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Snowmobiling: Colorado > White River National Forest > Aspen Ranger District

Quick Facts

Independence Pass

Beginning Elevation: 7,985 Feet (2489.1 Meters) Aspen
Elevation Gain: 4,308 Feet (1342.9 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,093 Feet (3769.6 Meters) summit Independence Pass
Length: 19 Miles (31.67 Kilometers) From Aspen to the summit of Independence Pass

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Independence Pass connects Aspen with Twin Lakes.  It has been used for commerce since the first miners entered the Roaring Fork valley in 1879.
Copyright: Marshall Hall - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Independence Pass connects Aspen with Twin Lakes. It has been used for commerce since the first miners entered the Roaring Fork valley in 1879.
This mountain-pass road is one of the best ways to see some amazing scenery out of your car window. It crosses the Continental Divide at Independence Pass (elevation 12,095 feet.) The fall colors can be spectacular on this scenic drive. This road is closed to winter traffic usually in early October.

Every winter Highway 82 closes for the season 5 miles southeast of Aspen due to the heavy winter snows and the difficulty in keeping this road open. This road, which goes over Independence Pass (elevation 12,095 feet), offers an excellent opportunity for cross country skiers to enjoy the majesty of the upper Roaring Fork Valley without having to concern themselves about traffic. Snowmobilers and walkers also use the road; dogs are allowed. The gentle and wide route is well packed down all the way to the ghost town of Independence (mile 57), beyond which there is significant avalanche danger. Generally, most skiers don't go any farther than Lincoln Creek Road (just past mile marker 51). Miles are marked by green mile markers (which indicate the distance from Interstate 70 in Glenwood springs). This popular route starts at the Snowgate at mile marker 47. It is nearly impossible to get lost, all you have to do is to follow the road. Heading up the road from the Snowgate, you will be traveling above the Roaring Fork River which runs through the valley below to the right; the scenery is dominated by the snow-covered peaks forming the valley walls. There is no severe avalanche danger before Lincoln Creek Road, but rocks often come down onto the road, especially along the initial part of this route. The first couple of miles ascend very gradually uphill; just before mile marker 49 the road gets narrower as it cuts into the side of the valley wall above the Roaring Fork River. Past mile marker 49 the road levels a bit as you pass Weller Campground. Approaching mile 50 you will be going through the beautiful narrow part of the valley, right alongside the Roaring Fork River. Rock walls rise steeply up on the left, and just past mile 50 are the Grottos. Lincoln Creek Road is about 300 yards beyond mile 51 on the right. You can continue up Lincoln Creek Road for about 2 miles before hitting areas of severe avalanche danger.

Directions from Aspen: Drive southeast from Aspen on Highway 82, this is the pass road. In winter you'll reach the end of the plowed road (about 5 miles from Aspen) and ample parking.

Seasonal Information:
Normal Summer Season: May through September (NOTE: Independence Pass Road is open and maintained during the Summer months.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Closed for winter season. Will reopen in May. Updated: 2002-12-23 14:44:00.0

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Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The pass opened for Memorial Day. A spectacular drive with green valleys and snowcapped peaks. Two to three feet of snow on the pass is being enjoyed by skiing diehards.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Cross-country Skiing Independence Pass Road - November through April
ICON Road Biking Independence Pass Road
ICON Scenic Driving Independence Pass
ICON Snowmobiling Independence Pass Road - November through April
ICON Snowshoeing Independence Pass Road - November through April

More Information

Visitor Information:

Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Ste. 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO


Local Lodging

Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel
Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel

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