Thursday, March 8, 2012

Side Views: Driving Up Independence Pass

Found some old pictures from a trip four years ago...Independence Pass was closed the day before due to weather. The next day, a break in the clouds and I decided to go for it, all the way up the Continental Divide. Pretty cool when things turn out right...

Punched the "most scenic" route option on the GPS, and hoped the break in the weather would hold.

The ascent up the pass could be a little unnerving, as the steep roads don't have any guard rails, at least most of the way up Independence Pass. There are a lot of sharp bends and tight corners, but the drive up is well worth it. Being off-season also meant less vehicles on the pass, so it was comforting to see some snowplows plying the route every so often.

And after the steep drive up, you're there. At an elevation of more than 12,000 feet above sea level, it's an awesome sight.

With heavy snow the day before, you find that the only footprints are yours. Very cool. The air is noticeably thinner, and walking up all the way can be challenging. It's a good idea to bring some snacks and beverages, but then again, the sights just overwhelm you.

The weather did hold, and the drive down was more relaxed, with only an unexpected traffic jam providing a welcome break. And before I could get a closer shot, they were gone, just like that.

Travelling off season does have its perks, and a lucky break in the weather makes it even better. The drive up Independence Pass remains one of my most memorable road trips yet, with beautiful views on every turn, and some unexpected sights as well. And I'd love to do it again.

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