Snow Removal

ALL CLEAR: No snow in the forecast.

Snow Removal: How We Respond

Emergency snow response services fall within the purview of Denver's Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DOTI). Our workforce takes pride in performing snow removal services in an efficient, effective and fiscally responsible manner, with a response plan that is proven and economical for normal winter weather conditions in Denver.

Goals of the snow response plan include improving the safety and mobility of our transportation system by plowing city streets as efficiently as possible, keeping priority streets passable, and minimizing traffic disruption.

Our Process


DOTI utilizes several public and private weather forecast services to determine when its response will begin for each storm and its deployment levels. When a significant chance of snow is forecasted with anticipated accumulation in the Denver area, DOTI readies its snow equipment and staff. The number of employees alerted depends upon the anticipated magnitude of the predicted storm. 

Denver’s overall strategy is to respond to most major snowstorms with the full deployment of snow response staff and equipment and ratchet down operations as conditions improve. However, if initial forecasts only call for isolated flurries or snow showers and limited accumulation, other deployment alternatives are considered including a partial deployment of the fleet and/or placing crews on standby.


Plowing and Treatment of Denver’s Main Streets 

DOTI provides snow response services to approximately 2,050 lane miles of main streets, or most streets with stripes, utilizing a fleet of 70 large plows, and plows around schools to provide safe zones for school children.

Denver uses liquid and solid deicers on its main streets as part of its snow response. The solid deicer, called Ice Slicer, is a naturally-mined product from Utah that is more than 90-percent chloride salts. Its red color comes from 60 trace minerals also naturally found in the deicer. The product helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement and can serve to provide some traction on the roadways during snow events. 

In the downtown area, Denver uses a liquid deicer called liquid magnesium chloride. The liquid is used downtown instead of a dry material to reduce levels of particulate matter in the air and support the city’s air quality efforts.

Denver may apply liquid deicer to main streets before a storm to try to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement. This practice of anti-icing the roads, sometimes referred to as “pre-treating,” is rare in Denver, as weather conditions and pavement temperatures have to be just right for pre-treating to be effective. Pre-treated roads also need to dry before temperatures drop below freezing or icing could occur.

Plowing of Denver’s Residential Streets

Denver’s Residential Snow Plow Program was created during the blizzards of 2006-07 to keep residential streets, or side streets, passable. The program covers about 1,260 center lane miles of residential streets, utilizing a fleet of 4x4 pickup trucks with plows.

DOTI will deploy the residential plows when enough snow has fallen and the small plows can be helpful in clearing a path for motorists to get to the main streets. The small trucks do not carry de-icing materials.

What to Expect:

  • Plowing of the residential streets will occur between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • When deployed, the residential plows will take one pass down the center of every side street to prevent deep ice rutting and to keep the streets passable.
  • The residential plows shave off the top few inches of snow pack and will not expose bare pavement.
  • The residential areas will not receive de-icing materials.

Resources Utilized:

  • 4x4 pickup trucks with plows from DOTI and Denver Parks & Recreation

Bike Lanes

  • On-Street Bike Lanes: Most of Denver's on-street bicycle lanes are located on roadways with stripes; these are the streets that are routinely plowed every time snow accumulates. Crews will make every effort to plow through the bike lane to the curb whenever possible; however, during swift, heavy snowfalls, bike lanes may become snow packed. These snowy/icy conditions may linger in the bike lane several days after a storm depending on temperatures, particularly in shady locations. Report problem areas online at or call 311.
  • Throughout the winter season, people on bikes should be prepared to ride in a shared lane condition, utilizing the outermost lane available and may consider alternate transportation options based on health, ability, weather conditions and equipment. People on bikes may need to consider alternate routes and utilize the city’s trail system. People are also encouraged to winterize their bikes and have the right tires for navigating winter conditions.
  • Protected Bikeways: DOTI plows the city’s protected bikeways and many pedestrian bridges. Denver uses a smaller plow for the protected bikeways that has a broom attached, as well as a material spreader that can drop liquid deicing material as appropriate, based on weather conditions. Our snow program aims to address each protected bikeway at least once every 24 hours.
  • Off-Street Bike Trails: Denver Parks and Recreation maintains the City’s network of off-street bicycle and multi-use trails. Any snow accumulation on a trail greater than one inch will be plowed to the channel side (or down slope side) within 12 hours after the end of a snow fall event. Snow that can’t be accessed by machine will be removed manually. Ice accumulation on the trail will be treated with gravel and/or environmentally safe chemical products.

