colorado ...

I, too, have made the trip from Denver a fair number of times through the Texas panhandle on my way to the SE USA at this time of the year.

One must be on top of the regional weather forecasts for road conditions and deteriorating/improving storm fronts moving through. The Southern plains of Colorado can be particularly treacherous when it comes to snowfall/black ice conditions. The black ice can readily form when a modest amount of snowfall hits the warm surfaces of the roadway, melts, and then freezes in the low air temperature of the night. By morning, it can be a thin layer that is tenacious and well polished by other vehicle traffic driving over it, and is yet more of a problem as a light snowfall on top of it may obscure it from your view.

It's definitely not a condition where you'd want to be on your cruise control and I've seen it happen at this time of the year more often than not in my February travels where the moisture fronts coming through are more prevalent than in the earlier winter time.

"Prairie all the way to Denver" can have some serious amounts of snowfall and the potential for road closures or seriously difficult driving conditions. Check the forecasts in the days prior to your planned travel and then again as you are enroute for road conditions and storm front passages. Best to make your final decision about a route and time of departure at the last minute if any weather situations are forecast.

Be prepared to stop enroute if adverse conditions present and get a motel until things clear up. Better to stop sooner than later as the limited number of motel rooms along your routes can fill up very quickly in adverse conditions. Waiting out a storm front and roads to clear in your car can be less than a pleasure ....

As daylight hours are still limited to less than your expected driving time enroute, I'd urge you to consider an overnight stop for your trip. The last thing you'd want to do is to head up into the mountains in adverse conditions in the dark; this is challenging enough for experienced mountain/winter drivers with appropriately equipped vehicles. For an inexperienced driver in this situation, it's really asking for trouble ... and why I'd advise you to stay on the Interstate routes as opposed to the lesser traveled state highways into the high country.
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