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Independence Pass is the type of mountain pass that most cyclists dream of taking on. Starting in the quaint village of Twin Lakes, the road gently ascends into a canyon surrounded by large peaks and aspen groves. Then, at the base of the first switchback with a grand view of Mt. Champion, you have five more miles to the top and more switchbacks to go. This section will test your cycling endurance like nothing else, but take your time, it’s worth it.
All told, it is 19 miles and 3,000 feet in ascent from Twin Lakes to Independence Pass. At the top, you can feel good knowing you just climbed part of the Stage 2 route of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
TIP: Be prepared for any kind of weather at the top. At 12,000+ feet, it can be 20-30 degrees colder and have very different weather than down in the valley. Bring gloves, extra layers and plenty of liquids.
Independence Pass has portable toilets, a pedestrian trail and an overlook. It is typically open for vehicular traffic from Memorial Day weekend until the first major snowfall in October, although road cyclists can enjoy a longer season if no snow exists on the road.
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