City Owned Property

Denver Parks & Recreation performs snow removal on park property and select sidewalks, such as bridges and underpasses within the City. During normal snowfall, the snow will be removed as usual, including around recreation centers. Recreation Centers will also be plowed and shoveled for Saturday and Sunday hours as needed.

When Plowing Operations Result in Snow on Sidewalks

While pushing snow onto sidewalks by our plows doesn’t happen very often, we are truly sorry when it does. We all know how critical it is that our streets are cleared of snow for safety and accessibility purposes, and that is the top priority of Denver’s heavy snow plows. Pushing snow onto sidewalks and driveways is an unfortunate consequence of plowing any street. We ask drivers to be conscientious and provide our drivers with continual feedback on their performance and ways to minimize the occurrence of snow on sidewalks.

During and After Storms


Denver requires that property owners clear snow and ice from their sidewalks, including adjacent ADA ramps and bus stops, so that EVERYONE has safe access throughout the city! Senior citizens, people with disabilities, parents with strollers, and mail carriers — just to name a few — struggle to negotiate hazardous walkways. We need to do our part to make our community safe and accessible for all.

Timing: After snow has stopped falling, businesses need to begin clearing their sidewalks immediately. Residences need to clear their sidewalks by the next day.

Inspectors leave a time-stamped notice at properties with un-shoveled sidewalks. After receiving a notice, businesses have four hours and residences have 24 hours before the inspector’s re-check and a potential $150 fine.

Reporting Problems: If it has been more than 24 hours after a snow event and sidewalks near you are still not shoveled, please contact Denver 311 to provide the address of the unshoveled sidewalk.

Tips: For how to properly shovel snow, please visit Denver Health's Snow Removal Injury Prevention

Denver's Snow Angel Program

Icing in the Curb and Gutter

There are many locations throughout Denver where snow and ice accumulates in the gutters when daytime warming melts the snow and the water freezes at night.  This problem is most common on the south side of east-west streets, but can also occur anytime that the gutter or street is shaded by structures, tall vegetation, trees or fences.

The frequently asked questions (FAQs) below have been developed in order to help residents understand the City and County of Denver’s policies and practices regarding snow and ice removal, the causes of ice accumulation, suggestions for prevention and possible solutions, and contacts to have the problem addressed. 

How to report ice complaints and request large amounts of ice to be removed by Street Maintenance staff

Call 311
Within Denver: dial 3-1-1
Outside Denver: call 720-913-1311
TTY: 720-913-8479

Monday through Friday - 7am to 8pm
Saturday and Sunday - 8am to 5pm

Report an Issue Online

Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn't Denver plow ALL the streets after snowstorms to prevent snow and ice build-up?

Main streets, or most streets with stripes, are the priority for the Department’s fleet of heavy plows. These are the streets that carry most of the city’s traffic as well as emergency vehicles and public transportation. Denver also plows around schools to provide safe zones for children. For each snow event, the number of plows deployed and use of de-icing materials depends on weather conditions.

Residential plows will also deploy when enough snow has fallen and they can be helpful in clearing a path for motorists to get to the main streets. The small trucks do not carry de-icing materials. The residential plows take a single swipe down the middle of each side street; they do not bring the street to bare pavement, but improve drivability.

Why does the ice form and accumulate in the gutter?

Unlike the Midwest and East Coast, Denver’s climate provides 300 days of sunshine each year. It is not uncommon for daytime temperatures to reach into the upper 30s and 40s and higher following a snowstorm, causing the snow to melt quickly. The snowmelt runs down the gutter in the street until it is collected by a storm drain inlet or catch-basin (the opening in the curb) that connects to the underground storm drain beneath the street. 

