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18 Jan 2022
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Trip Planning

Driving in snow and ice can be an intimidating task. Even with four-wheel-drive and snow tires, the most seasoned driver can quickly get stuck or worse, slide off the road. But don’t worry! A little pre-planning can make a world of difference for your safety. We’ve detailed our most essential tips and tricks for navigating icy and snowy roads below.

  • Beware Four-Wheel Drive: You’ve done your due diligence and you’ve spent the extra cash on an all-wheel-drive car for your trip to the mountains. You’re good to drive like snow doesn’t even exist, right? Definitely not! Car and Driver notes in their article, How to Drive in Winter Snow Safely, that “Vehicles equipped with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive can lull you into a false sense of security on slick roads.” The tip here is to remain cautious! While four-wheel drive can improve traction, it does not alter the car’s stopping ability. Take it slow and be wary of still sliding when stopping.
  • Stock Up on Sand: It may sound like a silly thing to have handy, but sand or kitty litter is certainly a cheaper solution when you’re stuck in snow than a tow truck! Of course, the best time to buy this is before you get stuck. So go ahead, stop off at your nearest convenience store and grab that bag of rocky kitty litter before you hit the mountain roads. If you do find yourself stuck, don’t spin your wheels! Sprinkle the sand or kitty litter under the tires and in front of them a few feet, then slowly accelerate to pull out. And check out Kelly Blue Book’s 20 Tips for Safe Winter Driving for this tip and more!
  • Rent an Appropriate Car: While four-wheel-drive won’t help you stop any better on slick roads, they are essential for traction. Enterprise lists the best cars to rent for winter road trips in their Winter Road Trip Guide. Not only is renting a winterized car the safer bet, but it’s also the law. During adverse weather in Colorado, the CO Dept of Transportation will enact traction laws during which all operating vehicles are required to have 4WD or winterized tires. You can view more information about traction laws by visiting the CO DOT website.
  • Be Prepared for Road Closures: The weather can change road conditions quickly in the mountains, but that doesn’t mean there’s no way to prepare. Make sure you’re regularly checking for weather updates, including notices for road outages in the area. For Colorado road conditions and closures, visit the COTrip website, or call 511 or 877-314-7623 for the latest traffic events and road conditions.
  • Take it Slow and Steady: It may seem like obvious advice, but it stands repeating. Even with the smallest bit of snow, the roads can quickly get slick. Ice is even more treacherous as just a fraction of an inch can cause very slick road conditions. Play it safe, if the roads aren’t dry, take it slow and steady. Avoid quickly braking and jerky movements. If you do slide, do not panic, and don’t hit the brakes! Let off the gas and give your tires a moment to regain traction. Once they do, gently steer back in the direction you need to be and slowly accelerate again. Remember, overpasses and bridges will be slick even if ground roads are not!
  • Don’t Drive At All: The most obvious solution for driving on snowy roads is very simple – don’t! With multiple shuttle options throughout Summit County, as well as rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, there really is no need to drive yourself in the mountains. We list several recommendations for airport and area transportation on our website. We also list any nearby shuttle stops on each home’s listing page in the description under “Rental Policies.” If you’re not feeling confident about traversing slick roads, or don’t want to spend the extra cash on a 4WD rental car, we strongly recommend using all the local transportation options instead!

The takeaway? Be prepared! The best way to avoid problems is to plan for them. However, sometimes even the best-prepared person can still end up in a bad spot when it comes to snowy roads. If you find yourself needing a tow, we recommend Ryan’s Recovery in the Summit County area. And if you haven’t already, make sure to book your next mountain getaway with River Ridge Rentals!