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Old 12-18-2012, 08:24 PM
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Good post, sunsprit. Since I lived for several years in SE Wyoming, too, and had to drive all over that state in winter, I can comment a little on the difference between Colorado mountain winter driving and a lot of Wyoming winter driving. I found that I might need a 4WD more often (though not always) in Colorado mountain driving compared to most of Wyoming, where I would drive a FWD sedan most the winter with no problems. The difference I found was that the major highways in Wyoming were either very passable in a FWD car most of the time, or were completely impassable to any vehicle when a savage blizzard was underway--the latter closures caused by zero visibility and deeply drifting snow on the highways. Now, some mountain roads in Wyoming--around the Tetons, Big Horns, Sierra Madres, etc.-- and away from the open areas of the Wyoming plains, Red Desert, etc.--tended to have winter driving conditions more similar to the Colorado mountain areas.

What I can say unequivocally, was that Wyoming drivers as a group were far more prudent, experienced, and safe winter drivers compared to the large number of winter driving idiots in Colorado. I attribute that in large part to the fact that far more Wyomingites are long-term residents of the region who have long experience driving in winter weather compared to transplant-infested Colorado. In fact, when one saw a vehicle rolled over in the a borrow pit in Wyoming from sliding off of a slick winter road, way more often than not it was a Colorado vehicle.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
I never said that it wouldn't be preferable to US550 during a bad winter storm, but the CO145/CO62 route is neither the benign tame little animal in winter that you describe.

One of the problems that people unfamiliar with Colorado highways suffer is that they get complacent about roads that can present real hazards. US50 is an example. Most people talking about US50 in winter automatically assume that Monarch Pass will be where they experience the worst winter driving conditions. Monarch can certainly be rigorous, but Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa between Gunnison and Montrose on US50 can be every bit as bad or worse in many winter storms. Why? Because Cerro and Blue are just high enough in elevation to get some heavy snowfall and just low enough that it frequently turns the road into very slick black ice. In decades of driving Monarch, Cerro, and Blue on a pretty regular basis, I often found conditions more hazardous on Cerro and Blue than I did on Monarch during the same winter storms.
Good points here!

Thought I'd chime in on the "Million Dollar Highway" that I know I haven't mentioned before and am not sure anyone else has.

It's not uncommon for C-DOT's snow plows to work on the roads the next county over and maybe two counties over from where they are based out of. As you're traveling from La Plata to San Juan to Ouray counties, don't be surprised to see sections of the roads not maintained quite as well as the county you left. A good case in point is coming out of Durango, heading north to Silverton on 550.

Colorado state highway budgets have been taking a whipping lately on the money end of things and snow coverage in some areas won't be as good as others. Keep in mind that some of the counties in the southwest corner are good sized and these guys can only do so much with the employees they have. You can drive in one county where the trucks have done work and hit the next county over and road conditions can be treacherous.

And give those drivers room- a lot of room! They're not only watching the road and watching you, they are watching the mountainsides as that's where the trouble is. In a couple of the county highway work yards C-Dot has huge maps that shows the trouble spots regarding avalanche paths. And those paths have specific names to them.

These guys are pretty brave to work those roads, I'll tell you that!
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:42 PM
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One other point: If you collide with a CDOT snowplow when they are plowing, no matter where the plow is on the road--even in your lane--the collision is YOUR fault under the law. Period. You have to get out their way.
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