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I want to go to CO area with my kids but terrified of driving high/steep roads!

I want to go to CO area with my kids but terrified of driving high/steep roads!

Old Jul 10th, 2022, 09:01 AM
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I want to go to CO area with my kids but terrified of driving high/steep roads!

Iíve been wanting to go to the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana etc. but I am terrified of heights but itís mostly of cliffs. I was never like that when I was younger but now in my late 40s I just canít drive up and down mountain roads. It sucks because I love nature and mountains but something about driving through very high roads with cliffs and winding roads in high elevations make me very scared especially if it doesnít have a guardrail or trees on the edge. I know about certain scary passes/highways in Colorado, but can you tell me what areas to stay away from that will be scary for me? Or, a way to face my fears or something. I know Iím not the only one with this issue so maybe some of you can understand. I would rather face my fear because I donít want to pass it to my kids or miss out on beautiful landscapes because of it. FYI, I live in CT and the highest road I have ever drove on (well I was a passenger all 3 times I went lol) is mount Washington NH (a little over 6,000 feet).

Last edited by Montana122; Jul 10th, 2022 at 09:03 AM. Reason: I want to add a fact
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 10:13 AM
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The interstate highway system is usually graded for trucks and could be used when crossing the Continental Divide. There are exceptions (I80 going down to Truckee in the Sierra), but even so, guardrails are the norm.
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 10:26 AM
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Welcome to Fodors Montana122! I do understand your fear of being close to cliffs whether you are driving or walking. One of the most spectacular views of cliffs in Colorado is the view from the Amtrak California Zephyr of the Glenwood Canyon east of Glenwood Springs Colorado. If you don't have a fear of flying, take a flight to Denver and spend at least overnight there getting used to the elevation. The California Zephyr leaves the Denver transportation center a little after 8AM every day (sometimes late) and arrives in Glenwood Springs in the mid to late afternoon.
There is a great bus service from Glenwood Springs up to Aspen (42 miles) up the Roaring Fork. Glenwood Springs also has the worlds largest hot spring fed swimming pool. There is a great paved hiking and bicycle trail along the Colorado River into the canyon.
If you wanted to go farther west, you could also go through Grand Junction and through the Ruby Canyon into Utah. You could fly home from Salt Lake City.
The other train possibility would be to take the Empire Builder west from Chicago or Saint Paul to Whitefish Montana. You should be able to get a Red Bus tour in Glacier NP going over the Going to the Sun Road.
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 11:19 AM
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I live in CO and I'm not a fan of some of those roads either.

You'll want to avoid some mountain passes like Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton, and Molas and Coal Bank Pass between Silverton and Durango. Then of course there's Independence Pass, Monarch Pass and Rabbit Ears. And of course you'll want to avoid driving up to Pikes Peak and Mount Evans (you can take a cog train up to Pikes Peak though, no need to drive).

Here's a list of passes you might want to avoid:

https://303magazine.com/2017/12/proc...ds-and-passes/

If you do decide to face your fears, know that guard rails are common, especially on corners with drop offs, and it's highly unlikely you'll go careening off the side of a mountain pass if you're traveling on dry roads in the middle of the summer, drive within the speed limit and pay attention.

I suggest you narrow down exactly what you want to see in Colorado and then come back here and ask how to visit those places and still avoid some of the scarier roads. There's often more than one way to reach a destination, so there are alternatives, although they often take longer.

Much of Wyoming is prairie, so you'll not find as many high passes there.
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Old Jul 13th, 2022, 09:25 AM
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Good idea to take the train from Denver. Amtrak will take you to Fraser, CO, where you can get a lift to a resort/hotel. Look at Devils Thumb Ranch Resort, for higher-end accommodations, amenities, location, dining and service. https://www.devilsthumbranch.com

You could stay there, or take Amtrak on to Glenwood Springs.
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 02:13 PM
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Don't know what you want to do or see but it is easy to avoid scary roads. The area around Breckenridge, Frisco, etc. is easy driving . Breckenridge sits at the end of a box canyon (Ten Mile Canyon) and is relatively flat from I-80. Vail is accessible off of I-80. Glenwood canyon via I-80 is a great view -- all four lane, divided highway with reduced speed and the drive to Aspen is again flat going from I-80. As long as you stick to modern roads you are fine.

