End of Week Storm Expected to Impact Mountain Travel

Travel Advisory

February 6, 2020 - Statewide News - Travelers to and through the mountains should prepare for delays and closures

Travelers planning to head into the high country can expect heavy traffic and treacherous conditions beginning Thursday, Feb. 6 and lasting through the weekend. Drivers will encounter and should be prepared for significant snow accumulations, blowing and drifting snow, as well as closures due to likely avalanche mitigation. Motorists should make sure their vehicles are properly equipped with good tread and chains, as traction and chain laws will likely be put into effect. CDOT also anticipates heavier ski traffic than previous weekends.


Another storm takes aim at Colorado over the next several days, bringing a prolonged period of snowfall beginning Thursday, Feb. 6 through Saturday, Feb. 8. Showers will develop over the northern mountains Wednesday afternoon, slowly increasing in coverage during the evening. Snowfall will be steady throughout both Thursday and Friday. Heavy snowfall is likely in the northern mountains, south-central mountains, southern mountains and along the I-70 mountain corridor. Mountain winds will be strong at times, leading to areas of blowing and drifting snow. While the plains and foothills may see light accumulation, conditions can change in an instant as motorists enter the mountains.The National Weather Service is forecasting mountain snow totals of more than 12 inches to as much as nearly 2 feet in certain areas.

Travel on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from the Front Range to ski areas will likely take longer than usual. Motorists traveling along the I-70 Mountain Corridor and across northwest Colorado must plan for extended delays due to heavy snowfall on Thursday and Friday, including blowing and drifting snow. Travelers should anticipate closures due to avalanche control; CDOT will share details of any planned closures for avalanche mitigation whenever possible. Roads will likely be icy and snow-packed, with a strong chance of Traction and Chain Laws being put in place. Commercial vehicles should not travel into the mountains without chains. 

Expected accumulations are 10-18” for Vail Pass and the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels, 12-20” for Berthoud Pass (US 40), 16-24” for Rabbit Ears Pass (US 40) and 6-10” for Grand Mesa (CO 65). Snow will continue through Saturday morning. Motorists should not plan to detour onto CO 9 and US 285, as both highways are expected to receive significant snowfall and wind.

Areas of snowfall are forecasted to spill out onto portions of the foothills and plains between Thursday night and Friday afternoon. While forecasts do not yet have more precise predictions for these weather effects, travel conditions will likely become challenging.


CDOT urges travelers to be aware of chain and traction law codes before heading out on the roadway.

  • Code 18/Commercial Chain Law: Commercial vehicles and trucks must have chains. Vehicles without chains can often lose traction, causing traffic delays and sometimes road closures. For the safety of the traveling public, it's critical to use chains to be in compliance with Colorado's chain law.

  • Code 15/Passenger Traction Law: All passenger vehicles must have appropriate all-weather tires with 3/16-inch depth. Vehicles must have one of the following: winter tires, tires with mud/snow (M+S) designation, chains or alternative traction devices such as an autosock. 4WD and AWD vehicles must have winter tires or all weather tires.

  • Code 16/Passenger Chain Law: All passenger vehicles need chains, except for 4WD and AWD vehicles with all-weather tires with 3/16 inch tread depth.


As an alternative to driving in the mountains this weekend and for greater peace of mind, motorists will be able to take advantage of CDOT’s recently introduced Snowstang. Snowstang will provide Saturday and Sunday roundtrip bus service between Denver and the Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin, Steamboat Resort, and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs. 

For all three lines, passengers can board at Denver Union Station or the Denver Federal Center. Roundtrip tickets for Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin start at $25.  A roundtrip to Steamboat Springs (Steamboat Resort and Howelsen Hill) is $40.00. Additional discounts will be available for seniors and children. To purchase tickets, visit www.ridebustang.com or download the Bustang® mobile app, JustRide Bustang, for iOS or Android.

Operated by Ace Express Coaches, LLC of Golden, Snowstang™ coaches carry 51 passengers, are climate controlled, and have Wi-Fi access, a restroom, USB and power outlets. Let Snowstang do the driving and parking for you.


Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:



For Bustang, Outrider and Snowstang
Bob Wilson, CDOT Statewide Communications Manager


For Northeast Colorado 

Jared Fiel, Region 4 Communications Manager

970.302.2846 Ι  [email protected]

For Southwest Colorado 

Lisa Schwantes, Region 5 Communications Manager

970.749-2015 Ι  [email protected]


In early 2019, CDOT announced its Whole System — Whole Safety initiative to heighten safety awareness. This initiative takes a systematic, statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address driving behaviors, our built environment and the organization's operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving the safety of all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission—to get everyone home safely.


CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated inter-regional express service. Governor Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s inter-modal mobility options.