The drive on the historic byway Independence Pass is as scenic as it is scary. It is a thrilled, adventurous, and memorable experience when you drive on the Independence Pass. The Independence pass is a 32 mile stretch on highway 82 over the Continental Divide in Colorado and winds between Twin Lakes on the east side and the world famous Ski Resort village Aspen on the west side. The Independence Pass summit is midway between Twin Lakes and Aspen and it crosses the Continental Divide over the Sawatch Range. The road twists and turns around stunning groves of aspen trees, scenic mountain views and hugs the roaring Fork River. This highest paved lane in Colorado is full of steep drop-offs, hard switchbacks, tight curves, hairpin turns, narrow winding, with no shoulder and no guard railings. Some sections of the road are so narrow that they can fit only one car at a time. Driving on the inside lane may give some secure feelings, but driving on the outside lane is nail biting. Not only drivers, but passengers will not be able to enjoy the breathtaking views as some portions of the drive are really intense.
These pictures are from our drive on Independence Pass on 29th September, 2019. It would have been better if we could visit in the summer as the summit offers breathtaking views of snow capped peaks and colorful valleys of wildflowers.
Quick Facts and Tips
- The summit of Independence Pass (Hunter Pass) is 12,095 feet above sea level and is located 18 miles west of Twin Lakes and 19 miles east of Aspen
- Independence Pass is closed for the winter and is generally open from Memorial Day until late October or early November depending on weather conditions.
- The Independence Pass overlook at the summit offers excellent views of Mount Elbert (the second-highest mountain in the U.S. and the highest peak in both Colorado and the Rocky Mountains) and La Plata Peak to the east; Maroon Bells and Capitol peaks are to the west towards Aspen. The trail to the overlook is a paved short 0.4 mile round trip hike from the parking lot
- The Parking lot at the summit stays busy with people entering and leaving the scenic byway to enjoy the breathtaking views
- It will be cold even in the summer at the summit so dress accordingly
- Vehicles over 35 feet long, oversized and overweight vehicles are prohibited on Independence Pass
- Take extra caution, drive slowly, always keep eyes on the road, watch for the cyclists especially around the curves, and pull over only at the designated areas.