Visiting from Queensland Australia and want information on safety of driving from Denver to Colorado around 23 December for few days.. Experienced driver but of course don't get snow or icy roads where we live.
Here is the National Park web site with road and weather information. Bookmark it and check it often when you are there. [original link]
This tells you which roads are open and closed and gives driving conditions.
Well, you can't drive through Rocky Mountain National Park at that time, if that's your question. Trail Ridge Road - the only road through the park - closes at the higher elevations for the entire winter. To get to Grand Lake, you have to go west on I-70, then north on US 40, through Winter Park. The Winter Park Ski Resort is right there, so they keep the road open, for the most part, in the winter.
I think the biggest problem you'll have is not necessarily the drive from Denver, but the drives around town. Getting stuck in the snow, skidding on ice, backing into snowbanks: that all happens on city streets. Colorado is really good about keeping I-70 open and clear, and you won't hit the really mountainous part anyway. I don't know what you're planning on doing in Grand Lake, but there are shuttles from the airport that will take you there. Just depends on how many people you have and what sort of activities you have planned.
Well this isn't an easy one, it certainly depends on the weather at the time. I have driven it several times but, not during or after a storm, Occasionally they do completely close the roads too. I will ask a friend to answer this as he lives there and in Vail year around.
It can be a crap-shoot. If you have never driven on snow or ice, it could be a challenge. 90-95% of the time, there is little problem. Any part of the drive will likely have some icy or snowpacked spots. Berthoud Pass is the only truly mountainous section, and as mentioned above, it is well-maintained but a heavy storm can make it a nail-biter (or closed altogether). That said, hoards of skiers drive it nearly every day. Grand Lake itself is accustomed to snow and can take care of its streets pretty well (however, your lodgings may be on a road with less maintenance).
Definitely upgrade your rental car for an all-wheel drive. Some agencies may have a winter or "skiers" package which may include snow chains.
Hope you pull it off and have a merry Colorado Christmas!
The national park web site has a link to the state road condition web site for all Colorado roads. If you don't want to check that, here is the state site. We have the same thing in California and it's great for checking immediate road conditions because they can change very quickly. [original link]
We don't have a 4-wheel drive but we're used to winter. You might find it very helpful. The shuttle might be even better if your plans allow for that.
It's absolutely beautiful there. Enjoy.