DENVER -- Anyone who's lived for more than a year in Colorado already knows that this time of year doesn't only bring cold weather - it also signals the oncoming horrendous traffic on Interstate 70 as thousands of people rush to the mountains for a little snow shredding.
With the first big ski weekend now upon us, as both Breckenridge and Keystone open for the season, it's important to know what you'll be up against traffic-wise.
Skiier Matt Sloan moved to Colorado from Maryland about a year ago.
“I had heard rumors of the traffic, but it’s definitely way worse than I imagined,” he said.
But we're not just talking to transplants here. Colorado natives sometimes forget what driving through the mountain corridor looks like after a big snow day.
Luckily for all of us, GoI70.com, a program of the I-70 Mountain Corridor Coalition, is here to help with your I-70 traffic forecast.
This weekend, the weather forecast calls for mild conditions until Sunday afternoon, when there is a 70 percent chance of snow throughout the I-70 corridor. If you're going west, it's best to giddy up before leaving home.
According to GoI70.com, no congestion-related delays are expected Friday, but you could see some thick traffic during rush hour, from 4 to about 7 p.m.
Kirsten Sandlin, who's been skiing in Colorado's mountains for 20 years, said traffic is usually better on Friday, but those looking to completely avoid the crowded road are better off skiing during weekdays or taking other roads to get to their destinations.
“Coming up through Fairplay, Bailey — that way is a beautiful drive and it’s a relaxing drive,” she said.
If Coloradans decide to leave on Saturday, you might want to get ahead of the game as slow traffic could be your fortune between 7:30 and 11 a.m.
On your way back to town? You might want to prepare for winter travel in the Colorado mountains, especially if conditions cause bumper-to-bumper traffic between noon and 4 p.m.
Other tips from GoI70.com as you head to the mountains this ski season
1. Avoid peak travel times. You do not want to be stuck in traffic, especially if it's snowing. Plan to leave after 7 p.m. when coming back from the high country.
2. Check the road and traffic conditions. How, you say? Use our up-to-the-minute Denver7 Traffic page.
3. Maybe, I don't know, spend the night in the mountains? That way you can wake up at 3 a.m. the next morning and drive home without having to deal with the traffic nightmare.
4. Again, learn how to drive in the snow. Winterize, winterize, winterize! (Your vehicle, that is.)
5. Consider taking other forms of transportation to the mountains. Maybe carpool with friends, or better yet, take the Winter Park Express.