Independence Pass to Remain Closed a Little Longer This Year
Highway 82 over Colorado's Independence Pass will remain closed a little longer than usual. Don't get too worried, we're only talking about a matter of days.
Under normal conditions, Independence Pass typically opens on the Thursday just before Memorial Day. Where 2020 is concerned, that would by May 21. As it stands, the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to open the pass on June 1.
According to The Aspen Times, Pitkin and Lake counties submitted a request to CDOT on Tuesday asking for the extended closure.
CDOT understands the COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique situation and we support Pitkin County, Lake County, the Independence Pass Foundation and the Forest Service in keeping the communities safe and in control of visitors to these counties. - Colorado Department of Transportation
If you're like me, even though I'm a lifelong Colorado resident, it's been decades since my last visit to Independence Pass. According to CDOT, each year the two-lane, 12,095-foot pass shuts down for the winter on or near November 7. The pass is limited to vehicles less than 35 feet in length. That requirement includes trailers if the combined length of the trailer and the towing vehicle exceeds 35 feet.
When traveling Independence Pass, keep an eye out for cyclists. The CDOT official webpage states, "The character and natural beauty of the Pass draw a large number of bicyclists and sightseers. Consequently, sharing access to this Scenic and Historic Byway requires considerable attention."
The Aspen Times reports the extended closure may be a big disappointment for skiers. Why is that? According to Karin Teague, executive director of the Independence Pass Foundation, when the pass receives a decent snowfall, skiers look forward to parking at the summit, climbing the peaks, and then skiing down. Teague adds skiers will then ride the shuttle or hitchhike back to the summit.
It appears tourists, site-seers, and skiers will have to wait an extra 11 days. While that may be a drag for some, it appears CDOT will make the most of the time. The Aspen Times adds CDOT crews will have extra time to clear snow and conduct pavement repair and guardrail replacement.