Scenic passes, roads opening: Independence Pass, Trail Ridge Road, Cottonwood Pass and more

Several passes and roads will be open for the season today and over the weekend, including Independence Pass, Trail Ridge Road and Cottonwood Pass.

-- Independence Pass --

Independence Pass opened for the season on schedule at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The Colorado Department of Transportation patrols on both sides of the 12,095-foot pass broke through the snow and met in the middle. Crews are now working to make repairs to the pavement, guardrail, signs and more.

Snowpack levels on the east side of the pass are 31 percent of average, and levels on the west side are 63 percent of average. Last year, snowpack levels were zero percent of average, so the pass was opened earlier in May.

CDOT has warned motorcyclists to watch for sand and melted snow on the road that could freeze overnight.

-- Trail Ridge Road --

Trail Ridge Road opened on Friday morning. It's the highest continuous paved road in the United States, rising to 12,183 feet at its highest point.

The road connects Grand Lake and Estes Park. The mayors of both communities planned to cut a ceremonial ribbon to celebrate the opening of the road, but it has been canceled due to ice on the roads. It will be rescheduled.

The road traditionally opens on Memorial day weekend, but last year it opened early.

Crews start plowing at both ends of the road and meet at the Alpine Visitor Center each year. The visitor center is expected to open next week.

Park staff members are expecting a busy weekend. The two reservation campgrounds are already full Saturday and Sunday, and other campgrounds are expected to fill up quickly.

-- More scenic passes and roads opening this weekend --

The following scenic passes and roads are also open:

- Cottonwood Pass
- Kebler Pass
- Twin Sisters Trailhead Access Road
- Fern Lake Road
- Wild Basin Road
- Upper Beaver Meadows Road
- Endovalley Road

National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov

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