Are you scared of the heights or driving on roads that you perceive as unsafe because of no guard rails. All of our major roads have guard rails where needed.

Last edited by fmpden; Jul 15th, 2022 at 02:18 PM.
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Old Jul 16th, 2022, 02:40 AM
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I think he means I70 and I agree that you can easily see the beauty of Colorado without driving roads that fall off the side.
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Old Jul 16th, 2022, 05:17 AM
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Delete

Last edited by Melnq8; Jul 16th, 2022 at 05:22 AM.
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Old Jul 16th, 2022, 08:20 AM
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You can see lots of Colorado without driving on roads like that, just don't do it. I don't agree that people like that should just "face their fears" and drive those roads anyway. I think that is extremely dangerous and it's unnecessary anyway. People do die driving off steep, winding mountain roads, guardrails or not. Several people a year die driving off Blue Ridge Parkway, I know that.

Just don't drive on those roads, period, there is no reason you have to. I've been to Colorado lots and never have. When I go skiing, I am just staying in one place so don't even rent a car, and I use a booked shuttle to get to Breckenridge, for example. Although I agree, that road isn't so bad (from DEN). I have stayed in Durango and did drive north to Silverton and that was a mountain road, but I didn't go on to Ouray as I recall because that early part was enough mountain driving for me.
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Old Jul 16th, 2022, 10:10 AM
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Gretchen is correct. I meant I-70. I grew up along side I-80 in Nebraska so my mind often defaults to I-80 when discussing the Interstate system. A lot of interesting history behind I-70 through Colorado and the tunnels at the divide. In the original design of the interstate system I-70 terminated in Denver. There was no easy path west of Denver.
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Old Jul 16th, 2022, 02:15 PM
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Thank you all so much for your tips and information. I’m hoping to visit Colorado, Montana, Wyoming soon with my family. I appreciate your info!
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Old Jul 25th, 2022, 10:20 AM
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Montana122, I know exactly what you are talking about. In May I was just north of San Francisco, CA. The first place I went was narrow and winding but I held my own. The second place was a narrow road that when up and down with many hairpin turns. No guard rails. I was physically ill by the time I got to the top. On the way back there was one turn where I was very close to hitting the car in the oncoming lane or going off the cliff. One thing that I have learned is that GPS is not your friend in these areas. GPS will take you on the worst road possible. I had the same happen in PA and when I asked, the gentleman told me that there was a 4 lane interstate that ran parallel to the steep winding road.

That being said, I am also planning a trip to Colorado. My friend assures me that I will not encounter such roads in the area of Colorado Springs, Woodland Park and Manitou Springs. Can someone verify this? I have planned a trip to Pike's Peak on the train.
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Old Jul 25th, 2022, 11:27 AM
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My friend assures me that I will not encounter such roads in the area of Colorado Springs, Woodland Park and Manitou Springs. Can someone verify this?

I live in this area - and I can verify you won't encounter such roads.

Highway 24 westbound from Colorado Springs to Manitou and Woodland Park is a two lane highway in each direction - it has some curves as it goes up the mountains via Ute Pass, and it narrows in sections, but it's about as tame as mountain roads get in Colorado. Some of the road is through a canyon - there will be steep rocky terrain on the north side as you drive up, and similar rocky terrain on the south as you drive back down. The speed limit ranges from 45-55, the winding sections through the canyon have a few areas of 35 mph.

It's not scary, but pay attention and keep to the right except to pass. There are no sheer drop offs, no hairpin turns and there are guardrails on the curves.

Enjoy our beautiful state.
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Old Jul 25th, 2022, 12:21 PM
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Thank you Melnq8. That sounds very doable for me. I can hardly wait for my trip. My friend has not lived there very long and she is rather fearless.
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Old Jul 26th, 2022, 03:08 AM
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GPS will take you on the worst road possible. I had the same happen in PA and when I asked, the gentleman told me that there was a 4 lane interstate that ran parallel to the steep winding road.

Dont ask the GPS for the shortes route. Ask for most highways or interstate.
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