Winter Driving Tips

Thanks to Salida’s mild climate and valley location, severe winter weather driving conditions happen infrequently. But, it’s still a good idea to make sure you’re familiar with all the winter driving tips and techniques. This is especially true if you plan on heading up further into the mountains during your Salida vacation. A little bit of planning and preparation can go a long way in helping to ensure your safety when it comes to driving in snowy or icy conditions. To help you prepare for conditions you may encounter while visiting, we’ve put together some winter driving tips to make it easier for you get ready for your trip and to stay safe on the road.

Pay Attention to Weather Forecasts


Most likely, you’ll check the weather before you arrive to see what sorts of conditions you can expect while you’re here. Don’t forget to keep checking the forecasts after you’ve arrived, though. It’s important to stay aware of the potential for snowy and icy conditions so that you can adjust your plans accordingly. If a significant amount of snow is anticipated, it’s best to avoid high mountain passes and roads that aren’t maintained or plowed by local or state agencies.

Choose Your Rental Car Wisely


Rental CarsIf you’ll be renting a car for your Salida vacation, take some time to consider the current weather forecast as well as your planned activities. In most instances, highways and other frequently used roads won’t be severely impacted after a few inches of snowfall. Side roads, however, can become problematic. If you anticipate spending a significant amount of time in areas that may not be plowed regularly, it’s probably best to opt for a four- or all-wheel drive vehicle.

Just because a vehicle is bigger, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. You should choose  a rental that you’re comfortable driving. If you must drive on snowy or icy roads, it’s crucial that you feel sure of yourself and your ability to maneuver your chosen vehicle. You may also want to contact your rental car company to see if their vehicles are outfitted with all-weather tires and if they provide items like snow brushes and ice scrapers.

Slow and Steady


Perhaps the biggest component of safely getting from Point A to Point B on snowy/icy roads is driving slowly. Refrain from slamming on the brakes or the gas pedal. Your car will either skid, slide, or spin out if you try to stop or start too quickly. Everything you’ll do while driving should be done in slow, gradual movements. When the roads are snowy, you will not be able to stop on a dime. So remember to give yourself plenty of time to come to a complete stop and to get going again after that stop. This applies whether you’re driving a compact car or an SUV with four-wheel drive. Many people mistakenly assume that four-wheel drive vehicles are immune from the need to slow down in slick conditions. But it doesn’t matter what vehicle you’re driving – if you’re going too fast in the snow or ice, you can easily get into a car accident.

Stay Aware


Vehicles Driving in Snowy Conditions at a Stop LightThere are a lot of variables that play a part in your safety on the road. One variable that you should not forget about is other drivers. You may be incredibly experienced with handling the snow and ice, but not everyone is and accidents can happen in a heartbeat. When you head out, stay very aware of your surroundings and other drivers.

At stop signs or traffic lights, look around and make sure that drivers who should be stopping, actually are. Many people don’t give themselves enough time to stop in bad conditions, which makes intersections particularly hazardous. In addition, allow for plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Should they start to slide or lose control of their car, you’ll need adequate time to avoid the situation.

Use Inertia to Conquer Hills


If you must travel up a hill or inclined road of any type, inertia will help you get to the top. You’ll want to get a little inertia going before you get to the beginning of the incline, which will propel you forward. If you can avoid it, don’t stop while going up an icy hill as it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get going again. Similarly, don’t try to accelerate up the icy hill by applying a lot of pressure to the gas pedal. This will make your tires spin, which will eliminate any forward momentum you had going.

Stock Up if You’ll be Heading Off the Beaten Path


Car on a Snowy Mountain RoadIf you plan on taking an extended excursion to areas that are a bit more rural or secluded, make some preparations before you head out. Fully charge your phone and bring along paper maps if you’re traveling to an area with which you’re unfamiliar. Purchase a snow brush or ice scraper if you don’t already have one. Bring along blankets and warm clothes as well as extra food and water. Head out with a full gas tank and bring along a bag of sand or kitty litter. A full gas tank will give your more vehicle more weight, which can provide extra traction. The sand or kitty litter can provide traction if your vehicle gets stuck. Above all, if you’ll be venturing to parts unknown, let someone know where you’ll be going and when you expect to be back.


If You Don’t Have to Go Out, Stay In


If the road conditions are bad and it’s not necessary for you to be out and about, by all means, spend a day in. It’s far better to relax in the comfort of one of Creekside’s cabins (and maybe enjoy some time in your hot tub), than to risk your life out on the road.

Additional Tips:


  • If you do get stuck, stay with your car and wait for help. It can be very dangerous to head out on foot in snowy weather.
  • When you’re driving, keep your vehicle completely free of snow. Snow on your roof can (and often will) slide down and obscure your front or rear windshield.
  • When driving in snowy conditions, keep your headlights on. This makes it easier for other drivers to see you.
  • If you’ll be driving your own car, consider investing in snow chains if significant snowfall is expected. Some mountain passes will require snow chains in bad conditions. However, many rental car companies prohibit the use of snow chains on their cars.
  • Check road conditions before you go and while you’re here at the COtrip website.
  • The higher you go in altitude, the worse the conditions will be. So if Salida is experiencing a bad snow storm, it’s definitely not the time to head up to nearby mountain passes.

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