Presidents Day Weekend Travel: Are You Winter Wise?

News Release

February 15, 2023 - Statewide - CDOT encourages safe winter driving over historically high-traffic weekend

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To download CDOT’s Winter Wise safety education materials, visit:

Statewide — Coloradans across the state are gearing up for Presidents Day weekend, a three-day stretch that historically draws some of the highest mountain traffic totals of the year. With more cars traveling mountain corridors, winter driving safety is especially crucial. Motorists unprepared for winter conditions can cause closures, lengthen travel times and heighten their risk for slide-outs and crashes. Amidst peak travel this long weekend, CDOT is reminding drivers headed to the high country to ensure their vehicles are prepared.

In January, more than 1.1 million drivers traveled through the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels, averaging more than 36,000 motorists daily. That is the highest January average since 2020. Last February, the daily traffic count average was nearly 38,000. With increased snowfall totals so far this year, CDOT doesn’t expect I-70 mountain traffic to slow down anytime soon, especially over Presidents Day weekend and spring break.

“Presidents Day weekend is one of the busiest mountain travel weekends in Colorado,” said Andrew Hogle, CDOT Winter Wise communications manager. “We encourage all motorists to avoid peak travel periods and ensure their tires are prepared for winter conditions. Fewer crashes and delays keep our mountain corridors moving, and most importantly, shows motorists are traveling safely.”

CDOT recently identified Glenwood Canyon and Vail Pass as two of the most challenging sections of I-70 in the winter. Motorists speeding on snow and ice-packed roads and vehicles with inadequate tires and tread lead to closures and crashes on these corridors and others along I-70.

“It’s no secret that mountain roads can be inherently challenging to navigate in the winter. It’s up to motorists to ensure their vehicles are prepared for winter conditions to give them the best chance to reach their destinations safely,” said Hogle. “Traction Law compliance is crucial. Even when the Traction Law is not active, it’s best to always have safe tires and adequate tread. Winter driving in Colorado can be challenging, but it is possible to travel safely.”

From Sept. 1 to May 31, the Traction Law is always active on the I-70 mountain corridor from Dotsero to Morrison.

Colorado’s Passenger Vehicle Traction Law requires that all vehicles have one of the following:

  • Winter tires (mountain-snowflake icon) and 3/16” tread depth
  • Tires with a mud and snow designation (M+S icon) and 3/16” tread depth
  • Tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer and 3/16” tread depth
  • 4WD or AWD vehicle and 3/16” tread depth
  • Chains or an approved alternative traction device
  • For more information about the Traction Law requirements, visit

CDOT offers the following tips and reminders to help drivers be safe this Presidents Day weekend:

  • Avoid traveling during peak times. offers weekend travel forecasts that are updated every Thursday afternoon to help you plan
  • Use safe public transit if you need a ride. Bustang and Snowstang offer service to and from certain mountain areas, and Bustang Outrider offers service to mountain areas and rural regions. Visit for multiple transit options along the I-70 mountain corridor
  • Be patient during safety metering. If you are stopped on I-70 near the Eisenhower Tunnel, it may be due to safety metering. Safety metering helps control traffic flow, reduce accidents and keep the tunnel clear for emergency vehicles to get through. Please be patient
  • Express Lanes are available. There are I-70 Mountain Express Lanes in both directions of I-70 adjacent to the free, general-purpose lanes between the Veterans Memorial Tunnels and Empire interchange. These Express Lanes operate during peak travel times. To learn more, visit

About Winter Wise

CDOT’s Winter Wise campaign focuses on education, tools and resources to help keep drivers safe on Colorado’s winter roads. To learn more and view helpful tips for winter driving, visit For specific information about I-70 and other highway travel conditions, motorists can call 511 or check Additionally, drivers can check Twitter for up-to-date travel information via @ColoradoDOT. For more detailed information about the Traction Law and Passenger Vehicle Safety Law, snowplow laws, safety stats and frequently asked questions, visit