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Old 08-30-2016, 10:48 PM
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or get a hotel and make the drive in the morning? Spending a week in Steamboat the second week of October and our plane gets in at 5:30pm. By the time we get our luggage and (ridiculously high priced) rental car it will probably be around 6:30. I'm guessing it will be almost dark around that time of year? Looks like It's a 3 hour drive - but is it something that needs to be done in daylight?. We have no idea about the roads or anything. If we spend the night between Denver and Steamboat- what would be a good area?-Thanks
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Old 08-30-2016, 11:07 PM
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
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I would do the drive in the morning for a few reasons. It's a beautiful drive through the mountains, you're going to want to see it. The evenings and early mornings are prime time for deer and elk to be on the roads and it can become a hazard. You could get a rental car off site from the airport and probably save a lot of money. There are many threads on this topic on Trip Advisor, Colorado forum, you can search the forum and also look at the right side "top questions". Generally folks have taken the airport shuttle to the Doubletree on Quebec and rented from Avis or Enterprise, I believe there is the option to return to the airport without an additional charge.

Whether you choose to rent a car at the airport or elsewhere I would get to the West Side of the city to avoid traffic in the morning, maybe stay in Golden.
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Old 08-30-2016, 11:17 PM
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You guessed right on sunset at 6:30 then. The drive is pretty straightforward most of the way- I70 to 9 to 40. The last 30 miles from Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat will call for attention but isn't that bad by CO mtn road standards. Stopping in Summit County might be easier and give a nice next morning drive. If you expect to be quite tired, stop in Summit County. If a night drive elsewhere doesn't faze and you can save money and time doing the drive, it is not that bad.

Rental cars are quite a game. The site you use matters as does day & time of net search and rental. Sometimes you can save a lot using an off airport location as noted above, even for the same company. I once saved over $200 by taking a short bus ride away from the Vegas airport.

Last edited by NW Crow; 08-30-2016 at 11:45 PM..
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Old 08-30-2016, 11:50 PM
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Stay in or around Denver. Altitude sickness is no joke and you will want to stay over night to help yourself acclimate.

Plus the drive is pretty. You will want to see it.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:00 AM
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I temporarily forgot the altitude issue. Yeah, probably better not to push for that reason, not the drive itself so much.
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Old 08-31-2016, 01:00 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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I would stay in Winter Park, you might be the only guest and have a whole lodge to yourself! (BTDT 3x, always were told... "just pick out any room your want and let us know in the morning which one you chose", outdoor hot-tub under the stars, lobby and library / guest kitchen, games, sofas, fireplaces all to ourselves; managers lived off-site. !)

It will be a great place to relax, quiet place to sleep, wonderful terrain to awake in AM and enjoy a beautiful breakfast together ... then head to Steamboat with NO TRAFFIC / no hurry / no hassle / noise / smell of Denver.

Idaho Falls would work if you are leery of the pass (tho no need to be worried, just to have a plan B)

Could also go west from Ft Collins, up Poudre Canyon and over to Walden.
or... Trail Ridge out of Estes Park (risky due to likely snow closure)

I wouldn't stay in Denver, if it were the last city in Colorado,(YMMV) at the very least I would head 287 to Laramie and west to Wood's Landing (not a common rte to Steamboat, but not many passes and VERY pretty and no traffic or 'greenies' (Colorado drivers)). If you have a couple extra hours you can add Snowy Range, it is a 9.5.

There are about 20 other nearby / enroute places to chose that will be 'lovely' choices for a romantic and / or memorable stay. We use 'hospitality guest homes' 100's in Colorado - $10 - $20 worldwide. Often in Colorado mtns, you get a guest cabin or entire 'wing' of a view home all to yourself.
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Old 08-31-2016, 07:13 AM
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If you're not an experienced mountain driver, it would be better to plan the 'boat drive for the AM.

You'll get to enjoy the scenery and avoid the potential of nighttime low temps/slick roads (snowfall turning to black ice on the roads at altitude) that can present at this time of the year on the mountain passes.

Your evening arrival time is a good opportunity to get out of the Denver area to avoid the rush hours AM traffic.

Depending upon your route to Steamboat (northerly or westerly), there's lots of options for lodging/meals once into the foothills West of Denver or the plains North of Denver. IMO, best to stop early once out of the Denver metro area and look forward to the AM travels ... if you travel an hour to 1.5 hrs out of DIA area, that gives you a reasonable time frame to find a meal and settle in to your lodging. Idaho Springs to the West or Fort Collins to the North would be good places to spend the night.
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:32 AM
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If you go to the Denver forum on Trip Advisor. (full site, not phone app, on the top right) there is a FAQ Re. saving $$$ on rental cars. Basically renting off site can save significant $$$ ...
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Old 08-31-2016, 09:15 AM
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If you have "no idea about the roads or anything", my suggestion is to get a hotel and dinner and drive up in the morning with the sun at your back. It's a beautiful drive in the morning.

In October in the high country there is very much the possibility for slick conditions on the roads at night and also animals are moving from high country down to low country. Also once you get off I-70 and head towards Steamboat on two lane roads it's pretty sparse country. If you have a problem getting help will not be instantaneous.

After I moved and left mountain Colorado, one early October I headed back to Vail with my parents for my sisters wedding and drove out from back east. We went through Denver around 6-7 pm and it was warm, no problems, during the day it had probably been 70 degrees. By the time we got past Georgetown there was an icy snow squall, tractor trailers were getting stuck and all that. Not heavy snow but ice. I had about 600,000 miles experience on the mountain roads between Denver and Aspen and all points in between. I said hey Dad you should probably let me drive since I did this for a living. Oh no, I got it he said. Sho nuff, coming right out of the Eisenhower tunnel he hit a patch of black ice and we went for a spin and tagged a barrier. Fortunately only superficial damage to a bumper cover. After that he pulled over and let me drive.

The next October, I flew in and took a shuttle. Everything was OK in Denver and then it started to snow in the mountains and they shut I-70 down. We got stuck in Summit County and finally were able to continue. A usual 2 hour trip took 10 hours, we left Denver Airport around 4 and got in around 2 AM if I recall.

That's just some examples of what can happen. Not that they will and chances are you will get there fine, but these are mountain roads.
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Old 08-31-2016, 09:22 AM
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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We've done it, after work in the winter several times when my cousin had a condo in Steamboat. So it's doable, but I agree with everyone else that if you're unfamiliar with the drive to do it in the light of day.
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