Dangerous Colorado Mountain Roads & Passes

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Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful scenic drives in the country. From the mountain ranges to the diverse and colorful foliage, these roadside scenes are a sight to behold. Unfortunately, these roads are also some of the most dangerous in the world to drive.

The inherent dangers on these roads come from a variety of sources. First, the very mountains that give these roads such spectacular views also make them risky to drive on. Rockslides and steep cliffs are common in Colorado. Next, winter weather accumulation makes these roads slippery and tough to maneuver.

Finally, the roads around Vail and Summit County are quite busy, especially during ski season, when tourists who are not used to driving on Colorado roads flock to our state. Even well-prepared local drivers could find themselves involved in a serious accident because of these out-of-state drivers.

It is no surprise then that the roads most frequently used by tourists to visit Colorado ski resorts are among the most dangerous in the world. When traveling on the following Colorado roads, be sure to drive safely and be on the lookout for ill-prepared drivers.


The Million Dollar Highway

Perhaps Colorado’s most famous road, the Million Dollar Highway is also one of the most dangerous. The origin of the nickname is disputed but supposedly comes from one of several local sayings, including:

  • “You’d have to pay me a million dollars to drive that road in the winter.”
  • “It costs a million dollars to build each mile of the road.”
  • “The fill dirt under the road contains a million dollars in gold ore.”

Although the road is only 25 miles long, it reaches some staggering heights. You will have to travel across three mountain passes, including Coal Bank Pass, Molas Pass, and Red Mountain Pass before you reach the end.

What makes the road so dangerous for inexperienced — and experienced — drivers is the fact that the road twists and turns through the mountain.

Colorado State Highway 82

Since this road leads to Aspen, only in the summer, it is popular among tourists and locals alike. This road is dangerous because of the extreme heights that it reaches. At the top of Independence Pass, you are nearly 12,100 feet high.

Highway 82 also has several stretches of road that allow only one car at a time. The Colorado Department of Transportation shuts down Highway 82 over the winter because of the dangers to drivers.

Colorado Interstate Highway 70

Also known as I-70, many consider this highway to be the most dangerous road in the state.

This is because it sees far too many injuries and fatalities each year, as it is extremely crowded. Combine that with Colorado’s notorious winter weather and tons of out-of-state drivers on the road, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Remember, while driving these roads, especially in the winter, it is important to drive slowly and follow all traffic laws. Make sure you prepare your vehicle for the trip.

Never drive one of these roads on bald tires, as Colorado State Law requires snow tires or chains in the mountains. Most importantly, be patient with other drivers.

However, sometimes accidents happen. If you or a loved one suffers an injury while traveling on any Colorado roads, the car accident attorneys in Vail and Colorado Springs, Colorado at Sears & Associates P.C. are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation: 719-471-1984.

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About Lance Sears

Lance has over thirty five years of trial experience. In 2003, Mr. Sears was named a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers (ISOB), a prestigious international organization with only approximately 600 members throughout the English-speaking world. Lance Sear's Google+ Profile

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