By Jennifer McRae

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Independence Pass has closed for the season. Colorado Highway 82 closed at 7 p.m. Monday due to a winter storm.

The closure was extended into the seasonal winter closure starting Thursday. Closure gates will continue to be closed near Aspen and Twin Lakes. The safety closure is to keep maintenance equipment operators and the public safe during the winter season.

(credit: CBS)

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The Colorado Department of Transportation said that plowing steep switchbacks on CO 82 on either side of the pass is not safe during winter months and sections of the roadway are exposed to significant avalanche hazard.

The alternate route from the Denver metro area to Aspen is westbound Interstate 70 to Glenwood Springs, then CO 82 to Aspen. CDOT typically reopens the pass on the Thursday prior to the Memorial Day holiday weekend, depending on the weather, through November.

Additional Information from CDOT:

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Independence pass usually closes in November for the winter season. Dates for closures in previous years are:

2011 November 2
2012 November 9
2013 November 4
2014 November 12
2015 November 4
2016 November 17
2017 November 17
2018 November 5
2019 October 28
2020 November 13

Independence Pass is a Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway that is maintained by CDOT. It is the highest paved state highway in Colorado, crossing the Continental Divide at 12,095 feet. Though it is a paved road, it is also narrow and curvy on several stretches and therefore difficult to traverse in poor weather. The pass also has steep drop-offs in places along the route. Several areas of the roadway can only accommodate a single car width, so drivers must use caution and pay close attention when confronted with oncoming traffic.

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The summit of Independence Pass is located 18 miles west of Twin Lakes and 19 miles east of Aspen and crosses the Continental Divide over the Sawatch Range. The Pass travels through 32 miles of mountainous terrain. It winds through the San Isabel National Forest on the east and White River National Forest on the west side of the Divide.

Jennifer McRae