Uber Driver’s Guide to Denver

Uber drivers in Denver must be creative, know when to drive, and possibly supplement with other income if they rely on this for full-time income.

Uber drivers can quickly burn out in Denver because most rides require grueling traffic and low pay. But, having patience and finding the higher paying rides for a longer distance can pay off.

Here’s what you must know about driving for Uber in Denver.

Driving for Uber in Denver

Driving for Uber in Denver requires patience and knowledge of the area to reach your income goals. Fortunately, it’s easy to become an Uber driver in Denver as long as you have three years of driving experience under 25 or one year over 25.

The Denver Uber vehicle requirements are the same as most other states, and you can drive for UberX or Black if you have the proper vehicles.

Denver Uber Driver Tips & Strategies

Knowing the best strategies to make the most money driving for Uber in Denver is crucial, or you could waste time making next to nothing.

1. Look for Weekends With Multiple Events

One large event usually doesn’t increase Uber drivers’ earnings much in Denver. Instead, focus your time on the weekends where three or more large events are happening or areas with outdoor festivals and smaller gatherings with surge pay.

2. Don’t Focus on the Surge Map

Automatically taking rides in the ‘red’ on the Uber map isn’t effective any longer. See my example below. They both have surge pricing, but the ride with the $3.25 surge pricing isn’t worth it, while the ride with the $1.75 surge pricing is well worth it.

uber x driver payuber x pay screenshot

3. Don’t Focus On Downtown

Many Uber drivers assume downtown is where they’ll make the most money. It makes sense since this is where most people are; however, that leaves hundreds or more stranded without rides in the suburbs.

Instead of sitting downtown with possibly hundreds of other drivers, stick to the suburbs and take the shorter but higher-paying routes that no one else is available to take.

You’ll save yourself the headache of fighting for rides and avoid the ‘donut’ phenomenon surrounding the downtown area with drivers, and leaving the suburbs empty with plenty of requests waiting for them.

You won’t have to fight traffic or be stuck with one ride to an event. You’ll likely take smaller trips, such as work commutes, shopping errands, or driving people to pick up their cars from the repair shop and make more money.

The exception to the rules is if you’re a night owl. If you like late-night rides, sit downtown when the events end. Event-goers will need a ride home while the people in the suburbs are fast asleep.

As you can see in the image below, surges surround the downtown area in the mid-afternoon because people in the suburbs need rides.


4. Avoid Rush Hour

Rush hour traffic in Denver is gridlocked. Morning and evening commutes during the week can take double the necessary time. Friday afternoons are even worse, as that’s when most people arrive and depart from Denver.

If you drive during those times, stick to the suburbs and avoid major highways. During all other times, though, take advantage of suburb-to-downtown trips.

Don’t focus on the mileage but on the time the trip will take. Many trips with long mileage don’t take as long as you’d think because they’re just minutes off the highway. But shorter trips with limited routes and congested streets can take longer and pay less.

Get to know the map and which trips make the most of your time.

get to know your map in denver

This map depicts the light traffic at night. Trips to Northglenn or Broomfield don’t take as long as most people think, especially when the highways are empty. However, areas surrounding Glendale take much longer because there isn’t easy highway access.

5. Be Careful on Holidays

Denver has a lot of transplants, aka people that came from somewhere else. These people often leave during the holidays, making it less than profitable to drive for Uber during these times.

There’s no rhyme or reason, so you have to get a feel for each holiday as they approach. Thanksgiving week is typically dead for Uber drivers, even if large events occur. With most people traveling away from Denver, there isn’t a large ride demand.

If you want a clue about the upcoming traffic, check Gridwise for airport traffic to see how many passengers are coming versus going.


6. Be Willing To Take Long Rides

Don’t assume the longer rides aren’t worth it. Sometimes, the shorter rides around downtown only pay $5, requiring you to take multiple short rides to equal the pay for one or two longer rides.

The key is knowing when the longer rides are worth it. Usually, the better offers come when demand is at its highest. This is when it makes sense to take the long rides and forgo the grueling shorter trips that could take longer due to heavy traffic.

