If you’re planning a scenic road trip to the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado, knowing the drive time will help you plan your schedule and route. The total drive time can vary substantially depending on your starting point and route taken.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: For most starting points, the drive to Denver takes between 10-15 hours total. From Chicago, expect around 14 hours of drive time. From Dallas, it takes around 11 hours and from Salt Lake City, around 7 hours.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll provide a detailed breakdown of drive times from popular destinations along with route recommendations. You’ll learn how to plan your ideal road trip itinerary with tips for restaurants, lodging, and can’t miss attractions along the way. Whether coming from the east or west, use this as your guide for how long it really takes to drive to Denver, Colorado.
Drive Times to Denver from Major Cities
14 Hours from Chicago
If you’re planning a road trip from Chicago to Denver, get ready for a scenic drive that will take you approximately 14 hours. The route will take you through the heartland of America, passing through states like Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and finally, Colorado.
Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the beauty of the Great Plains, the rolling hills, and the charming small towns that dot the landscape. Make sure to plan your stops accordingly to enjoy the journey and break up the drive.
11 Hours from Dallas
For those traveling from Dallas, Texas to Denver, Colorado, the road trip will take approximately 11 hours. This route will take you through the states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas before reaching the beautiful scenery of Colorado.
From open prairies to vast farmlands, you’ll experience the diverse landscapes of the Midwest on your way to the Rocky Mountains. Don’t forget to pack some snacks and make a playlist to keep you entertained during the drive.
18 Hours from New York City
If you’re embarking on a road trip from the bustling streets of New York City to the picturesque landscapes of Denver, be prepared for a longer journey. The drive will take approximately 18 hours, taking you through states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and finally, Colorado.
Along the way, you’ll witness the changing landscapes as you leave behind the cityscape and venture into the heartland of America. Take breaks at interesting landmarks along the way to make the most of your trip.
7 Hours from Salt Lake City
For those starting their road trip from Salt Lake City, Utah, the drive to Denver will take approximately 7 hours. This relatively short drive will take you through the scenic landscapes of Utah and the western part of Colorado.
As you drive through the stunning Rocky Mountains, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks and lush forests. Don’t forget to stop at some of the picturesque mountain towns along the way, such as Vail or Breckenridge.
The Best Routes to Take for a Scenic Drive
I-80 W from the Midwest
If you are traveling from the Midwest, one of the best routes to take for a scenic drive to Denver is I-80 West. This route offers breathtaking views of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. As you drive through states like Nebraska and Wyoming, you’ll be treated to vast open landscapes, rolling hills, and picturesque mountain ranges.
Don’t forget to make a stop at the iconic Cheyenne, Wyoming, known for its rich western history and annual rodeo event.
I-70 W from East Coast and South
For travelers coming from the East Coast or South, I-70 West is the ideal route for a scenic road trip to Denver. This route takes you through stunning landscapes, including the picturesque Appalachian Mountains and the beautiful state of Colorado.
As you drive through the Rocky Mountains, you’ll be amazed by the towering peaks, lush forests, and crystal-clear lakes. Make sure to plan a stop at Vail, a charming mountain town known for its world-class ski resorts and outdoor activities.
I-25 N from the South
If you are driving from the southern states, I-25 North is a fantastic route to take for a scenic drive to Denver. This route allows you to experience the beauty of the Southwest and the majestic landscapes of New Mexico and Colorado.
As you travel through the high desert and canyons, you’ll be captivated by the unique rock formations and vibrant colors. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico, famous for its art galleries, historic architecture, and vibrant cultural scene.
Alternate Scenic Routes
While the Interstate highways offer convenience and efficiency, there are also several alternate scenic routes that you can take for a more adventurous road trip to Denver. One option is taking US-50, also known as the “Loneliest Road in America,” which runs through stunning landscapes and small towns.
Another option is taking the scenic Colorado State Highway 9, which offers breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains and passes through charming mountain towns like Breckenridge and Frisco.
No matter which route you choose, a road trip to Denver, Colorado, is an incredible opportunity to witness the beauty of the American landscape. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!
Road Trip Itinerary and Where to Stop Along the Way
Day 1 and 2 Stops from the East/Midwest
If you are embarking on a road trip to Denver, Colorado from the East or Midwest, you will have the opportunity to experience some incredible sights along the way. As you make your way west, consider stopping in cities such as Kansas City, Missouri for its famous barbecue and vibrant music scene.
Don’t miss out on exploring the historic Union Station and taking a stroll through the beautiful Country Club Plaza.
Continuing your journey, you can make a stop in the charming city of Omaha, Nebraska. Enjoy the scenic views of the Missouri River and visit the renowned Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, known for its diverse range of exhibits and interactive experiences.
As you approach the Colorado border, make a pit stop in Fort Collins, named one of the best places to live in the United States. Explore the city’s vibrant downtown area, home to numerous breweries and restaurants offering delicious local cuisine.
Day 1 Stops from the South
If you are driving to Denver, Colorado from the southern states, there are several exciting stops you can make along the way. Starting your journey in Albuquerque, New Mexico, take some time to explore the city’s rich culture, art galleries, and delicious Southwestern cuisine.
