Just a Drive-by
On our trip from the Denver airport to Aspen, we decided to go through Glenwood Canyon, leaving Independence Pass for a day trip during our stay. Since the weather didn’t cooperate, and the rain in Aspen was snow at the over 12,000 ft elevations of the Pass, we never got a chance to see it. Since we were under the impression that once the Pass was closed, it was closed for the season, we decided our return trip would take us through Glenwood Canyon again. Not that I’m complaining – that was some of the most beautiful country around and with the construction we encountered a week earlier taking us from our regular divided highway to a two-way road with no turnoffs, we did not take one single picture.
After checking out the map for our return to Denver, we discovered one road that would take us on a little detour from the Interstate and into some great views. Unfortunately, even though the Interstate was back to divided highway, that road was not open yet. After doing more research, there are actually four rest areas that would have given us a chance to explore different sections of the canyon. Click for more information about Glenwood Canyon. Glenwood Springs would be a great little town to check out for a while. Click on the link to check that out.
I have to apologize in advance, because the pictures I’m showing you were taken from the car window as we drove along – some even through the windshield. I know, usually a no-no, but it was that or no pictures, so here goes. I did pick and choose and discard quite a few, I promise! It just goes to show that we’ll have to make a return trip to Aspen as soon as possible for better pictures of the Canyon and also a drive on Independence Pass.
We did actually stop for the first picture on the left, since that was in a small town and the backdrop was a spectacular snow-capped mountain. I don’t think I would ever get tired of that view when I came home every night! The other picture below is just a random shot of the beauty of Colorado. Ahhh…
The first two photos below are of Glenwood Canyon. After those are random shots taken on our way to the airport. We took 82 back to Interstate 70 all the way back to the airport. It was a beautiful drive and I would highly recommend it. It seems like going this route would be a long way out of our way – but given the intensity of the road thru the Pass, going the “easy route” (or the “only route” during the winter) – only adds about 40 minutes.
As you can see in the pictures, this was a beautifully maintained Interstate, almost stacked in some places, running in and out of tunnels and along the Colorado River. When I say almost stacked in some places – one of the biggest challenges the Colorado DOT faced was how to squeeze a four-lane freeway into a gorge barely wide enough to accommodate the existing two-lane highway with minimal impact to the environment. I think they did a wonderful job and it was really quite exciting! On a snowy day? Maybe not so much!
“The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) lists the construction of I-70 among the engineering marvels undertaken in the Interstate Highway system, and cites four major accomplishments: the section through the Dakota Hogback, Eisenhower Tunnel, Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon. The Eisenhower Tunnel, with a maximum elevation of 11,158 feet (3,401 m) and length of 1.7 miles (2.7 km), is the longest mountain tunnel and highest point along the Interstate Highway System. The portion through Glenwood Canyon was completed on October 14, 1992. This was one of the final pieces of the Interstate Highway System to open to traffic, and is one of the most expensive rural highways per mile built in the United States. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) earned the 1993 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers for the completion of I-70 through the canyon.” – READ MORE
Although the last picture above says 5 and 6% grades for the next 12 miles, we did encounter a 7% downgrade on the way TO Aspen. I’m glad we didn’t have to use the “Runaway Truck” lane and skid into the sand to slow us down. Jim did an excellent job (as usual) of keeping our rental car under control.
We have since found that it is not necessarily the case that if Independence Pass is closed it’s closed for the season, so make sure you check before you “assume” that it is.
Wisconsin here we come. And I’m OK with that.