Independence Pass, White River National Forest (Nearby Hotels)
This high mountain pass sits at an elevation 12,095 feet on the Continental Divide in the Sawatch Range, about halfway between the towns of Aspen and Twin Lakes. You’ll find a number of high-alpine trails that start just below the top of the pass off Highway 82, including the Lost Main Trailhead. If you have a limited amount of time, or just want to get a taste of high altitude hiking with committing to anything too strenuous, take the Linkins Lake Trail, a short but steep journey. This 1.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail will get your heart-pounding without being overly challenging, yet the scenery is spectacular. The Lost Man Trail is considerably longer, at a total of nine miles, but has a gentler pitch and is great for those who are looking for something a bit more substantial. It features some of the easiest access to an alpine wonderland of meadows and lakes anywhere in the area.
While you’re in this region, be sure to visit Independence Townsite. A .4-mile loop trail will bring you to the ghost town of Independence, which was home to over 40 businesses with three post offices and an estimated population of 1,500 in 1882. Today, a number of structures remain, including the former general store, stables and a cabin that was restored and served as the summer home of the Aspen Historical Society’s Independence intern for many years.