They are very comparable but there are a couple of sections of Independence Pass that are narrower than two lane. We use cookies. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t frightening. You can even take a quirky shuttle option called the Red Bus – a classic, bright red, limo-like roadster design with a canvas roof that rolls back to become convertibles on a clear day. In other times of the year, closures happen at higher elevations such as Logan Pass (a 6,646 feet elevation). Researchers now say evidence points to a location between the Arkansas River and Puertocito Piedra Lumbre in Kearny Gap, south of present-day Las Vegas, New Mexico. The railroad that once scaled the pass via a series of switchbacks has since been re-routed beneath the mountain by way of a tunnel. It just takes some getting used to. I thought the drive over Independence Pass was a little nervewracking, but the experience was well worth any anxiety. In spite of their efforts, Kearny’s journey was still fraught with difficulty. I'm not the best of drivers at all and I was able to handle it in a huge, huge down pour. For the most part the drive is quite nice and not too scary (if you're not used to driving through mountain passes, they can be scary). Get FREE email communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion. The Santa Fe Trail saw heavy use as a Union Army supply route west, and the narrow, protected Raton Pass was easy to guard. Restrooms inside the park are located at the visitor centers at Apgar, Logan Pass, St. Mary. Without a struggle, the United States laid claim to the territory. Advertising - Booked a small sedan, but as we were going to be driving to Aspen, Vail and Snowmass but were assured we would need a more powerful vehicle. This road is a perfect example of how rewarding life can be when testing your fears. You may have already seen this road if you are a movie fan. The so-called “Cimarron Route” was not only 100 miles shorter, but, cut across the relatively flat grasslands and deserts of present-day Kansas and Oklahoma instead of through the mountains. Just like we explored the Cottonwood Pass west of Buena Vista, we decided to spend a day on the Independence Pass south and west of Leadville. Mexican Captain Gallego and his 400 men met Becknell on his first journey to Santa Fe, and his writings, along with Becknell’s own journal describing the landscape, show more evidence that he and his men probably misidentified the Canadian River, and instead crossed another river or stream. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. Some areas have no guard rails, while others have only short guard rails or a low wall of rocks. Archive - Previous to that, in 1996, a Japanese tourist was killed by falling rocks. It was scary for me but maybe more so for my husband. Today, Raton Pass is a National Historic Landmark and is located along the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, a unit of the National Park Service. Although the Mountain Branch and the Raton Pass were known for being dangerous, Kearny specifically chose to head west through the mountains, rather than take the Cimarron Route. It provides truly magical scenery of the surrounding mountains, flowing waterfalls, large lakes, and hanging gardens. Answer 1 of 17: Is it comparable to Trailridge Drive or much more scary? If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu. I was kinda nervous here and there and yes lucky us met up with a truck at the very narrow curve. This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Most are from drowning. Related: What are the most popular tours in Aspen? Cookie Policy - Always keep your eyes on the road and drive slowly while remaining prepared to yield. United States ; Colorado (CO) Aspen ; Aspen - Things to Do ; Independence Pass; Search. The pass cut through the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains, allowing wagons access to the vast western territory. Some parts of the road did not have guardrails and there were some sections, which were just wide enough for 1 car. (ta && ta.queueForLoad ? The drive is described as “breathtaking,” “spectacular,” “gorgeous,” and blended with phrases like “you will never see anything more beautiful.” This road is considered a must-see when visiting the park. It is important to note that oversize and overweight vehicles are strictly prohibited from using the Pass at any time due to narrow and winding roads and steep inclines. Are there guardrails? more. I agree with the other posters, certainly no "scarier" than Trail Ridge Road, IMHO, not a scary road at all if you take your time, as alli suggested. Raton Pass, at the border of present-day New Mexico and Colorado, was one of the most important, yet treacherous, segments of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. - See 1,657 traveler reviews, 882 candid photos, and great deals for Aspen, CO, at Tripadvisor. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. We were on the outside. 45 miles per hour is the speed limit in the lower elevations and 25 miles per hour in the alpine section. It took us half day because we didn’t want to miss one great picture. Though much of the trail has been wiped out by new highway construction, distinct original segments remain. … wow. Are there guardrails? How Dangerous Is The Million Dollar Highway? Be cautious of cyclists and share the road! In June of 1821, William Becknell, a horse and mule trader, traveled west from Franklin, Missouri with a wagon and four companions. Public access to the land, however, is restricted, as the wilderness is privately owned. Some portions remain open year-round, providing access to several scenic spots and park activities. The Santa Fe Trail, which spanned 1,200 miles from Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico passing through deserts, mountains, and forests along its route, became the main means of transportation to and from the area. Independence Pass is a SCARY and beautiful drive! It is an experience you will never forget. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. You really aren't going fast enough for it to be a problem and I would imagine one would just have to back up a bit to pass if it was a large vehicle. It is also famous as one of the country’s most thrilling drives because of the high, sheer cliffs. Before Kearny and his men arrived, a team of workers set out along the trail to try to make passage easier including clearing rocks and debris from the notorious Raton Pass. This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in the United States. The top has nice views from over 12,000 feet...but it's really the drive that is exceptional. The sheer cliffs and tight, narrow switchbacks make it an eye-raising experience that has been described as a “nail biter.” And there isn’t much there to protect you. We were very glad we did - this was a massive, awe inspiring and scary drive. While Wootton’s toll road was highly profitable, the advancing western railroad system soon overtook it. Food and Lodging: Available at Rising Sun, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Apgar Village.