Independence Pass Colorado is home to a variety of recreational activities within an alpine setting. The elevation at the bottom of Independence Pass is approximately 7,800' and 12,095' at the high point. The western section of the Independence Pass road is located in the White River National Forest. The eastern half is situated in the San Isabel National Forest. The Colorado Independence Pass is at the summit of the ridge of the Sawatch Range between Aspen and Leadville. The Independence Pass connects the upper valley of the Roaring Fork River with the headwaters of the Arkansas River.
At 12,095 feet, the Colorado Independence pass is considered one of the highest paved roads in North America. The views from the top are magnificent, as is the drive from Aspen, which zigzags past thick stands of pine, high cliffs and glistening streams. Drive carefully. Independence Pass Colorado is characterized by sharp hairpin turns with steep and precarious drop-offs.
The western slope of the Independence Pass, Colorado is separated into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area and the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness Area. This is a popular area for Colorado biking, hiking, four-wheel driving, fishing, camping, and motorcycling. The more adventurous souls enjoy rock-climbing and backcountry skiing at Independence Pass, Colorado. The Independence Pass Ghost Town can also be found along the Colorado Independence Pass road.
The town of Independence is located 13.5 miles east of Aspen. Colorado legend has it that prospectors discovered the Independence Gold Lode on July 4, 1879. A tent city was formed that summer. By 1880, 300 people were living in the Independence camp.
By the year 1881, the Farwell Mining Company had acquired most of the leading mines in the Independence area. That summer, the population grew to 500. Four grocery stores, four boarding houses and three saloons were built. By the year 1882 the Town of Independence had over 40 businesses with three post offices and an estimated population of 1,500.
Unfortunately, the mining bust would soon follow. The opportunities for work at good pay and a milder climate enticed the residents of Independence to move to Aspen. In the winter of 1899 the worst storm in Colorado's history cut off the supply routes to Independence. The miners, who were quickly running out of food, decided to dismantle their homes in order to make 75 pairs of skis and to escape to Aspen. They made their adventure more pleasant by making turning it into a race sponsored by the Hunter's Pass Ski Club. The entry fee was one ham sandwich. Today, only five of the original structures remain.