The Mountains are Calling, Get There Safely – Alternatives to Driving

We are kicking off a new series today to focus on winter driving series.  In this set of sessions, you can expect to get some solid advice on how to plan a trip to the mountains, the resources we use to stay on top of the road conditions, facing the conditions while in them, and what to do if you end up stuck.   While we may be talking mostly to those of you that have never driven in snow, there may be some good reminders that we can all use.  In fact, this series spawned from my own trip to the southwest corner of Colorado and realizing that I should have done some more planning before I took out on the trip and got caught in an epic snowstorm.

If driving in the snow sounds intimidating and something that you want to warm up to over time, don’t despair, it still is possible to get to the mountains and around within the mountains without you behind the wheel.   The options vary from public bus operations, private shuttle, and even the train.  Furthermore, once you get to your destination, there are extensive local bus systems as well as Uber and Lyft now available in the mountains to help you be mobile while in your location.

fullsizeoutput_10a2For intercity travel, there are a few options to consider.  The first is the Bustang operated by the Colorado Department of Transportation.  Bustang has a daily service from Denver’s Union Station to Glenwood Springs, with stops in Frisco, Vail, Eagle along the way.   Each of these stops is further serviced by regional bus services that will get you to your final destinations of choice.  These include Summit Stage, Vail Transit, Eagle County (ECO) transit, and Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA), and even greyhound.   You will find it pretty easy to use these connecting services to get you to the doorsteps of the most popular resorts like Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Snowmass, and Vail.   Greyhound service can even take you Telluride and Durango if you really want to get away.  These buses are super nice coach style buses and have power outlets next to your seat as well as onboard wifi so you can binge watch our YouTube channel for more updates and saving techniques.   As for luggage, the bus allows you to bring 2 personal items to keep with you on the bus and up to 3 luggage items, like skis or a bike for transport under the belly of the bus.  Additionally, you can bring food and non-alcoholic drinks with you on the trip.

ou2W15LpQV2BTK73cIBcngAn alternative to the bus is the Amtrak train service serviced by either their Califonia Zephyr or the Winter Park Express.  The California Zephyr leaves Denver daily and has stops in Fraser, Granby, Glenwood before service continues west to include other mountain destinations like Salt Lake, Reno/South Tahoe, and Truckee/North Tahoe.  Again you can use the local connections to get your mountain destination choices like Winter Park, Granby Ranch (limited), and Aspen Snowmass.  Meanwhile, the Winter Park Express has a stop directly across the lifts of Winter Park during the weekend.   The best part of this trip is it arrives just as the chairlift starts turning has return trip right as the ski lifts stop turning for the day.  Both options allow you to bring your food and beverages, but we really enjoy the dining car option on the Zephyr for that added convenience.  It is really something to enjoy a served meal as you travel past the majestic Boulder Flatiron mountains.

28783005_1627093357337568_7838206532268326912_oFor a more private experience, you can also opt for a shuttle service and ride-hailing services.  There are several of these services to chose from which include Colorado Mountain Express, Peak 1 Express, and Summit Express.  We are fans of all three of these services, but we particularly are fans of the Peak 1 Express for their humorous engagement on social media and their hard to beat promotions.  You can book all three online and pick them up at DIA.  While this seems a little out of the way, you can get there by taking the A-Line out and save the drive east.   All shuttles offer the ability to be dropped off at either a transit center or, for an additional fee, the ability to be dropped at your condo or slopeside if you prefer.

fullsizeoutput_f55If you like ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber, you might also want to consider Gondola.  This service allows you select your desired destination and to meet up for your ride at any number of convenient RTD park and ride stops.  You catch your ride up, go about your way on the slopes, and meet up again for the ride home.  The service includes the option to pick from Breckenridge, Copper, Vail and Winter Park.   You also have the opportunity to review prior riders feedback on a driver so you can book with confidence that your return ride will be there when you agree to go home.

fullsizeoutput_f54Once you are in the mountains, the local bus services can be particularly nice.  For example, the Summit Stage runs 10 interconnecting routes throughout summit county servicing the towns of Breckenridge, Copper, Dillon, Frisco, and Silverthorne.  Paired with additional bus routes specific to Keystone and Breckenridge, the network enables you to catch a bust about anywhere you could possibly want to go.  To make things even more convenient, most of these buses report their location in real time via their IOS and Andriod Apps.  We really love this feature when the weather has turned cold, allow us to step out to the bus stop just in time to catch it.  The best part of all, the bus service throughout summit county is 100% free.

fullsizeoutput_f52If you happen to find yourself at the rare situation where the bus doesn’t go, or you don’t want to wait around and deal with transfers, Lyft and Uber are also now available throughout Summit County, Vail, and the Winter Park/Fraser area.   Both also offer the ability order a car with a ski rack option, so you don’t have to worry about hauling your gear.

Bottom line, you can be incredibly mobile without the need to get behind the wheel.   We know several people that lived in the city and were up there all the time using these options.  If you need any help, please ask in the comments below.   At our next session, we will start talking about the checklist of items you need to make sure you have with you and on your car.

Until next time, pray for snow and celebrate when Ullr Provides!

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