Sunday, September 28, 2008
Top of the Rockies - what a road!
We took a scenic drive today on the Top of the Rockies byway. This starts at I70 near Vail, CO and travels south on highway 24 through Tennessee Pass to Leadville, Then, you will travel west on Hwy 82 through Aspen by way of Independence Pass.
Most of the road is over 9,000 feet in elevation with the top portion touching over 12,000 feet!
The road winds though beautiful stands of aspens and offers one great view after another. One big surprise was when we passed the site of Camp Hale which was the training site of the WWII 10th Mountain Division that specialized in winter combat. Camp Hale housed some 14,000 men during late WWII and filled this valley with barracks and other buildings. It was very interesting to explore the many information kiosks and learn about this important aspect of the WWII era.
Leadville is the next stop and is a very interesting city. Called the Cloud City, it is at over 10,400 ft in elevation and is the highest incorporated city in the USA. A great place to get a snack or fillup the car.
We now turned onto Hwy 82 which is a much smaller road and limited to vehicles less than 35' (no coach here!). We began to climb from the 10,000 foot level to make Independence Pass which is crossed at 12,095'! Wow -- magnificent views rewarded us as we looked over the alpine setting. We looked quickly, though as a snow shower hit! Seemed like a great time to continue to Aspen.
After this wonderful drive, we had a great dinner with friends back in Eagle. A great day to be sure.