Road Trip to Rocky Mountains: 6 Tips for Safe Driving

Fresh air, amazing landscapes, and a new experience every day: the Rocky Mountains are wonderful! Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best climbing areas in the USA. Its area is not large – the park is located on a small section of the huge chain of the Rocky Mountains, in the state of Colorado, near Denver.

About 3 million tourists visit the protected land every year. Many of them are limited to a trip along one of the local highways, but in order to get the most complete picture of the beauty of the national park, you need to explore as many amazingly beautiful mountain serpentines as possible. Moreover, the local infrastructure contributes to this. The ability to rent a car with Firefly and well-maintained roads is the key to a successful trip to the Rockies.

Of course, any road trip is fraught with dangers, especially if it is a trip to the mountains. Roads in mountainous areas are characterized by a large number of prolonged ascents and descents, sharp bends of small radius in variable directions with extremely limited visibility, and a narrow carriageway with rocky or clay-covered road pavement.

Therefore, you need to be careful on the road, and check out several very useful tips – then the road trip will bring only positive emotions and memories!

  1. Check your health

It’s recommended to go to the Rocky Mountains only if you feel good, having a good sleep before the trip. After all, when climbing to an altitude of 1,500-2,000 meters above sea level, you can feel that according to nature, the barometric pressure is low there. In addition, in a short time you will have to cross several climatic zones.

Also, reducing atmospheric pressure will be not indifferent to your car: filling the engine cylinders with a combustible mixture will deteriorate. As a result, it will be a decrease in engine power and deterioration in the action of the brake drive with corresponding consequences.

By the way, the formation of clouds, fog and precipitation is typical for such heights, and the difference in air temperature at different heights contributes to the appearance of wind, which affects the stability of the car. All this must be taken into consideration when traveling to the Rocky Mountains.

  1. Use engine braking

The most important thing to learn when driving on the roads of Rocky Mountains is to use engine braking as actively as possible, switching to lower gears. Of course, brakes should be applied, but only as an addition to engine braking.

Never forget an important rule: a car moving uphill has the advantage. On a descent from a hill having an approximately equal angle to the ascent, it’s recommended that you move in the same gear as when climbing. When choosing a distance to the car in front, don’t forget to take into account the descent angle – the steeper the descent, the correspondingly greater the distance.

  1. Avoid coasting downhill

In the mountains, you must completely forget about the very bad habit of driving downhill with the clutch or ignition off, and also with the neutral position of the gear lever.

What are your risks? When moving in neutral gear, you have to adjust the speed only with the brake pedal, and this leads to increased wear of the brake linings. If you apply such braking on mountain roads, then you’ll have a very high probability of overheating of the brake mechanism, which will cause a complete loss of brakes and the car.


  1. Try to move uphill without shifting gears

When moving uphill, it’s necessary to switch to low gear before starting it so that you can go through the entire climb without shifting gears. Shifting gears on the ascent is undesirable and dangerous, especially for less experienced drivers or those who are used to an automatic transmission.

Steep, protracted climbs are the safest to drive alone. Therefore, if possible, we advise you not to rush, and wait until the car ahead of you overcome the uphill section, and then start moving.

  1. Take advantage of special gloves for driving

Very often in the mountains there are S-shaped turns. The rotation angle can reach 180 degrees, that is, after passing two turns, you will change the direction of movement to the opposite and again return to the original.

The passage of such turns is considered to be the most difficult, and you’ll have to turn the steering wheel more actively. Get prepared to rotate the steering wheel with intercepts and always stick to this technique. In this case, gloves guarantee that sweaty hands won’t slip off the steering wheel at the most crucial moment.

  1. Make stops to relax

On mountain roads quite often you’ll see platforms for rest – small extensions where you can relax, and take a breath.

Don’t neglect this opportunity, since even an experienced driver is not worth overworking on a car in mountainous conditions. Most importantly, don’t overestimate your professional qualities and capabilities in the Rocky Mountains – they don’t forgive this.

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