Independence Pass Cycling

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About

Summary

For cyclists, Independence Pass/Highway 82 is one of the best and most challenging climbs in Colorado. "Indy' Pass is the 4th highest paved road in the state and it travels through spectacular mountain scenery, including the Elk Mountains and Collegiate Peaks. From downtown Aspen, cyclists will climb 4,200 feet with a max grade of seven percent for 19 miles climb to the summit. Aside from the challenging climb, the biggest challenge while cycling up Independence Pass is the narrow, rough, and shoulder-less road.

Written by

Leah Fielding

Distance

38.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

10.0 miles

Difficulty

5 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

4 hours

4-5 Hours.

Seasonality

Summer, Fall, and Winter

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

For cyclists, Independence Pass/Highway 82 is one of the best and most challenging climbs in Colorado. "Indy" Pass is the 4th highest paved road in the state and it travels through spectacular mountain scenery, including the Elk Mountains and Collegiate Peaks. From downtown Aspen, cyclists will climb 4,200 feet with a max grade of seven percent for 19 miles climb to the summit. Aside from the challenging climb, the biggest challenge while cycling up Independence Pass is the narrow, rough, and shoulder-less road.

What Makes It Great

Coming from Aspen, the steepest climbing is at the base, and then again at the summit. The best scenery and the narrowest roads are mid-mountain and you can actually enjoy the scenery because the grade is more moderate. Past Difficult Campground, which is about four miles from downtown Aspen, you're in for  to the campground, is where the fun really starts. Miles four to eight will be in the five percent to seven percent range and miles eight to about 10.5 will be in the five percent to six percent range. Then, from miles 10.5 to about mile 16, you can relax a bit and take in great phenomenal scenery, as the grade is only in the four percent range. The last three miles to the top are lung and leg-bursters with grades more than 7.5 percent. The views atop Independence Pass of the Collegiate Peaks and the Elk Mountains are spectacular.

As you climb, you will notice the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area is to your right and, to your left, is the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness area. Two areas to note are the Grottos, at about 9,750 feet (there is a parking area in this scenic spot and it is a good rest stop), and an area called the Narrows. At times, the road through the Narrows don’t seem able to support two way traffic. More than one car has lost a mirror to an on-coming vehicle. 

Who is Going to Love It

Challenge-seeking cyclists will find that Independence Pass provides no shortage of difficulty and skill.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Start from downtown Aspen and ride east on Highway 82 for 19 miles to the top of Independence Pass.

Location

Independence Pass Cycling

Aspen, CO, 81611
39.117936, -106.56529

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