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Anyone driven from Denver to Aspen?

Diane

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This would be in September. We wonder how scary the roads are and about how long it takes. We would like to use up a couple Southwest Air frequent flyer awards expiring this fall, which can get us to Denver, but not if the drive from Denver to Aspen, and back, would be too much for us.

Thanks,

Diane
 

JLB

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I'm guessing you could handle it. ;)

Will you take your cello? :D
 

Steve

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Hi Diane,

The drive from Denver to Aspen takes about 4 hours (if there isn't a lot of traffic). You want to avoid leaving Denver on Friday afternoon and you want to avoid returning on Sunday afternoon.

The drive is gorgeous and, although you reach some very high elevations, it is not scary if you stick to the main route: I-70 west to Glenwood Springs and then highway 82 south to Aspen. There are some tunnels and bridges and a couple of passes (all on interstate 70)...but the roads are very good and there are few drop offs and no scary places.

If you are afraid of heights and/or mountain driving, this is the ONLY route through the Rockies from Denver to Aspen that I would take. Most of the others have some pretty dramatic sections. Above all, I would suggest you NOT take Independence Pass (highway 82) between Leadville and Aspen if heights are an issue. It makes a nice circuit route if you look on the map...but it's more than a little exciting. I had to pry my fingers off of the steering wheel after that one.

Have fun, and enjoy Colorado!

Steve
 
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Diane

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Thanks for the helpful information, Steve and for the vote of confidence, Jim. Of course I will have my cello, that is, the travel version Milt designed. Will wait until I get to Aspen to play.

Diane
 

nkosi278

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Diane,
In September, you should definitely return to Denver via the Independence pass....it is beautiful and easy (I class as 'difficult' the Jaufenpass between Meran and Stirzing in Italy / South Tirol - which I still have nightmares about)
That brings you to Leadville, whence you can either take US24 back down to Vail/I70, or US91 down to Copper/I70.
By now you will be so used to (easy) passes you should take Exit 205 at Silverthorne, and take US6 via Keystone, A-Basin over the Loveland Pass to I70 (this 'bypasses' the Eisenhower tunnel and years ago was the only highway to the West!)
Be sure and stop at Keystone's 'River Run' and walk down to the Kickapoo Tavern....sit on their deck...listen to the babbling of the Snake River....and drink ONE (it's enough!!) of their famous "Joy Juice"....... (we bicycle from our home to do this in summer.....can't right now as we have another 'white-out' and the (FANTASTIC) snow will get yet another 6"......)
ttfn,
nkosi
 

Steve

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nkosi,

With all due respect, Independence Pass is not for those who are nervous about heights or mountain driving. I have traveled all over the Alps of Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland...and I have been on a lot of mountain passes. If you're not afraid of heights or mountain roads, then Independence Pass is great. If you are afraid (and I have a family member who is), then it's not. Especially from west to east...the direction you are suggesting Diane go. It would be much better to go from east to west as this puts you on the mountain side of the road and away from the drop offs. Still, I wouldn't suggest it for someone afraid of heights.

Just as interesting note, there is an Englishman who rated all of the passes of any significance in the USA and Canada after having traveled over them. He included such famous ones as Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, the main pass in Yosemite, most of the passes in Colorado, the Canadian Rockies, etc. It was his opinion that Independence Pass was the scariest road he had ever been on. I don't know that I would agree, but it's certaining exciting and scary enough (if you're scared of heights).

Steve
 

rbrougham

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Lived in Aspen for many years. September weather in Colorado (well, at altitude, any month in Colorado) can really change the drive. I'm in total agreement about the beauty and the challenge of Independence Pass. However, I wouldn't suggest it to the Original Poster if the weather is uncooperative.

The drive from Denver to Aspen is certainly easier and will be fun. Also support the Friday evening out and Sunday night back avoidance plan. Eisenhower tunnel can really back up traffic.
 

JLB

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Following this thread, I must not be able to remember our Aspen trip in detail because of the elevations. I would have been white-knuckled most of the time!
 

jfbookers

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Oh My God

Driving from Denver to Aspen several years ago we took a detour to a casino North of I-70. When leaving we ask about the shortest route back to the interstate and were told we could take "Oh My God" at times a dirt road with sharp swichbacks and one lane at times. Not reccomended if you have height issues. Yours, Jim
 

Dave*H

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jfbookers said:
Driving from Denver to Aspen several years ago we took a detour to a casino North of I-70. When leaving we ask about the shortest route back to the interstate and were told we could take "Oh My God" at times a dirt road with sharp swichbacks and one lane at times. Not reccomended if you have height issues. Yours, Jim
There is now a road from Central City to I-70 called the Central City Parkway. While I have not driven it, it is paved and from I-70 looks like a fairly easy drive, much easier than Oh My God.
 
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