I-70 Congestion Means Skiers and Snowboarders Make Fewer Trips to the Mountains | 45% Avoid Weekends Altogether

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I-70, traffic, Colorado
I-70 on a normal winter weekend…

A new study by the I-70 Coalition has found that skiers and snowboarders are choosing to make fewer trips to the mountains due to congestion on Interstate 70, reports Vail DailyThis winter the nonprofit organization sponsored a research study to learn how frequent I-70 travelers deal with weekend congestion, along with a number of other topics.

One of the standout findings voiced by skiers and riders was that congestion on I-70 has reduced their frequency of visits to ski areas along the corridor. I-70 connects Denver and the Front Range to resorts such as Copper, Breckenridge, Vail, A-Basin, Loveland, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Winter Park (via US 40) and Aspen Snowmass (via US 82).

67% of respondents reported taking fewer trips because of traffic compared. Participants seemed more likely to brave the traffic if they invested in a season pass, with 62% of passholders claiming fewer trips and 78% of those without passes claiming fewer trips. Older recreationists were less likely to reduce trips because of congestion (65% of respondents older than 35) compared with younger individuals (73% of respondents younger than 35).

While some are taking fewer trips, the data also revealed that the trips they’re making may be getting longer. Forty-five percent of skiers reported taking more overnight trips to minimize time on the interstate compared with 37% from 2017.

traffic, I-70, Colorado
You can only wish this is a bad dream. Image: Elevationoutdoors.com

A massive 95% of respondents said they took active efforts to avoid high traffic volumes on I-70, and many shared their preferred methods of escaping the overcrowding. Among the most common strategies were trying to arrive at the resort early (65% of respondents), leaving the resort early (57%), staying overnight near the resort (51%) and avoiding weekend skiing altogether (45%).

“It’s clear frequent travelers are getting increasingly frustrated, and they’re utilizing multiple congestion avoidance strategies and finding that even with those they’re still finding it hard to avoid long travel times on I-70,” a researcher said. “A concerning statistic is the number of people reducing their trips to the mountains. That’s not the trend we want to see.”

In addition to more general data collected on skier visits to resorts along the I-70 corridor, the study also looked into behaviors surrounding things like carpooling, use of traffic information resources and awareness of safety measures like passenger vehicle traction laws.

The data revealed that the more individuals travel to the mountains, the more likely they are to use traffic information sources and the more aware they are of traction laws. According to the study, 79% of individuals who make more than 20 trips to the mountains a season use traffic information sources like CoTrip.org or Google Maps to monitor traffic and road conditions compared with 57% of individuals who make 10 or fewer trips.

“The encouraging news is there’s an increase in carpooling, and a lot of respondents said they’d be very likely to take a bus,” Bowes said. “Even as we improve and expand capacity, we’re always going to need to focus on increasing carpooling and transit use to reduce the number of vehicles.”

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