Transportation into the high country to participate in all manner of on-the-snow activities is inextricably linked to the vagaries of the very element that makes such activities possible – snow!
Flights in and out of Denver International Airport, despite its moniker of being an “all-weather airport” can, like any other major airport, be affected by snowstorms, and which can close runways and delay flights. Fortunately, DIA is more adept and experienced than others at meeting the challenge head-on and delayed or missed flights are in actuality a rarity. I love DIA.
Driving into the mountains from DIA, or anywhere else for that matter, is another story. Allen Best of Colorado Biz Magazine wrote a great article on the agony of Front Range skiers making the drive up I-70 at weekends – a drive that can become even longer (there and back) the more the snow is falling. His article touches on the enormity of the problem that is congestion, and the lack of consensus of how to deal with it now, and in the future when it will be significantly worse.
Aside from congestion, as has recently been experienced even before the ski areas were open for the season, snowstorms can shut down hundreds of miles of highways which are the entryways to the mountains. However, patience is the required commodity in these times, as once again decades of experience come to the fore, and highways get reopened is double-quick time.
While the drive up to Winter Park itself has been made that much safer (and quicker) due to the major upgrading and improvement of Berthoud Pass, those inexperienced in winter driving conditions and who flew into DIA to start their ski vacation, might be well advised to take the Home James Transportation shuttle. Their drivers are specially trained in mountain driving conditions, and they drive the DIA to Winter Park route every day in vehicles that have all-wheel drive and winter snow-tires.
Bottom line – it’s all to easy to underestimate the level of stress that can be caused in the transportation process of getting to one’s destination. After all, a vacation should be all about getting away from the stresses and strains of everyday life, a chance to relax, unwind and enjoy the great outdoors. So many times I see people checking with their lodging provider looking like they’ve just completed the Ironman Triathlon. Traveling can be a stressful experience in itself – for all the above reasons and more. It’s amazing though to see the turnaround after a day or two. Some memorable turns on the mountain, maybe a massage, a snowmobile ride, some great dinners and a couple of beers later, that’s when we remind ourselves why we put up with the potential headaches of actually getting to our snowy playground of choice.