Occasionally, Denver will experience an extended cold-spell or period where daytime temperatures are neither sufficient nor lengthy enough to entirely melt the snow. When snow in the gutter partially melts, then freezes at night or in the shadow of trees or structures before reaching a storm drain inlet, icing occurs. Shaded areas are particularly problematic, as pavement temperatures in shaded areas have been found to be about 20 degrees colder than areas exposed to the sun. Thus, repeated partial daytime warming and night-time freezing results in the accumulation of ice in the gutter.

There are many locations throughout Denver where snow and ice accumulates in the gutters.  It is most common on the south side of east-west streets, but can also occur anytime that the gutter or street is shaded by structures, tall vegetation, trees or fences.

In areas where there is no tree-lawn between the curb and the sidewalk, the sidewalk is attached to the curb and gutter. Under prolonged night-time freezing conditions, the ice may eventually accumulate to the top of the curb and onto the adjacent sidewalk.

I have called the city in the past and they have removed the ice, but the ice has returned.  Why haven't the crews come back?

Each location is unique.  Some areas require infrequent ice removal, while other areas require more.

Thus far, we have found it is more cost-effective to address these situations on a case-by-case basis, and you will need to call each time the ice reaches an unsafe level.

Why doesn't the city build a storm drain to prevent ice from forming?

Storm drains are constructed based on criteria established to provide a standard level of flood protection during summer storms. In many cases, we have found that constructing storm drains and inlets are ineffective for solving icing problems.  Icing problems can prevail, regardless of the proximity of drainage inlets and storm sewers in areas of ice and snow build-up.

The City and County of Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure's Engineering Division reviews many of the repetitive complaint locations received by Street Maintenance Division on a case-by-case basis in order to determine if there are other cost-effective practical alternatives that would reduce the amount of ice accumulation.  When such alternatives are available, they may be implemented based on priority and available funding. 

In some situations, a storm drainage improvement may be planned for the area based on the City’s level of service for summer storm drainage.  Once the project is funded and in design, our designers will, to the extent practicable, specify inlet locations to collect the summer storm runoff as well as collect winter daytime snowmelt before it enters a shaded location to reduce the amount of ice accumulation.  When this is possible, it will help to reduce, but will not eliminate, the amount of ice accumulation.   

In shaded areas it is not uncommon to see storm drain inlets between the patches of ice. In this case, the inlets are not effective in solving icing problems.

Sunken Curb & Gutter Sections

In other situations, icing in the winter occurs at the same location that there is a constant puddle of water in the summer due to sunken curb and gutter sections. These are reviewed for remediation by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure's curb and gutter program based on priorities and available funding. If you notice that the curb and gutter in front of your home or business is sunk, precluding proper positive drainage, you may contact 3-1-1 to begin an investigation.

If a storm drain won't solve the problem, what can be done?

An effective proactive solution that property owners can implement is to apply de-icing materials to problem areas in advance of forecasted snowstorms. Placing de-icing materials on pavement before a storm makes snow and ice accumulation less likely and removal much easier. Some residents have found that also placing additional de-icer on the pavement after snow removal has been found to make subsequent ice accumulation from daytime melting less likely.

We also recommend that businesses and residents not push snow into the streets, where it can exacerbate ice formation in shaded areas. Instead, place the removed snow on lawn areas where available, or move it to a sunny location where it can melt; as long as doing so does not create other safety hazards.

What will the City and County of Denver do to remedy this situation?

The only system in place at the present time is our service-request system. Please contact 3-1-1 and request "ice blading."

Icing in Bike Lanes

Icing in Bike Lanes

Bike lanes that are on-street and NOT protected: Ice reported in these types of bike lanes are treated as ice complaints. Street Maintenance will send a crew with larger equipment to blade the ice on unprotected/on-street bike lanes.

Protected Bikeways: Street Maintenance will send a crew to address it as soon as they can. The crew will drop down more deicer on the protected bikeway, as needed or appropriate, and run their smaller plow over the snowy/icy area.

Report issues online or call 311 to report problem areas.

