Independence Pass could close anytime | AspenTimes.com

Independence Pass could close anytime

Aspen Times Staff
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” Time is running out for travel over Independence Pass east of Aspen.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews try to keep Highway 82 over the 12,095-foot pass open as long as safely possible until Nov. 7 – the established annual closure date for the pass – but oftentimes, they wind up locking the gates early.

Plow crews worked about eight hours to keep the route across the Continental Divide open during Sunday’s snows, according to a CDOT spokesman. Up to a foot of new snow fell in the high country. The agency’s website, which details statewide road conditions, (www.cotrip.org) lists the status of Independence Pass as open – conditions permitting.

Last year, CDOT closed the pass Friday, Oct. 20, because of hazardous travel conditions, intending to reopen it after the weather cleared. Instead, snow, wind and whiteouts made the route impossible to safely maintain, and the agency announced the following Monday that the pass would remain closed for the winter. It had already closed temporarily twice with last fall’s early snowstorms.

Once the gates are locked on both the Aspen and Twin Lakes sides of the pass, there’s only one way in and out of Aspen by road – Highway 82 to the northwest. It links up with Interstate 70 in Glenwood Springs. When it is open, the pass is a scenic shortcut for travel between Aspen and points south, as well as Denver and the Front Range.

Weather permitting, CDOT reopens the pass each May, just before the Memorial Day weekend.