Panorama of I-70 and Copper Mountain

It’s almost time to pack up the car with all your winter adventure gear and head to the mountains to rack up the vertical feet! Located just 75 miles west of Denver, Copper Mountain is a top destination for skiers and snowboarders seeking to let out all their hoots and hollers. Known for its world-class, naturally divided terrain, Copper complements the experiences with off-slope activities including the Rocky Mountain Coaster, tubing hill, and Woodward Barn – a 19,000 sq. ft. action sports playground. But wait, before you shove off in your hunt for powder, make sure you and your vehicle are ready to take on the roads.

Anyone who has made the trek to Summit County during a winter storm will tell you that I-70 is not to be taken lightly. Winter storms can arrive quickly and be both intimidating and frustrating if you or other drivers are unprepared to meet the conditions.

Here are some helpful winter driving and vehicle preparation tips to help you and yours arrive safely at Copper Mountain.

Before winter hits, prepare with a new set of tires:

  • Winter or all-weather tires are a must and fulfill requirements for safe travel under Colorado’s mandatory passenger traction law. Never underestimate the benefits of a good set of winter tires. When conditions are snowy or icy, you’ll want that extra grip on the road. There are tons of great options to choose from when it comes to outfitting your car with new shoes. Check out some of the best types of tires for winter from our partners at Nokian Tyres.
    • All-Weather Tires
      • Great for winter and summer use. All-weather tires will help protect you in winter and don’t have to switched out between seasons. For an all-weather option, the Nokian WRG4 tires ensures fuel savings and predictable grip year-round on wet and snowy roads, perfect for city drivers making the weekend ski trips to the mountains. Don’t confuse all-weather tires with all-season tires – the latter do not meet federal guidelines for winter traction.
    • Studded Winter Tires
      • Unlike other states, studded tires are legal year-round in Colorado (but never recommended for warm temperatures). Studded tires are a great choice if you are an inexperienced winter driver and want a little extra traction on the road. Drivers looking for uncompromised winter safety will find comfort in the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 studded tires. Double studs provide optimal lateral grip on snowy/icy surfaces and winding mountain roads. There is even a version specifically designed for electric vehicles, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10EV.
    • Non-Studded Winter Tires
      • Non-studded tires are designed with a special tread with a softer rubber that can withstand freezing temperatures and keeps the rubber flexible, which is important for gripping the road. Non-studded winter tires are another good option for mountain town locals who frequently drive in winter conditions. Nokian’s Hakkapeliitta R3 Non-Studded Tire provides a sustainable option to increase fuel savings and includes the highest safety characteristics.

Check your tire pressure:

Review Colorado’s traction laws:

  • As of 2019, Colorado has a mandatory passenger traction law that is always active on parts of I-70 during the winter months, including between Morrison and Copper Mountain. As part of the law, vehicles are required to have winter tires, mud and snow designated tires, or tires with an all-weather rating. Any of these three types of tires must also have a minimum 3/16-inch tread depth. Vehicles that are 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and have tires with 3/16-inch tread depth or more also qualify for safe travel in challenging conditions. Both locals and out-of-state visitors should review the law ahead of traveling to make sure their vehicle is equipped for the road. If a motorist is found to have inadequate equipment, they could be fined $130-$650 if they are blocking the road.

Keep on top of the current conditions:

  • Weather in the mountains is highly unpredictable. Look ahead before starting your driving into the Rockies. For the latest travel forecast to Copper Mountain, visit

Pack for emergencies:

  • You can never be overprepared. When in doubt, pack it. Extra supplies should always be kept in your vehicle in case of emergency. In the off chance you’re stranded or stuck on the road overnight due to weather, it’s good to come prepared. Extra food, water, a sleeping bag, flashlight, and a good pair of boots and gloves can make an unfortunate situation much better.

Drive according to the conditions:

  • Slow your roll in the wintertime. Putting the pedal to the metal will only spell trouble for you and your fellow motorists who want to charge the mountain. Evaluate your driving often to make sure it’s fitting for the conditions. That includes making cautious decisions about passing, braking, and changing lanes.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and other drivers. When the roads get slick, you want that extra time to react in case a collision or accident occurs in front of you. Leaving space will allow you time to slow down, stop, or lessen your chances of causing additional damage.
  • Keep your focus on the road. Limit distractions from devices and passengers.
  • Calm steering is key. Braking hard or making abrupt moves may cause you to swerve or lose control of the vehicle. Try to avoid panicking. Stay relaxed and look for a safe place to gently veer if you find yourself losing control.

These tips have been recommended in part by Nokian Tyres and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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