Independence Pass, Colorado's highest continuous paved state highway, has reopened for the season to travelers.
Colorado Highway 82 takes drivers up and over the Continental Divide, which offers an unobstructed view of the Rocky Mountains at the 12,095-foot summit. The pass straddles Lake County and Pitkin County.
Colorado Department of Transportation crews opened the seasonal gates on both sides of the pass — Aspen and Twin Lakes — at noon Thursday.
In preparation for the 2022 season, CDOT crews fixed potholes, cleared rockfall and re-striped the road. These repairs aren't unusual — cracked and loose rock is common along the road due to regular cycles of freezes and thaws yearround.
While snow is rapidly melting along the pass, CDOT crews worked with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to perform avalanche mitigation prior to opening the gates.
The top of Independence Pass has a parking lo restrooms and short walkway to an overlook.
Any vehicle longer than 35 feet is prohibited from using the pass due to tight curves, steep sections and narrow lanes.
Independence Pass closed for the season on Oct. 28, 2021. Typically, it reopens the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend — right on time this year.
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.
If you're headed up to this route, check COTrip.org before leaving home, as spring snowstorms can close Independence Pass to all traffic.
Wondering when other mountain passes around Colorado will open? Here's what CDOT says:
- Mount Evans (CO 5): Will stay closed due to recent snow
- Cottonwood Pass (Road 306 in Chaffee/Gunnison Counties): Projected to open May 27
- Guanella Pass (County Road 381, County Road 62): Opened May 27 at 9 a.m.
- Kebler Pass (Gunnison County Road 12): Now open
- Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park (US 34): Opened May 27. It was closed again two days later due to winter weather conditions, but reopened June 3. Call 970-586-1222 for current road conditions