Skip to main content

The 5 Most Dangerous Roads in Colorado

Most people associate Colorado with the high snow-capped mountains of the Rockies. However, it’s difficult to fathom just how densely populated the peaks of Colorado are. Over 75 percent of all land above 10,000 ft. in the entire United States is contained within the Centennial State, making some of the most dangerous roads in Colorado a hazardous nightmare.

Despite its extreme altitude, the state issued America’s very first license plate for a motor vehicle in 1908. And while it is home to widely diverse terrain, Colorado remains most renowned for its famous skiing and opulent alpine villages. Navigating the state’s trademark terrain via car, however, is no easy task and why you should consider avoiding the following most dangerous roads in Colorado.

Here are the most dangerous roads in Colorado:

1. Denver Beltway

Surprisingly, not all dangers on Colorado roads are up high in the mountains. The southwestern portion of the Denver Beltway circling the metro area is State Highway 470. Although a relatively brief ride of only 27 miles, it unfortunately is a magnet for car accidents.

Passing along the Front Range between Alameda and Jewell, SH 470 travels through some very steep terrain. Some say the lack of guardrails heavily contributes to the dangerous environment. In a 2-year period between 2009 and 2010, over 175 people were injured while driving on this road. Heavy traffic coupled with several perilous interchanges also plague this section of the beltway with frequent car accidents.

2. Southern Passage

coloradoEntering the state near the Four Corners Monument and skirting across southern Colorado to the Kansas state line is U.S. Highway 160. This east-west national highway passes over the Continental Divide at Wolf Creek Pass at an elevation of 10,857 ft. During the winter months any of the passes can present difficulties and Wolf Creek is no exception.

Although the drive is mostly arid terrain, this southern route poses other types of hazards. In a 6-year period, 80 fatal accidents were recorded. Ranking 32nd nationally for DUI fatalities and 28th for high emergency service times combine to give this road its unsavory reputation.

3. Front Range Corridor

Interstate 25 is a north-south highway bisecting the state. This busy thoroughfare starts north of Fort Collins before heading down to Denver and on through Santa Fe. The Front Range Corridor it passes through is home to over 80% of the state’s population. As the main traffic artery, congestion is always heavy regardless of the date or time of day.

Sadly, in just one 4-year period, almost 200 fatalities were recorded. Some maintain that the 75-mph speed limit is too high for the number of vehicles on the road, likening it to a Nascar race with amateur drivers. Colorado State Patrol blames congestion as well as excessive speed and driver behavior as factors leading to many of the car accidents that occur on this highway.

4. Resort Gateway

Connecting Grand Junction to Denver is Interstate 70 that passes over the continental divide via Loveland Pass at an altitude of 11,990 ft. This is the highest point anywhere in the U.S. interstate highway system. The route is known for stretches of steep grades, twisting turns and treacherous winter conditions. The specter of altitude sickness going over the numerous passes poses a hazard as well. Add in heavy traffic laden with out-of-state drivers all headed to the ski resorts and it’s easy to see why car accidents are common.

As the main access from Denver to the famed resorts like Vail and Aspen, this route is notorious for large-scale congestion during the ski season. A route that is 90 minutes in summer can turn into a frustrating 3-4 hours snarled in bumper to bumper traffic. In 2008 alone over 1,900 accidents were reported in the corridor. It has gotten so bad the locals have a saying, “Friends don’t let friends drive I-70.”

5. The Million Dollar Highway

Built in the late 1930s and stretching north to south across western Colorado is U.S. 550. Originally a toll road, the origins of its colorful nickname remain a bit of a mystery. Although often applied to the entire highway, the Million Dollar portion is specifically the 25-mile passage from Ouray to Silverton. This stretch climbs over three mountain passes all at elevations over 10,000 ft. Don’t be tempted by the astonishing views to take your eyes off the road. This treacherous passage is filled with hairpin corners, steep switchbacks and vertigo-inducing drop offs that can make driving through here a real white-knuckle-affair .

The perennial heavy snows that must be removed via snowplow prevent the use of guardrails, despite a narrow shoulder and dizzying cliff sides. Earlier this year the road was closed for 3 weeks after an avalanche buried it under 60 ft. of debris.  Factor in heavy RV and semi-truck traffic, and it’s easy to see why the speed limit often drops to 10 mph. In spite of the weather, of the 412 car accidents over a 15-year period, most were in dry conditions and involved only one car. Miraculously, there were only 8 fatalities over this span. However, regardless of road conditions, this is a challenging route and not to be taken lightly.

Wyoming Car Accident Lawyers – The Advocates Casper

If you’re planning a trip through Colorado, take extra precautions to be ready for the extreme terrain and changing road conditions. If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, it’s vital to have the right legal representation. An experienced personal injury attorney can fight on your behalf, ensuring you receive all the compensation you’re entitled to.

As a premier personal injury law firm in Wyoming, the Advocates will assist you through the entire process of filing your claim. Having an attorney who specializes in car accidents takes the worry out of dealing with insurance companies, claims adjusters and hospital bills so you can focus on getting back on your feet. Don’t wait, call us today at 307-240-5317 or feel free to chat today confidentially with an attorney on our home page. You deserve an Advocate!