I'm going skiing with my family in March. Am I a fool to rent a car at the airport and drive from Denver to Winter Park?
Rent an all wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle. Avoid traveling during peak times, Friday night, Saturday morning, or Sunday afternoon. The drive is enjoyable and easy to navigate with maps and some music. Just keep in mind that cell service and data is spotty between towns on I-70 and after you exit to Winter Park.
You might have a difficult time if the weather is bad or you are traveling during peak times. The weather in Denver is not the weather in the mountains. The weather can and does change dramatically hour to hour and traffic during off peak times can still be tedious.
If you have never driven in winter weather before check out CDOTs information on Winter Driving on I70 https://www.codot.gov/travel/winter-driving/assets/CDOTI70flyerFALL14v2_Landscape.pdf
Haven't been to Winter Park in many years, but am looking forward to going back this year. We have debated renting a vehicle or taking a shuttle. Past experience tells me that as long as you stay at a place on the free bus route, you don't need a car. The buses go everywhere including the grocery store. Then we decided to check the costs of everyone taking the shuttle against the price of renting a vehicle. Have not finished the comparison but thought that I would share what we were thinking. Also you should consider how much luggage will fit into a car or SUV along with passengers against taking the shuttle. If you have to stop and get keys to a condo that is located in another place, the shuttle might not be the best choice. Don't know if they would wait. Sometimes we have people coming in at different times and it is better for the later ones to ride the shuttle instead of renting another vehicle. Just some things to think about.
Not a fool. You won't need 4 wheel drive just make sure that you rent a car that has front wheel drive. Keep in mind that most condos have a daily charge for parking, but provide free shuttle service to their guests. We have Verizon and we are able to get cell service in Winter Park and along I-70.
No not a fool. Kelly's sites are perfect, I don't think you need four wheel drive, but I'm used to driving in snow.
An alternative is, if it's just you it maybe cheaper to grab a shuttle and you won't need to worry about driving.
Home James www.homejamestransportation.com/schedule.php
Denver Discount Shuttle
BUMMER that the SKITRAIN is not running anymore.
We always rented a car and drove up the mountain. It is expensive to ride the shuttles. That being said, we usually tried to make sure that we stayed at a place that is on the free bus route. Not everybody left the slopes at the same time and whoever was driving the car ended up carpooling several trips. You can also ride the bus to the grocery stores, the tubing hill, and local restaurants. They also run until about midnight or after. We have rented all kinds of vehicles and have never had any problem getting around. Never had a four wheel drive. Did go up the mountain in a blizzard once and you should be aware that sometimes elk decide to cross I-70 so keep a look out. Hope you have a great trip and do the Lonesome Whistle for me. One of my favorites.
Totally agree with Kelly's response above. This winter has been exceptionally warm, so hopefully you won't have many problems. Definitely go with a 4-wheel drive if possible (although I have a Jetta and in light/moderate snow, I have little problems). There are bus services from DIA to the mountain towns, but you'd be car-less once you got there!
Also keep in mind that DIA is about 20 miles east of downtown Denver. So, depending on the time you fly in, you might not be able to get on the slopes the same day. If you're planning on skiing on the same day as you fly home, definitely give yourself ample time to get back to the airport. I-70 east can be a nightmare on Sunday afternoons.
Enjoy your vacation!!