Don’t forget to visit the iconic Old Town Albuquerque and take a ride on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway for breathtaking views of the city.
Continuing north, you can make a stop in Colorado Springs, Colorado, known for its stunning natural landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities. Visit the famous Garden of the Gods, a unique geological formation with towering red rock formations.
For adrenaline junkies, a visit to the Manitou Incline, a challenging hiking trail with breathtaking views, is a must.
As you approach Denver, make a final stop in the charming town of Golden, Colorado. Home to the Coors Brewery, take a tour and learn about the history of brewing in the area. Enjoy a stroll along Clear Creek and explore the quaint downtown area before heading to your final destination.
Attractions and Sightseeing Highlights
Once you arrive in Denver, Colorado, you will be greeted with a plethora of attractions and sightseeing opportunities. Explore the vibrant downtown area, known for its lively arts scene, trendy restaurants, and shopping districts.
Take a walk along the picturesque 16th Street Mall and visit the Denver Art Museum, which houses an impressive collection of art from around the world.
For outdoor enthusiasts, a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park is a must. With over 415 square miles of breathtaking landscapes, including snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows, and crystal-clear lakes, the park offers endless opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and scenic drives.
Don’t miss out on visiting Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, known for its stunning natural rock formations and iconic outdoor concert venue. Take a hike along the trails and witness breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
Plan your road trip itinerary carefully and make sure to include these exciting stops and attractions along the way. Whether you are coming from the East, Midwest, or South, the journey to Denver, Colorado will be filled with unforgettable experiences and beautiful landscapes.
Preparing for Your Drive to Denver
Get Your Vehicle Serviced First
Before embarking on your road trip to Denver, it’s crucial to ensure that your vehicle is in optimal condition. Schedule a maintenance check-up with a trusted mechanic to address any potential issues and ensure a smooth journey.
This includes checking the tire pressure, oil levels, brakes, and overall engine performance. Remember, a well-maintained vehicle is not only safer but also more fuel-efficient, saving you money in the long run.
Pack Properly for Comfort and Safety
When packing for your road trip to Denver, it’s important to strike a balance between comfort and safety. Make sure to pack essential items such as a first aid kit, snacks, water, and a roadside emergency kit.
Additionally, don’t forget to bring comfortable clothing and pillows to make the long drive more enjoyable. It’s also a good idea to pack a map or use a navigation system to stay on track and avoid getting lost in unfamiliar areas.
Time Your Drive to Avoid Heavy Traffic
Timing your drive to Denver can make a significant difference in your overall travel experience. To avoid heavy traffic, consider planning your journey during off-peak hours, such as early mornings or late evenings. This can help you avoid congestion and make your drive more pleasant.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to check traffic conditions and road closures before you hit the road. Websites like cotrip.org provide real-time traffic updates and road conditions to help you plan your route accordingly.
Tips for an Enjoyable Drive to Denver
Allow Plenty of Time to Account for Delays
When embarking on a road trip to Denver, it’s important to factor in potential delays along the way. Traffic congestion, road construction, and unforeseen circumstances can all impact your travel time. To avoid feeling rushed and stressed, allow for extra time in your itinerary.
According to a study by the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average travel time from major cities to Denver is approximately X hours. It’s better to have extra time to spare than to be pressed for time and risk missing out on the beautiful sights and attractions along the way.
Take Breaks to Stretch and Stay Alert
Long drives can be tiring, so it’s essential to take regular breaks to stretch your legs and stay alert. Research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation suggests that taking a break every two hours can help prevent fatigue and improve driver performance. Look for rest areas or scenic spots along your route where you can take a short walk, do some stretching exercises, or simply enjoy the fresh air.
Additionally, staying hydrated and having healthy snacks on hand can help keep your energy levels up during the journey.
Share Driving Duties with a Partner
If you’re traveling with a companion, consider sharing the driving duties. This not only allows each person to take turns resting but also helps keep both drivers engaged and alert. Studies have shown that driver fatigue is a significant factor in accidents, and sharing the driving responsibilities can reduce the risk of drowsy driving. Make sure to communicate and plan ahead to ensure a smooth transition between drivers and maximize safety on the road.
Try Planning Your Trip in the Spring/Fall
Timing your road trip to Denver can make a difference in the overall enjoyment of your journey. While Denver experiences all four seasons, the spring and fall months offer milder weather and fewer crowds compared to the peak summer and winter seasons.
According to historical weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average temperature in Denver during the spring/fall months ranges from X to X degrees Fahrenheit, making it a pleasant time to explore the city and its surroundings. Consider planning your trip during these seasons to take advantage of pleasant weather conditions and potentially shorter travel times.
By following these tips, your drive to Denver can be an enjoyable and memorable experience. Remember to plan ahead, take breaks, share the driving responsibilities, and consider timing your trip for optimal weather conditions. Safe travels!
The drive to Denver can take between 10-15 hours depending on your starting point and route. Give yourself plenty of time to take in scenic views and attractions along the way. Follow our tips for planning your ideal itinerary, choosing the best route, and staying comfortable and alert on the drive. Your road trip to the Mile High City will be an unforgettable adventure!