East of Aspen, Highway 82 climbs steadily next to the Roaring Fork River towards the Sawatch Range in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, and reaches a high point of 12,095 feet at Independence Pass, then descends into the even more beautiful valley of Lake Creek, eventually joining US 24 fifteen miles south of Leadville.

The scenery at the pass and all along the 44 mile route is some of the most spectacular in all Colorado, and perhaps the finest viewable from a major highway – the road runs right beneath many great mountains including the highest in the state (14,433 foot Mount Elbert), and rises well above the treeline into the stark Alpine tundra zone, while also passing lakes, rivers, steep-sided valleys, thick forests of fir and extensive aspen groves – so in fall, the yellowing leaves make the landscape even more colorful and photogenic.

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