Independence Pass is now open after a week delay
A look at the opening dates for Independence Pass since its latest opening in 2008:
2019 – May 31
2018 – May 24
2017 – May 25
2016 – May 26
2015 – May 21
2014 – May 22
2013 – May 23
2012 – May 11 (early opening)
2011 – May 26
2010 – May 27
2009 – May 21
2008 – June 5
Independence Pass east of Aspen opened a bit early Friday after a week-long delay from its traditional opening.
Officials with the Colorado Department of Transportation opened the gate east of Aspen just after 2 p.m. Friday. They were hoping to get it open by 5:30 p.m. Friday but were able to open a bit earlier.
Each spring, crews try to open Independence Pass on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend. However, with this season’s large snowpack and numerous avalanches on the Pass the opening was delayed for the first time since 2008, when it did not open until June 5.
In 2012 the Pass opened May 11, two weeks ahead of schedule.
“Because of all the remaining snow and avalanche debris motorists are reminded to take it slow, be aware and enjoy the beauty of this scenic highway,” CDOT said on its Facebook page.
Friday’s opening was a bit lackluster compared to years past, likely because it opened more than three hours ahead of the announced time.
Usually there is a line of cars waiting at the winter closure gate (which is about 5 miles east of Aspen) to be the first ones up. However, when the gates opened, there were just CDOT crews and a few others.
One of the avalanches this winter took out about a 100-foot section of guardrail near the 12,095-foot summit, and crews spent the past few days fixing the railing.
Independence Pass will remain open through the summer and traditionally closes for the winter in the first week of November. The earliest it’s been closed and not reopened in the past decade was in 2010 when it closed Oct. 25. It stayed open until Nov. 17 in 2016 and ’17.
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The ski pass war between Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass and Alterra Mountain Company’s Ikon Pass reshaped the industry last season.