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Salt Lake City to Denver

Didcot, United...
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Salt Lake City to Denver

Hi all

Thanks for the info on my previous request for a trip from Denver to Moab, then onto SLC, now for the return part.

We'll leave SLC at around 4p.m. on 15th November, and don't need to be at Denver airport until 2p.m. on Friday 17th. So what route should we drive, and should we stay somewhere overnight or just get back to Denver late on Thursday? Mapquest suggests the northern route along I80, which sounds good as we are coming in around I70/I15 via Moab, but is that the nicest drive?

Many thanks

Steve

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1. Re: Salt Lake City to Denver

In general, using I-80 would be the fastest, especially to areas north of Denver such as the airport. It would generally be considered the least scenic option, though, as much of the terrain is fairly barren, high plains type scenery, with far less dramatic mountain passes than you encounter on the various routes across Colorado.

Whichever route you take, you need to follow the weather closely. When I lived in Wyoming, it was said that at least some point of I-80 had been closed by snow every month of the year except July and August...so, suffice to say, that could certainly happen in November. I would also recommend avoiding driving after dark, if possible.

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Didcot, United...
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2. Re: Salt Lake City to Denver

Thanks Brettyb, good tip on the weather. So maybe we should just stay in SLC Thursday and make a reasonably early start Friday assuming I80 is not closed by snow. I think I might change my rental to a SUV as well in that case!

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Salt Lake City Intl Airport
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3. Re: Salt Lake City to Denver

We do this route, or segments of it, 8-10 times a year. You have three basic options. Fastest is for sure via I-80. Important weather watch between Rawlins and Laramie/Cheyenne. You do have a "shortcut" from Laramie to Fort Collins but, frankly, I-25 down from Cheyenne is just as fast. Not much for meaningful stops. If you do this route, just do it and get over to Denver. No real scenic reason to stop.

You've just done the southern route, which is actually our favorite. For sure it's the most scenic.

The other alternative is to go over on US40 via Steamboat Springs. Steamboat would actually be a nice overnight. Stay downtown versus at the resort. Then you have choices down to I-70. If weather is nice, do Rabbit Ears pass, then follow the Colorado east out of Kremmling and ultimate through Winter Park, over Berthoud Pass and down to I-70.

Here's a thought. Spend the night of 15th up here in Park City. Then drive to Steamboat on the 16th to enjoy a casual evening. Then depart first thing in the morning on the 17th to make your 2 p.m. flight.

Have fun.

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4. Re: Salt Lake City to Denver

I would suggest checking in on the Wyoming, Utah and Colorado road conditions web pages regularly between now and your trip, to get a feel for typical conditions this time of year. Right now, the weather in the region is stormy, so if you go to www.wyoroad.info, for example, you can pull up the text descriptions and web cameras for conditions across I-80 in Wyoming. If you're online in the next couple hours, you can get visuals of fairly snowy conditions, and at the moment I-80 is fully open.

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5. Re: Salt Lake City to Denver

TombleweedAndCactus made a good suggestion of Park City to Steamboat Springs to Denver. If you like that idea, you might consider going 2 hours past Steamboat to Granby or Winter Park to shorten the last day's drive to DEN. Or stay toward Grand Lake and then drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. Just the drive is enough to get views of the park and you can get to DEN by 2:00.

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6. Re: Salt Lake City to Denver

If you do push on to Granby, Winter Park or Fraser, checkout the Tabernash Tavern for a great dinner. RMNP will be closed when you're there.

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7. Re: Salt Lake City to Denver

Highway 40 through Utah and Colorado is one of the most beautiful roads you can travel; the section through Utah passes just south of Dinosaur National Monument (which is really worth a stop!) and has great views of the Uinta Mountain range (the tallest mountains in Utah).

HOWEVER, weather in November may not be your friend. Rabbit Ears and Berthoud Pass' in Colorado are really nasty in the winter. If you do decide on this route, double your expected travel time even for good winter weather; if there is bad weather you won't make it to Denver *at all* (just thinking about driving the twists and turns of Berthoud in snowy weather gives me heart palpitations!)

I suggest driving east on Highway 40 from SLC as far as the weather will let you, and plan on heading south towards I-70 to finish your drive if the weather gets bad. Post your travel plans in the Colorado forum for more advice (they'll probably advise you to take I-70 the entire way, but you've already seen that~)

Good luck with your trip!

*Pixie*

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8. Re: Salt Lake City to Denver

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