Independence is the highest paved pass in the country (over 12 thousand feet) with a dozen and a half 'fourteeners' (peaks over 14 thousand feet) visible from the summit. Having done a close fly-by of Everest in the Himalayas last year, and Loveland and Boreas Passes on this trip, I still felt more at the 'top of the world' here. We drove up from Aspen on a clear day after an early October snow storm, so that the transitions between yellow aspens glistening in the sun, green pines in steep valleys thinning out near the tree line, and then the pure white peaks poking the thin blue sky were stunning. The road is paved all the way to the summit but has one lane sections, icy patches where the sun doesn't reach, and no guard rails for most of the drive. But, then, you would not want to be in a hurry among such splendor!
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