Bikes: Tips for Riding in the Snow

Bikes: Tips for Riding in the Snow

Bicycling in snow conditions can be challenging, so having yourself and your bicycle prepared for the weather is critical. After checking the local weather, decide if your bicycling skill set matches the daily weather forecast.

  • Tire Type - The more tread on your tires the better. A mountain bike is the ideal bicycle for snow conditions. You may want to consider the addition of fenders upon your bicycle to avoid dirt and debris on yourself as the snow begins to soften.
  • Air - Let a little air out of your tires to give you more surface area on the snowy pavement.
  • Position - Lower your saddle so you can quickly put your foot down to avoid falling in slippery conditions.
  • Braking - As in all slippery conditions (such as very wet roads), brake early and in a straight line. You can also apply the back brake (lightly) to test the amount of adhesion you have.
  • Apparel - Dress in layers and wear a moisture-resistant outer shell. Warm gloves and shoe coverings are also recommended; once your outer extremities become wet and cold, riding will become very uncomfortable.
  • Bike Maintenance – Regular rides in snow conditions can have a negative impact upon your bicycle and its components. Snow and ice can accumulate within the frame, forks, brakes and the front and rear derailleur. This accumulation could impede your ride and damage components unless you regularly remove the excess material. Please consider cleaning your chain after every ride. A chain cleaner, rag and an old toothbrush are all you need. Clean it thoroughly and apply additional lubrication with a chain lube designed for wet/dirty climates. Wipe down your brakes after riding in snow to make sure the contact surfaces with the wheels are clean.

Managing Trees and Branches

Removing Snow from Trees

  • Check to make sure the tree is safe and clear of all utility lines prior to removing snow. If the tree is clear of utility lines, using a broom, remove as much snow as possible from branches.
  • Do not attempt to climb tree or use ladder to reach higher limbs

Broken Branches & Downed Trees

Cleanup of debris: Property owners are responsible for the cleanup of debris from trees on private property and from trees within the public right of way adjacent to their property.

  • For trees on private property, citizens can visit for a list of licensed and insured tree care contractors. It’s a wise practice to make sure any tree care contractor is licensed and insured.
  • If emergency removal of a fallen branch is needed to clear a street, the city can assist though an established on-call contract; however, the cost of the work will be billed to the responsible property owner. Call 311 (720-913-1311) if you have questions.
  • If you have general questions about the condition of a public-right-of way tree, contact Denver Forestry at


Residents participating in the Denver Composts program can put branches (no longer than 4 feet in length or larger than 4 inches in diameter) in their green carts for composting. 

Drop off tree debris for composting

NOTE: The Cherry Creek Recycling Center at Cherry Creek South Drive and Quebec Street is temporarily closed for construction.

To assist customers with composting branches downed during the March 14, 2024 storm, DOTI has stood up a temporary branch drop-off site at Denver's Central Platte Campus at 1271 W. Bayaud Ave. Directions: Enter through the campus gates at W. Bayaud Ave. and S. Navajo St., drive past the Denver Animal Shelter and place branches in the roll-off dumpsters on your right in front of Building 2.

The temporary branch drop-off site will be open Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 19 - Saturday, April 6.

  • Denver residents only.
  • No contractors, hitched trailers, or box trucks.
  • No branches longer than 4 feet in length or larger than 4 inches in diameter.
  • No pieces or bundles weighing more than 50 pounds.
  • No other waste accepted.
  • Maximum of 10 branch bundles per week.


Set out branches and yard debris for removal by grouping loose branches in bundles no longer than 4 feet in length and in bundles weighing no more than 50 pounds.

  • No branches may exceed 4 inches in diameter.
  • A maximum of 10 bundles per household will be collected per scheduled Extra Trash service collection (every 4 weeks).
  • Do not place branches in your city issued black trash cart.
  • Put the branch bundles at least 2 feet away from any service carts when setting bundles out for collection.
  • Look for addition information in our Trash Collection FAQ

Residents are responsible for the removal and disposal of tree stumps and all branches over 4 inches in diameter and/or 4 feet in length. There are a number of licensed haulers that are available to residents to hire for removal of this material.