When it comes to epic driving tours of the state of Colorado, nothing tops the Independence Pass (Indy Pass) loop. This drive will take you through ghost towns, historic mining districts, up and over 11,000’ ft peaks, send you through the infamous town of Aspen and shoot you through one of the largest feats in United States construction history – the Glenwood Canyon.
Starting from our shop in Eagle-Vail, you will take Highway 24 through Minturn, past Red Cliff, and through Leadville. At Twin Lakes, you will hang a right (west) and cruise up and over Independence Pass and down into Aspen on highway 82. With Independence Pass only being open during certain months of the summer, this loop must be researched for road closures before heading out. From Minturn to the turn off at Twin Lakes, you are looking at a 90-minute straight shot. From Aspen to Glenwood Springs, you need to plan for at least an hour and from Glenwood Springs to our shop, again, you are looking at an hour. As a straight drive, the entire loop takes at least 4.5 hours so plan your stops according to your taste and what you hope to see.
#1. Ghost Town of Gilman Lookout point.
Above the town of Minturn and just before Red Cliff, you will come to a lookout point where you can view the town of Gilman Colorado and the Homestake Canyon. The town was built in 1886 during the Silver boom and later was a source for Lead and Zinc mining. In 1984 the EPA forced a town evacuation due to toxic pollutants including contaminated ground water. The town of Gilman is currently on private land and is strictly off limits to the public. The Ginn Company currently owns the property and once had lofty goals of creating a private ski area nearby – those plans were put on hold during the 2008 recession. To learn more about the ghost town of Gilman, you can visit the Wikipedia page at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilman,_Colorado
#2. Red Cliff Colorado
Red Cliff Colorado is currently known for its access points to the Vail Pass Recreation Area. It is also home to the very popular Mango's Restaurant which is a great place for lunch and dinner. The drive into Red Cliff offers some amazing views of the Green Bridge, Vail Pass, and Homestake Creek. In early June, Red Cliff Colorado and Homestake Creek plays host to the GoPro Mountain Games kayak event. It is worth the drive through if you just follow the map above for the best loop.