If You’re Among The Nearly 2 Million Coloradans Traveling Over Christmas, Here’s How To Avoid The Worst Traffic

December 20, 2019
Traffic in Denver on a snowy evening. Traffic in Denver on a snowy evening. Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Traffic in Denver on a snowy evening.

AAA expects some 1.96 million residents to travel between Dec. 21 and Jan. 1 — an all-time record, the travel advocacy group says.

The vast majority — 1.78 million — will do so in a car. But unlike the Thanksgiving holiday, when most travel happens in just a handful of days, Christmas travel will be more spread out.

That means motorists can avoid the worst traffic by observing a few simple rules, AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley said:

  • First, leave early in the morning.
  • Second, don't drive on Dec. 26, the day after Christmas.

"On that day, I would say budget extra time," McKinley said, adding that travel times could double that day depending on your travel plans.

If you do find yourself in a sea of red lights, McKinley advises doing your best to relax.

"Every time I'm stuck in traffic I say to myself, 'I hate traffic,' up until I remember that I am traffic," he said. "You're out on the roads, and so is everybody else."

The Colorado Department of Transportation expects traffic on I-70 west of Denver to be busy on Christmas Eve and the days following the holiday. More than 46,000 cars passed through the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel the day after Christmas in 2018, a 42 percent increase over the day before.

The agency says it will suspend lane closures in most construction zones to help alleviate congestion. It also warns that eastbound I-70 at Floyd Hill may close between 7-8:30 a.m. because of blinding sun glare, a phenomenon that plagues the roadway from November through February every year.

Our lives have changed ...

CPR will not compromise in serving you and our community. Vital news and essential music are made possible by member support.

Donate