Independence Pass

Independence Pass

Independence Pass, part of Colorado State Highway 82, passes over the Continental Divide between Leadville and Aspen, Colorado. In addition to being a scenic byway, Independence Pass, just east of Aspen, is a favorite recreation location during the summer months.

At 12,095ft at the summit, Independence Pass is the highest paved pass in the state. Depending on snow accumulation, the Colorado Department of Transportation closes the highway at the Winter Gate, 5 miles east of Aspen. Visit cotrip.org for up-to-date road closure information. Do not rely on your GPS for directions if the pass is closed. 

Biking Independence Pass

Road biking on Independence Pass/Highway 82 is a popular route in the summer. The road climbs to the continental divide at the top of the Pass (12,095 ft.). The road is open to traffic and is extremely narrow in some sections. Be alert to all car traffic, which is especially heavy on summer weekends. From Aspen to the peak of the pass is about 20 miles, but riders can turn around at any point and return to town.

Each spring the cycling season kicks off with the Annual Ride for the Pass event which takes place every May before the road is open to car traffic.

The Grottos Ice Caves

9 miles east of Aspen (.9 miles past Weller Campground), pull into the day use parking area on the right-hand side of the highway. From the parking lot, you will see picnic areas popular with families along with hiking trails leading to waterfalls, rock formations & ice caves.

Camping

Fee-based camping on the Aspen side of Independence Pass is available at Difficult Campground, Weller Campground, Lincoln Gulch, and Lost Man Campground. Free camping can be found along Lincoln Creek Road.

Rock Climbing

Independence Pass Rock Climbing offers short approaches and a large variety of climbs, both trad/mixed and sports climbing is available.

Winter Recreation

Highway 82 is closed at the Winter Gate, 5 miles east of Aspen, around the beginning of November each year. However, visitors are still able to enjoy recreational opportunities on the closed, snow-packed road.

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