I even ignore quest offers encouraging drivers to take shorter drives to earn a bonus. If I have to take 50 rides in a weekend to reach my quest and make $120, I’ll be stressed out and hurried. I only take rides that normally don’t pay enough, in my opinion.

Instead, I could take three longer rides that pay $40 each and reach the same goal without unnecessary stress.

Perfecting your timing for this method takes some practice and surge map studying. If you chase the surges, you’ll waste time and money. Instead, wait for the late-night peak pay rides at 2 to 2:15 AM and take the trips out of town, paying much higher rates, sometimes as much as $1 a minute.

Denver Uber Driver Hotspots

Knowing the hotspots in Denver can help you make the most of your time driving for Uber.

  • Coors Field before and after baseball games
  • Downtown, if you time it right, late at night, your clientele will be mostly drunk passengers.
  • Empower Field at Mile High, but you must time it right; arriving before the event ends results in gridlock. Arrive slightly after the event ends, grab the stragglers, and avoid the traffic.
  • Ball Arena is home to the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and many concerts, but it gets very crowded; consider dropping passengers off ½ block from the venue to avoid getting stuck.
  • Boulder is a university city with short trips and high tips, but it fills up with drivers quickly.
  • Western suburbs are busier, and eastern suburbs are less consistent, but you can usually pick up a ride from one of the malls or larger hotels to get back to the city.

Best Times To Drive for Uber in Denver

Where you drive is more important than when you drive, but focusing on these times will help increase your Uber earnings. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find the best times are the weekends, but weekdays have peak times too.


  • Fridays are a little different in Denver. You may catch some early morning flight rides between 4:30 AM and 8 AM. Otherwise, there isn’t much going on at this time.
  • There is usually a surge from 2 PM to 6 PM, but traffic is also the highest. Find routes that avoid the traffic to take advantage of the surge pricing to make it worth it.
  • Your best time on Fridays is 9 PM to 2 AM when the nightlife kicks up, and people need rides home.
  • Consider a break from 6 PM to 9 PM as it’s usually not worth it.


  • Fridays are slow by 9 PM, whereas Saturdays stay busy almost all night.
  • You can’t go wrong driving from 4 PM to 2 AM on Saturdays, and there is a steady run of overnight trips from drunk people who can’t drive.
  • Consider starting later on Saturdays to take advantage of the later peak hours.


  • Sundays are the most unpredictable. There are more requests during the tourist season, usually from June to August.
  • Also, if events are going on, requests increase.
  • This is usually the day that longer rides pay the most, which won’t help you complete your weekend quests but may pay better.

Mondays to Thursdays

  • Weekdays are similar to Fridays but a little slower.
  • If there are three or more large events at a venue, it will create weekend-like surges, but the rides end by midnight rather than carrying over into the next day.

How Much Do Uber Drivers Make in Denver?

I am an experienced Uber driver who understands the surge patterns and where to drive to avoid traffic. Because of this, I can consistently make $40 an hour, especially in the summer. But this requires me to consistently work weekends in the afternoon and night.

I make the most in the summer months and have to get creative in the other months to keep my hourly pay where I want it.

New drivers, or those who don’t get to understand the patterns well, should expect to make closer to $20 an hour. This could be a problem because the cost of living is increasing exponentially in Denver, so most Uber drivers have to drive quite a distance to get to the areas with higher demand.

how much do uber drivers make in denver

Alternatives To Driving for Uber in Denver

If you aren’t making enough money driving for Uber in Denver, you can double up and drive/work for other gig apps to reach your goal hourly rate.

Is Driving for Uber in Denver Worth It?

Personally, I quit my teaching job one year ago and drove for Uber full-time. I won’t continue this through the winter months because it’s too grueling without enough pay. However, some drivers work for Uber full-time, accepting the quiet times and working hard during peak hours. But you must be willing to work through terrible snow storms, knowing how to handle the roads safely.

To make $1,600 to $2,000 a week, you must plan your life around the surges, which isn’t feasible for most people because it affects your sleep schedule and personal life.

The best case scenario is to drive for Uber in Denver part-time, focusing on busy times. Work those shifts hard and combine them with other income so you don’t burn out and regret your decision to drive for Uber.