Crews with the Colorado Department of Transportation reopened Independence Pass on Colo. 82 for the season last week. Workers unlocked seasonal closure gates on each side of the pass on Thursday, May 27. Sixty-three vehicles were the first to travel up Colo. 82 towards the pass from the Pitkin County gate.
Reopening the road for the 2021 season required significant rockfall mitigation during the week of May 17.
Crews conducted rock scaling, or the removal of nearby rocks, just east of the Grottos trailhead. The successful work resulted in about 25 loads of rock being removed from the rock face next to Colo. 82. The work was required after crews discovered rockfall while clearing the highway of snow earlier this spring.
Cracked or loose rock is common along the highway leading up to Independence Pass, and can develop due to regular and frequent freeze/thaw cycles in mountainous locations with year-round winter weather. Like previous years, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) crews also worked with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to perform avalanche mitigation before reopening.
CDOT reminds motorists that commercial and recreational vehicles 35 feet or longer are prohibited on Independence Pass. The restriction is due to tight curves, steep inclines and narrow lanes on some sections of the pass, and applies to vehicles and trailers with a combined length of more than 35 feet. Motorists should plan for the restriction to be in place on Colo. 82 between mile point 47.2 (Aspen side) and mile point 84.2 (Leadville/Twin Lakes side, about one mile west of the junction with U.S. 24).
Motorists and cyclists should check weather conditions prior to traveling mountain passes, as spring snowstorms can prompt closures or slow traffic.