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Mountain Passes Open For Memorial Day Weekend

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Crews dig out the parking area at the Alpine Visitor Center along Trail Ridge Road on Thursday in Rocky Mountain National Park, located at 11,796 feet. (credit: nps.gov/romo)

Crews dig out the parking area at the Alpine Visitor Center along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, located at 11,796 feet. (credit: nps.gov/romo)

Written by Meteorologist Dave Aguilera

For many, Memorial Day weekend is a kick-off for summer activities and that means heading to the mountains. We should be able to do that this weekend as many mountain passes are opening up as we head into the long holiday stretch.

Independence Pass is open if you’re planning to travel from Leadville to Aspen. The pass is a little over 12,000 feet high and has had a lot of snowfall in the month of April and May. This made it tough for crews with the Colorado Department Of Transportation to get it cleared and fixed up in time for the coming weekend.

Independence Pass on Thursday (credit: CBS)

Independence Pass on Thursday (credit: CBS)

The pass is a major scenic mountain corridor and once cleared makes for a great drive across the Continental Divide.

Independence Pass on Thursday (credit: CBS)

Independence Pass on Thursday (credit: CBS)

Farther north crews have finished work clearing Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park. This area was also dumped on with heavy snow in April and early May and it opened up on Friday before noon.

The late-season snow had slowed progress on getting the highest continuous paved road in the country cleared.

Trail Ridge crosses from Estes Park through Rocky Mountain National Park east to Grand Lake. This is also, a great early season drive which in some years has drivers traveling over a dry road through  10 to 20 feet high walls of snow on each shoulder side. Quite a sight to see.

From this weekend on CDOT crews will be continually monitoring and working on keeping these and other mountain passes open and safe through the summer.

Although it’s not a pass, officials with CDOT said they would open the Mount Evans Highway (Highway 5) for the season on Friday evening. The toll road runs from Echo Lake to the top of the 14er Mount Evans.

LINK: Mount Evans Scenic Byway | Trail Ridge Road | Independence Pass

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