Opening of Independence Pass, CO Will Now be Delayed Into June

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Independence Pass. Credit: The Denver Channel

The annual spring opening of Independence Pass is likely to be delayed into the first week of June, which would be more than a week later than normal, reports the Aspen Daily News.

“I am guessing we are into the first week of June to get the pass opened,” Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said Tuesday. ”Our guys will shoot for that,” she added when asked if the pass could open around the weekend of Saturday, June 1.

The last time the Continental Divide-spanning pass opened late was in 2008, following another epic winter. That season saw an opening that was roughly a week behind schedule, according to records referenced by Independence Pass Foundation director Karin Teague. The pass, which connects Aspen and Twin Lakes via State Highway 82, is normally scheduled to open the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, which is a week from Thursday.

“The amount of snow, even up top where it is usually wind-scoured, and the heaviness of the snow — it is just so wet; it is really unusual up there,” Teague said. “ … It is quite the sight.”

Besides the deep snowpack, additional work has been required to clean up numerous winter slides that buried the roadway in avalanche debris that’s littered with boulders and snapped trees.

maroon bells, aspen, colorado
Stock image of a dusting of autumn snow on the 14,000’ Maroon Bells in Colorado.

In better news though, thanks to higher temperatures and rain softening up avalanche debris, Pitkin County officials said Tuesday they plan on opening Maroon Creek Road all the way to the Maroon Bells by May 24.

“We’re aiming to be done the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend,” said Scott Mattice, the county’s road and bridge director. “That’s our goal barring anything crazy happening elsewhere.”

Prior estimates indicated the road might not open until June 15 affecting many pre-booked wedding parties in the iconic beauty spot.