238 Fawn Drive, Aspen, CO, USA
Independence Pass Aspen Reviews
Highest paved pass in Colorado Apr 21, 2010
Independence pass is a high mountain pass that traverses the continental divide in the Sawatch Range. The pass connects the mountain towns of Leadville and Aspen. Independence is not the highest paved road, but it is the highest paved pass. At 12,103 feet, the top of the pass is well above tree line and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountain range.
The drive over Independence is spectacular. It is a great option for people wanting some adventurous high country driving, but hoping to skip treacherous 4 wheel drive roads. Highway 82 is paved all the way up and over the pass, which makes for an easy drive. The road is narrow, and each approach is approximately a 6.5% grade. Switchbacks are relatively tight, but truckers and large vehicles can make it up and over. If you are a slow vehicle stay to the right and pull off whenever possible to allow traffic to pass.
At the top of the pass there is a continental divide sign that is a perfect photo opportunity. There are a lot of hiking trailheads and waterfalls at the top as well. Independence ghost town is also accessible at the top of the pass.
The pass is closed in winter, from the first heavy snow fall, usually through late spring in May.
Independence Pass is a great ride in the summer months, but it is truly spectacular in autumn when the aspens are changing. The ride down into Aspen is one of the best in the state. Drive safe and take extra caution in the early spring and late fall. Warm weather in Leadville and Aspen doesn't mean clear skies at the top of the pass. Huge snow banks linger into the summer and blizzard conditions can happen in the blink of an eye in the late fall. Summer months can also result in electrical storms and torrential rain if you are on the pass in the early afternoon. Like any high mountain area in Colorado caution is always recommended.
Enjoy the views and don't forget your camera!
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