Independence Pass Cross-Country Skiing

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About

Summary

Aspen’s famed Highway 82, which climbs over the 12,095-foot Independence Pass, closes for the winter months and provides Nordic skiers and snowshoers with an excellent opportunity enjoy the majestic, snow peaks that bookend the Roaring Fork Valley.

Written by

Leah Fielding

Distance

22.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

5.3 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 hours

3-5 hours

Seasonality

Spring and Winter

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

Aspen’s famed Highway 82, which climbs over the 12,095-foot Independence Pass, closes for the winter months and provides Nordic skiers and snowshoers with an excellent opportunity enjoy the majestic, snow peaks that bookend the Roaring Fork Valley. You’ll also be treated to views of the river below as the trail winds above or next to the Roaring Fork river. Snowmobilers, winter hikers and dogs also use the road.

What Makes It Great

It’s nearly impossible to get lost as the trail winds along a paved road! The first couple miles ascend gradually, and around mile marker 49 the road narrows a bit as it cuts into a valley wall. Be aware of falling rocks here. Soon after, the road narrows out again as it passes Weller Campground. Around mile marker 50 you’ll pass the famed Grottos summer climbing venue. In about another mile you’ll come across Lincoln Creek. You can continue for another two miles until you’re into avalanche country.


The route is well packed all the way to the ghost town of Independence, beyond which there is significant avalanche danger and travel is not recommended. As a general rule most skiers don't go any farther than Lincoln Creek Road (just past mile marker 51). Mileage is marked by green mile markers which indicate the distance from Interstate 70 in Glenwood Springs.

Rock walls rise steeply up on the left and the Grottos are just beyond mile marker 50. Lincoln Creek Road is about 300 yards beyond mile 51 on the right. You can continue up Lincoln Creek Road for about two miles before hitting areas of severe avalanche danger.

Who is Going to Love It

Beginner and intermediate cross-country skiers looking for an easy grade and unforgettable views will enjoy Independence Pass best.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Drive southeast from Aspen on Highway 82 until you reach the end of the plowed road (about five miles from Aspen). There is ample parking here.

Location

Independence Pass Parking Lot

Aspen, CO, 81611
39.128521, -106.74515

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