Winter Driving Safety in Colorado

loveland pass switchbacks on the western side of continental divide
Loveland Pass

Seasonal Closures

These passes will close for the winter and you will need to alter your route significantly if you are planning on using them. There are many other mountain passes that may close temporarily at any time.

Winter Vehicles Essentials List

These are just the honest essentials. Your list could easily be much longer, but this is what you will find in the trunk of a well-prepped car.

Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving takes caution and practice. Use these driving tips to stay safe on the roads of Colorado during the winter.

1) Use winter tires in cold temperatures.

These tires have a rubber compound that will increase your grip in cold temperatures. The increased tread will also increase your grip in the snow, but what many people don’t realize is that the tires perform better in the cold temperatures regardless of whether there is snow on the road.

2) Increase your following distance.

A normal following distance should be about 2 seconds. When the car in front of you passes a point, you should pass that same point about 2 seconds later. You should increase this distance in snowy conditions and give yourself more time to stop when needed.

3) Apply the brakes sooner to stop in the snow.

If you are approaching a stop sign, stoplight, or stopped vehicle, you should apply the brakes sooner than you normally would.

5) Always brush the snow off of your car.

While there is no law that specifically mandates this in Colorado, this doesn’t mean you can’t get a ticket or be held liable if you cause an accident. Some cities may have ordinances that require you to clean snow off of your car, and a State Trooper who thinks you are creating unsafe conditions can always give you a ticket.

6) Keep your gas tank above half-full during the winter.

There are a few reasons for this. Condensation can freeze and cause potential issues. Keeping your tank half-full can also protect the fuel pump from overheating and it can prevent dirt from getting sucked up by the fuel pump. If you get stuck on the interstate because of an accident, this may also keep you from running out of fuel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chains are only required for trucks on certain highway sections. Those same highway sections may require all vehicles to either have snow tires or 4-wheel drive.

Between the Eisenhower Tunnel and Vail Pass, you may see closures multiple times per week during the winter when the weather is bad. Vail Pass will close much more often than the Eisenhower Tunnel.

Rabbit Ears Pass in Winter going to Steamboat Ski Resort
Rabbit Ears Pass