Preparing for Winter in Colorado

As the snow descends and we see winter in Colorado for the first time this season the biggest question stands: how do I prepare myself for the cold weather? Here are a few things you can do to prepare your car and yourself for an outing in the coming winter weather. Winter in Colorado can be brutal and scary but with the right preparation you can live and travel comfortably without finding yourself dangerously caught in the snow.

Is my Vehicle Ready for Winter in Colorado? 

You should ask your trusted mechanic to give you the proper advice for winterizing your personal vehicle, but here are a few things they will likely recommend. Make sure your fluids are the ones designed for winter weather if necessary. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, everyone MUST have some type of snow tire in order to be safe during winter in Colorado. This rule, called the active traction law, went into effect last August. According to the active traction law, during winter in Colorado you must drive a 4-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle, as well as have snow/mud tires and/or snow chains. It is a good idea for ALL vehicles on the road to have a set of snow chains, just in case a passenger vehicle chain law is put in motion. This means everyone driving on the highway must have chains on their vehicles and is enacted during bad winter storms. You never know when one of these bad winter storms could hit and you end up stranded. 

To prepare for winter in Colorado you should keep an emergency kit in your car. An ideal kit would have tire chains, abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, and a small shovel to help you get out of snow or mud. A flashlight with extra batteries as well as ice scraper, rags, and paper towels. Another item that isn’t thought of, but a good idea to include, are elbow length rubber gloves to cover thinner winter gloves and keep your hands dry while working in the snow. Flares or other warning devices are good things to have as well as booster/jumper cables and a first aid kit. Have blankets or extra jackets, hats and gloves for you and your passengers just in case. It is also a good idea to have snacks and water for you and passengers, even the four legged kind, in case you are stuck for a while. Lastly, keep your phone charged before you hit the road and have either a car charger or portable charger with you. Drive safe, buckle up, stay in when you can. However, when you just can’t resist hiking in the beauty that can also be winter in Colorado, make sure you do it safely.

winter preparation colorado

Winter hiking in Colorado

One of the most important things to remember while hiking during winter in Colorado is LAYER, LAYER, LAYER. This is important as the saying represents the three layers you should have. The goal is to have enough to stay warm but not enough to sweat profusely under your clothes, making you cold in the long run. Your base layer should be something moisture wicking, but warm, such as thermals. The middle layer should be something heavier such as flannels or fleece. Then an outer layer of warm winter coat and pants or rain gear. Boots should always be waterproof, with layers of warm socks. It is also a good idea to carry sunglasses, hats, and facemasks. When you go hiking you should always carry some type of Navigation or map, Headlamp with extra batteries, Sun protection, First aid, Knife, Fire (matches, lighter, firestarter),  Shelter, Extra food, Extra water, Extra clothes. You never know when conditions could worsen and you could end up stranded during winter in Colorado. Always check the forecast of where you want to go and it is essential to take a class about avalanche safety before heading out. Avalanches can be extremely dangerous and you should be well informed or with an experienced group before going to places where one could be a possibility. 

Before you go back country skiing, snowboarding, or even hiking during winter in Colorado you should look into getting a “COSAR” card also known as a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue Card. The costs of these cards go towards any cost teams incur during rescue missions, which you could wind up being thankful for later. It is important to leave a detailed itinerary with someone at home. This person should understand their role to report any known emergent circumstances, serious injuries, medical episodes, or failure to communicate after the planned timeline of your trip.

colorado upcoming winter

They should have the following information:

Number of persons involved as well as the Name, age, and gender of each person. Phone numbers for each person and their Physical descriptions, including clothing and equipment. Details and timeline from the itinerary and Last known location of the lost party. Last known Location of the lost party’s vehicle and the Vehicle description as well as license plate number. They should also know how much experience the group has. 

Before you set off to enjoy winter in Colorado, you should make sure your car and the people with you are ready and prepared. Animals should have snow boots and thermal gear just like people in order to ensure their safety. Winter in Colorado can be fun and beautiful but in a moment things can turn dangerous. Be aware of the dangers in nature such as weather, terrain, and predators. It is important to be informed and prepared for whatever might lay ahead in order to enjoy Colorado’s beauty safely.

Written by: Erinn Malloy

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