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Designated a National Scenic Byway

Length: 115 miles
Driving time: 3 hours
Open: All Year Round
(Independence Pass closes in winter)

Top of the Rockies Itinerary

The route crosses the Continental Divide three times and traces the Arkansas River. With altitudes seldom dipping below 9,000 feet, this byway earns its name. Visit historic mining railroad towns en route to historic Leadville, the highest incorporated community in the U.S. Old mining camps attest to the state’s rich mining heritage.

A 40-mile extension to the byway was recently approved from Twin Lakes, over Independence Pass on State Highway 82 and into Aspen.  Independence Pass starts at 9,200 feet and climbs to 12,095 feet at the summit, which is ringed with peaks of 13,000 feet including Mt. Champion, Geissler Mountain, Twining Peak, Grizzly Peak and Casco Peak.

Top of the Rockies was designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as a National Scenic Byway in 1998.

Main Town: Leadville, Aspen, Minturn

Features include:

  • Ghost Towns: Independence, Ashcroft
  • Arkansas Headwaters State Recreation Area
  • Pike, Arapaho, White River National Forests
  • National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Crosses the Continental Divide three different times
  • Colorado’s two highest peaks – Mount Elbert 14,433 feet and Mount Massive 14,421 feet
  • Leadville is a National Historic Landmark District
  • Mt. Massive Golf Course, North America’s highest golf course.
  • Braille Trail – First Sight-impaired Trail in North America with Braille and Printed Interpretive Signage
  • Turquoise Lake, Twin Lakes Reservoir, Arkansas River

Wildlife: Elk, deer, beaver