When do the Colorado Pass Roads Open?

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By: Evan Dighe

Driving through the high Rockies is an unforgettable experience for tourists and natives alike. Anybody who has been to the Colorado Rockies will tell you why Colorado is one of America’s top road tripping destination. Every summer, millions of people will come to enjoy the fantastic sights, sounds, and smells of the easily accessible high alpine environment offered by Colorado’s pass roads.

There is nothing quite like zooming down Colorado’s curvy passes at sunset with the windows down with your favorite music on the radio. Whether you are driving to Aspen over Independence pass, through Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road, up Mt Evans, or down Cottonwood Pass, you will need to know when these roads are open and free of the winter’s snow.

1. Independence Pass

Known for its views of many of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, independence pass typically opens Memorial Day.

It is highly recommended to park at the top of the pass, where there is a parking lot and lookout point where you may see down the entire pass towards Twin Lakes. Keep an eye out for fancy sport cars ripping down from the town of Aspen, a favorite pastime of the rich locals and visitors of that time. A sight to see indeed!

2. Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road consists of 48 continuous miles over 12,000 feet through Rocky Mountain National Park. The road offers incredible chances for wildlife sightings, and some of the most spectacular views in the state.

The historic road is scheduled to open May 24th this year and has opened as late as June 26th in 1943. If you plan on road tripping Colorado, this is a must-drive, with potential stops in Granby and historic Estes Park. This road also provides great backcountry access for those looking to truly explore Rocky Mountain National Park, so don’t forget your backpack and hiking boots.

3. Mount Evans

Drive to the top of a 14er on the nations highest paved road. For people who may not be capable of hiking a 14,000-foot peak, this road offers great access to the top of one, making the high alpine accessible to all.

Experience the thin air, incredible views, and alpine environment as soon as May 24th this year. Keep an eye out for mountain goats and bighorn sheep, which are known to roam these parts.

4. Cottonwood Pass

Closed for construction since 2017, Cottonwood Pass is expected to finally re open to traffic this summer June 21.

Connecting Buena Vista to Crested Butte, Cottonwood Pass provides excellent camping opportunities and some of the best driving in the state. Its remoteness and altitude offer excellent opportunities for photography and wildlife sightings as well.

Whether you are looking for camping, views, wildlife, or just an enjoyable drive, Colorado’s pass roads provide excellent opportunities for all. Start planning your road trip today and hit all the best spots with your new found insider knowledge of Colorado’s pass roads. Now it is just up to you to get out there and enjoy the ride!