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Independence Pass closes for the season

snowplow independence pass 2021
Posted at 5:48 AM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 10:21:36-04

Independence Pass, Colorado's highest continuous paved state highway, is officially closed for the season.

The Colorado Department of Transportation said crews closed it at 7 p.m. on Monday due to wintry weather and storms. That closure lasted until the start of the seasonal winter closure, which started Thursday.

Unaware drivers will find closed gates on both the Aspen and Twin Lakes side of the pass.

The closure helps protect drivers' safety, as sections of the road are prone to avalanche hazards and plowing the steep switchbacks is not safe.

To travel to Aspen, drivers can take westbound Interstate 70 to Glenwood Springs, then Colorado Highway 82 to Aspen.

The pass typically closes in November. In previous years, the closures began:

  • 2011: Nov. 2
  • 2012: Nov. 9
  • 2013: Nov. 4
  • 2014: Nov. 12
  • 2015: Nov. 4
  • 2016: Nov. 17
  • 2017: Nov. 17
  • 2018: Nov. 5
  • 2019: Oct. 28
  • 2020: Nov. 13

Independence Pass usually opens on the Thursday ahead of Memorial Day weekend, as long as the weather allows for a safe reopening.

It is considered the highest state highway in the state because it is continuous. Technically, the Mount Evans Highway is the highest paved highway on the state highway system, according to Bob Wilson with CDOT, but that highway comes to a dead end at the top of the mountain.

The road up and down the pass straddles Lake County and Pitkin County, and crosses the Continental Divide at 12,095 feet. The summit has a parking lot, restrooms, and a short walkway to an overlook. It is about 18 miles west of Twin Lakes and 19 miles east of Aspen.