- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - Independence Pass opened for the summer Thursday, just in time for bonus skiing in Aspen.

Crews worked for about three weeks to clear it of snow that reached up to between 8 and 12 feet high in some spots, state transportation spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said.

Aspen is expecting lots of visitors for the Memorial Day weekend, including some taking advantage of Aspen Mountain being reopened thanks to more snow this month. The Aspen Times (https://bit.ly/1jaS0Cv) reports many businesses, including the Hotel Jerome, are planning to reopen after taking an off-season break.

Memorial Day is the usual target date to reopen the 12,095-foot pass that connects Aspen with Twin Lakes but deep snow and high avalanche danger made it more difficult this year. Road workers first began clearing snow on the west side of the pass and then purposefully triggered some large avalanches on east side in the Beeler Grade area last week, Trulove said.

Bicyclists and motorcyclists are warned to watch out for icy spots on the road.

Friday is the original target date for Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park to reopen but significant ice on some parts of the road is slowing down work. Officials are “cautiously optimistic” the road will open for the weekend, park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said.

Also on Friday, Guanella Pass and the Mount Evans road to Summit Lake are set to reopen.

Cottonwood and Kebler passes aren’t expected to open until mid-June.

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