Travelers hitting the road early to avoid I-70 Memorial Day traffic

GEORGETOWN, Colo. (KDVR) — Ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year — the Memorial Day holiday — travelers are hitting the roads early, and AAA is warning drivers of what to expect.

On Thursday afternoon at Georgetown’s visitor center off Interstate 70, travelers were stopping by the dozens. Many of them, like Stephen Thomas of Michigan, hit the road early to avoid weekend traffic.

“It’s beautiful around here. We wanted to get through all of this before all of the traffic came in,” Thomas said.

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Thomas was not the only one taking in the beautiful mountain view along I-70. Sharon and Steve Anderson took a long route from California on their way to a wedding.

“It’s been one of the most beautiful drives up the coast of California and still got great snowpack, and we got to hit Vail and Steamboat Springs and Aspen,” Steve Anderson said.

A long exposure shot of I-70 westbound near Silver Plume
A long exposure shot of I-70 westbound near Silver Plume

The Colorado Department of Transportation put out numbers ahead of the weekend and the start of summer travel season. The most heavily traveled days were expected to be westbound I-70 on Friday and eastbound on Memorial Day.

Here is what travel looked like for Memorial Day weekend in 2023:

  • Friday, May 26: 25,884 vehicles traveled westbound and 17,092 vehicles traveled eastbound for a total of 42,976

  • Saturday, May 27: 21,301 vehicles traveled westbound and 15,006 traveled eastbound for a total of 36,307

  • Sunday, May 28: 16,412 vehicles traveled westbound and 20,951 traveled eastbound for a total of 37,363

  • Monday, May 29: 14,336 vehicles traveled westbound and 26,242 traveled eastbound for a total of 40, 478.

AAA expects a near-record-breaking travel weekend too.

“Overall travel numbers are up 4% compared to last year. We are up 2.33% over 2019, which signals a real rebound from the pandemic,” Skyler McKinley with AAA said.

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Snow will be a factor this weekend in the high country. Snow began to fall late Thursday afternoon.

“Speed is going to be the key consideration. If you’re heading to the high country and you run into snow, slow down, take it easy, don’t rush. You have a long weekend. You have plenty of time,” McKinley said.

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