ASPEN, Colo. (AP) -- An unusually mild winter and low snowpack have prompted a popular mountain pass east of Aspen to open weeks ahead of schedule.
The Colorado Department of Transportation says Independence Pass on Colorado 82 will open May 11, two weeks before it normally operates. CDOT maintains the pass and will have crews working the week leading up to the opening to assure it is safe for travel.
The early opening is markedly different from last year, when crews worked 14-hour days to remove snow up to 25 feet deep to open the pass by Memorial Day weekend.
The pass reaches a peak of more than 12,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. According to CDOT, it was the first road pioneered in the Roaring Fork Valley in 1881.