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Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip

08.15.17

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Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip

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  • Linkins Lake Trailhead.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Wildflowers along the Linkins Lake Trail.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Wildflowers along the shore of Linkins Lake.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • The top of the Grottos.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • The Devil's Punchbowl is just downstream from the Grottos.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • The rocks in the Grottos have been shaped by water- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Typical site at Lincoln Creek Campground.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Typical site and bear box in Lincoln Creek Campground.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Loop road at Weller Campground.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Typical campsite at Weller Campground.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • View looking up the valley toward Difficult Campground from the road.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • The campground road entrance off of Highway 82.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • An old homestead along the Hunter Creek Trail.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Looking back toward the Elk Mountains from the Hunter Creek Trail.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Wildlife viewing area on the East Aspen Bike Trail.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Typical scene along the East of Aspen Trail.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Paraglider coming in for a landing near the East Aspen Bike Trail- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Cliff jumpers at Devils Punchbowl.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Cliff jumpers at Devils Punchbowl. - Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Camping near La Plata Peak.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • View of the South Fork Lake Peak River and La Plata Peak (14,360 ft) on the right. - Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • La Plata Peak Trail.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • La Plata Peak Trail.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Scrambling near 13,500 feet on La Plata Peak.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • A campsite in Parry Peak Campground.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • A campsite in Parry Peak Campground.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Twin Lakes below the Mount Elbert Trailhead.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Beautiful aspen and fir forest early in the Mount Elbert hike.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Climbing Mount Elbert in the snow is best done early in the morning before it has softened.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Mount Massive looming north of Elbert.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • Most of the Interlaken Trail skirts the lake and offers great views.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • The Dexter Cabin along the Interlaken Trail.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
  • The Interlaken Lodge building was moved to save it from rising water in 1979.- Highway 82: Sawatch Road Trip
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Highway 82 runs northeast to southwest through some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery, including Independence Pass. Located at 2,095 feet above sea level, this stretch of Highway 82 is the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide and definitely a noteworthy moment along the drive.

Coming in at 85.3 miles total and taking about 2 hours to drive, Highway 82 is best experienced over a few days. With plenty of campgrounds and the resort community of Aspen nestled along this drive, not to mention the hikes and swimming holes found along the way, there’s no reason not to spend at least three days exploring this alpine highway. In addition to offering access to some of the region’s impressive 14ers, there are plenty of mellower hikes, swimming holes, and biking trails along the way.

Highway 82 is known as one of the most dangerous but also most breathtaking roads in America. Don’t be afraid to take your time and soak it all in.

Day 1 and 2: Carbondale to Aspen

Depending on where you are coming from, heading northeast to southwest usually makes sense as a good place to start. While there is plenty to explore in Snowmass and the other towns along the way, here are a few must see adventures in the Aspen area:

Day 3: Aspen to Twin Lakes

This section of the drive features Independence Pass, and you’ll have a hard time keeping your eyes on the road as you drive through the picturesque peaks of the Sawatch mountains. Because of the high-elevation pass that is usually snowbound October through May, you’ll have to do this stretch in summer or early fall.

Day 4: Twin Lakes to Highway 24

The final stretch of this trip is easy, so take your time and be sure to hit some trails. Here are a couple that we suggest:

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