Highway 82 runs northwest to southeast through some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery, including Independence Pass. Located at 12,095 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.
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:
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.
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: