The Continental Divide runs through Colorado and one of the few ways across it by car is Independence Pass. At 12,095 ft, the air is clean (although thin) and weather can be vicious. During many months of the year the pass is closed due to snowfall and impassable conditions. Summer weather allows drivers to get out, stretch their legs and take in some astounding views.
The Ute tribe of Native Americans lived there when the first European settlers came to the area around 1806. Years passed and the mining craze that sprinted westward engulfed the area. On July 4th 1879, gold was found near what was then called Hunter pass and the name was changed to Independence.
The mining town of Independence was established 4 miles west of the pass in the Upper Roaring Fork Valley, and is now an attraction as a ghost town. How anyone lived and performed manual labor at this altitude is a mystery to me.
Today the area is maintained by the Independence Pass Foundation which holds a charity bike race every May before the road is open that serves as a fundraiser. The course is 9.5 miles from Aspen to the ghost town of Independence, covering a 2,500 foot climb.