The 5 Most Dangerous Roads | Colorado Springs Injury Lawyers
Colorado is one of the most popular travel destinations in the United States, annually drawing millions of visitors from every corner of the globe to enjoy its world-famous slopes, relaxing spas and resorts, booming cultural hotspots, and diverse wildlife.
While there is much to love about the Centennial State, the meandering terrains and inclement weather can make for a white-knuckle challenge for drivers. According to statistics collected by the Colorado State Patrol, in 2017, there were more than 3,700 motor vehicle accidents in the state, including nearly 300 fatal crashes.
While state natives and residents may know about the dangers of Colorado roads, particularly in the dead of winter, many visitors are simply unaware of the precarious conditions they’ll face when motoring across the state. Here’s a look at five of the most dangerous roads in Colorado, and what to expect while traveling on each.
5. Rabbit Ears Pass Highway
Named for the two columns of basalt rock jutting from the summit, Rabbit Ears Pass is a high mountain pass that stretches across some 56 square miles of the Rocky Mountains.
Completed in 1917, the Rabbit Ears Pass Highway has long served as one of the most important transcontinental road links in America. The road connects Kremmling and Steamboat Springs via U.S. Highway 40, making it a popular route for those looking for a weekend getaway filled with skiing and relaxing hot springs.
With an elevation of just over 9,400 feet, Rabbit Ears Pass is lower than many other mountain passes in the area, but it is still inundated with heavy snowstorms during the winter, making avalanches, icy roads, and low visibility all too common.
4. Loveland Pass Road
Located in Summit County, Loveland Pass is a high mountain pass that extends nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. To reach the summit, drivers must ascend a stretch of U.S. Highway 6 commonly known as Loveland Pass Road.
Although it is typically open year-round, Loveland Pass Road is notorious for treacherous driving conditions in the winter months, as snow removal is often excessively difficult. It features a number of terrifying trials not for the faint of heart, including a steep 6.7 percent road grade, numerous unguarded switchbacks, and dangerous drop-offs.
Since 1973, many travelers have avoided this harrowing road by opting for the Eisenhower Tunnel along Interstate 70; unfortunately, though, the tunnel does not accommodate trucks measuring 13 feet, 5 inches, in height or more, meaning many 18-wheeler and other commercial vehicle drivers are required to take the high road.
3. Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Running parallel to the Pikes Peak Highway is the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Considered the highest paved road in North America, the 28-mile route winds its way up to the 14,000-foot elevation of the Mount Evans summit.
As travelers cross the byway, they must deal with increasingly steep climbs–culminating in the last five miles with road grades between two and five percent—as well as blind curves and hairpin switchbacks. The high elevation also makes the road susceptible to heavy snowfalls and dangerously low visibility, which is why it is usually only accessible from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
Though it can be a daunting challenge for drivers, the byway does offer some of the most stunning vistas the state has to offer. The route snakes through five climate zones, past lakes and forests to above the timberline, where visitors are greeted with a panoramic view that displays all the natural pageantry of the Colorado terrain.
2. Pikes Peak Highway
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Known as “America’s Mountain,” Pikes Peak is located in the Rocky Mountains in El Paso County and extends more than 14,000 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest roads in America. A jewel of the Colorado landscape, Pikes Peak serves as the majestic backdrop of the city of Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods. It is not only the most visited mountain in North America but also the second most visited in the world, behind only Mount Fuji in Japan.
The route to the fourteener’s summit is known as Pikes Peak Highway, a 19-mile toll road built in 1915 that hosts over half a million travelers each year. Even in ideal conditions, motorists are tasked with many challenges along the asphalt road, which features more than 150 turns, including a number of unnerving switchbacks, as well as drops of many hundreds of feet that are unprotected by guardrails.
These issues are only compounded as ice and snow start to form over the pass in early autumn. The slightest change in acceleration or handling can cause a vehicle to spin out, swerve, or lose control completely. While the road is at least partially open year-round, closures are very common when temperatures drop to near or below freezing.
For more than 125 years, those looking for an alternative up the highway hopped aboard the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, but the service was halted in 2018 after an evaluation showed the infrastructure and equipment were unsafe.
1. The Million Dollar Highway
Part of the San Juan Skyway, the Million Dollar Highway was built in the late 1880s, and over the past more than a century, it has gained a reputation for boasting one of the most scenic drives in the country, becoming a particular favorite for motorcyclists.
This 25-mile stretch traces U.S. Route 550 from Silverton to Ouray, winding its way up three large mountain passes–Coal Bank Pass, Molas Pass, and Red Mountain Pass–each of which has an elevation that exceeds 10,500 feet.
The driving conditions in the zone are highly unpredictable. Snow begins to blanket the road in October and rainfall brings cascades and landslides onto the highway—as indicated by the “Beware of Falling Rocks” signs that punctuate the narrow, cliff-hugging roads. Tire chains are often required to navigate the road safely in winter, and closures are a frequent occurrence. Making this highway even more dangerous is the lack of such common safety measures as shoulders and guardrails.
Driving on the Million Dollar Highway can be an unforgettable experience, as motorists get to enjoy a long stretch of breathtaking vistas, but with the high elevation, gnarly weather conditions, and minimal safety features, drivers must stay alert at all times.
Contact Our Colorado Car Accident Lawyers
At Zinda Law Group, our Colorado car accident attorneys have seen first-hand how the dangerous driving conditions across the state can affect someone’s life in an instant.
We have helped thousands of car crash victims get their lives back on track after a wreck. Our personal injury lawyers have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you pursue maximum compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and much more.
Our firm also works on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your case. That’s our No Fee Guarantee.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle crash, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our experienced Colorado car accident lawyers.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.