Top of the Rockies National Scenic Byway
Independence Pass, which connects Twin Lakes to Aspen via Hwy. 82, is closed for the winter, starting Oct. 30, 2023. Driving directions from Twin Lakes to Aspen are below.
The pass is not plowed in winter. It usually reopens the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend each spring.
All roads into Leadville and Twin Lakes are part of the Top of the Rockies National Scenic and Historic Byway. With altitudes rarely falling below 9,000 feet, the byway is worthy of its name.
Explore this route of towering peaks, broad valleys, and big lakes. You may spot wildlife, like the bighorn sheep, among the rocks. Gold, red, blue, and white wildflowers adorn the mountainsides in spring and summer.
- From I-70 near Copper Mountain, Highway 91 leads south to Leadville. It crosses the Continental Divide at Fremont Pass, 11,319′ high.
- From I-70 at Minturn, US 24 passes historic Camp Hale and crosses 10,424′ Tennessee Pass. Both routes lead to genuine and historic Leadville.
- Approximately 15 minutes south of Leadville, Highway 24 connects with Highway 82. From there, the highway leads west to Twin Lakes and over Independence Pass to Aspen.
Independence Pass has a high point of 12,095 feet. It is ringed with 13,000-foot peaks, including Mt. Champion, Geissler Mountain, Twining Peak, Grizzly Peak and Casco Peak. The drive features spectacular views and hairpin turns.
Please note: Commercial and recreational vehicles 35 feet or longer are prohibited, including trailers with a combined length of more than 35 feet. The restriction is due to tight curves, steep inclines and narrow lanes between Mile Point 47.2 (Aspen side) and MP 84.2 (Leadville/Twin Lakes side, about one mile west of the junction with US 24).
In summer, the drive from Leadville to Aspen is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes; from Twin Lakes, 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Driving Directions to Aspen in Winter
Independence Pass is open from Memorial Day weekend to early to mid October. The road is closed for winter from late October until late May. The closure’s exact timing depends on snowfall. The pass is now closed for the 2023-2024 winter.
To drive from Twin Lakes to Aspen in winter, take U.S. 24 West to I-70 West to Highway 82 East. The winter drive from Leadville to Aspen takes approximately 2.5 hours; from Twin Lakes, approximately 3 hours. Check COTrip.org for pass closure information, road conditions, and route information.
Learn more about the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway.