As I mentioned in the introduction to this series of travel journal, there are 2 major ski resorts in Colorado, and besides Aspen, the other is Vail. I did not visit Vail but instead chose Beaver Creek, a sister resort to Vail and located in the same area. Both Vail and Beaver Creek are on the other side of the valley, and with no regular public transportation method, I figured the cheapest way was to rent a car from Aspen Airport (ASE) and drop it off at Eagle County Airport (EGE). It costs me about $160 for a 3-day Compact car rental, and it was quite reasonable I think. The car I was provided was a Chevrolet Sonic and with the back seats down, it was not a big problem to place my snowboard and luggage. For more than 2 persons, this car I think is a bit on the small side.
With the car, it was easy to drive around Aspen with several free parking around the town. On that day, I also realized I left my iPad in the room at the Westin Snowmass. Fortunately, I was able to call the front desk and ensure they keep it for me. I was able to drop by the front desk at Snowmass before driving off towards Beaver Creek in the afternoon. That slight delay turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I will mention why later.
The valley at Snowmass was actually beautiful on the day I left since the sun melted some of the snowfall that have accumulated in the past week I was there. Mid to late March was actually a good time to visit Aspen/Snowmass since you would most probably get both a powder and clear day of skiing/snowboarding within a week. To get to Beaver Creek, drivers just need to head on the Colorado 80 West then switching to I-70 East at the town of Glenwood Springs. It was a pretty straightforward drive from Aspen, especially with the clear sunny weather.
The first portion of the drive from Snowmass to Glenwood Springs was the usual highway roads in North America with some nice sights in between. With fast driving and clear traffic it probably takes about 45 minutes to reach Glenwood Springs. To access the interstate, drivers will need to pass through the centre of this town. For those with the time to spare, the small town is quite picturesque and features a hot springs resort for weary travellers and skiers to rest and relax. But I did not stop and proceeded along the highway, where the road signs were fairly easy to follow. However I had a sat-nav that I brought along so it was not a big issue directions wise.
The really fun part that was worth writing about was the drive from Glenwood Springs to Gypsum/Eagle Country as the Interstate 70 highway cuts through the heart of the White River National Forest in Colorado. The winding road carves through the gorge and follows the flow of the river, and the scenery was just amazing! There was canyons and gorges on both sides and the route goes through some tunnels as well. I would say this road-trip is just worth it even for this driving experience. One of my favourite drives of all time is the Sea-to-Sky Highway route from Vancouver to Whistler, but this drive between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum on the I-70/US-6 probably ranks second on that short list!
Driving through the valley with the Chevrolet Sonic was much better than I envisioned! The short wheelbase allows the car to handle itself very well in those turns and the ride was definitely stable enough on the open stretches beside those trailer trucks heading towards Denver. For those keen to do some hiking, I am pretty sure there are some fantastic spots, as I spotted an interesting area called Hanging Lake along the route.
Traffic while within the National Forest was also light and drivers were courteous to keep right, allowing faster drivers to cut through them if they wanted to. The feeling of serenity of just driving in such beautiful scenery makes it really relaxing, and probably some drivers were just soaking in the sights. All the twists and turns amidst the canyons was just a bonus to go along with the drive and I imagine it should be one of the nation’s great drives. The only part that left me wanting for more is the distance is just a bit short.
Once the drive gets past the canyons and mountains, the highway sorts of opens up before reaching the town of Gypsum, part of Eagle County. While not as majestic, the scenery of a valley plain allowed more habitation and a highway rest stop provided me the opportunity to take a breather from the exhilarating drive as well as to take some photos of the warm sunset. That was another reason why the delay in going back to Snowmass might be a blessing a disguise as the scenery was just fantastic! The light traffic along the drive was also perfect to enjoy a leisurely afternoon road trip!
From Gypsum, the highway becomes a bit more like the rest of the interstate in the US, and more of the usual though the scenery is still a change of what I am used to with the red rocks of Colorado dotting the landscape. As we got closer to Beaver Creek, more snow could be seen on the mountains.
The approach into Beaver Creek is another highlight of the drive as the sights of the slopes beckons skiers into the well planned resort. While there was no snowboarding done for this day that I spent relaxing at Aspen and driving towards Beaver Creek, it was a very enjoyable journey to drive between these 2 world-class ski resorts, and I do encourage those who enjoy driving to try out the drive between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum in Colorado! With that note, I leave the 2 photos I took of the Chevrolet Sonic from Avis to end the post! Great little hatchback they are, so for anyone looking for a fun and value-for-money city car capable of some mountain runs, I do recommend this vehicle as well!