Forest Service restricts USA Pro Challenge camping on Independence Pass

Camping will be allowed on lower slopes of the pass, with race day parking available up high

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — The U.S. Forest Service, concerned about environmental waste left by roadside campers, has barred fans from camping overnight on parts of Independence Pass during the USA Pro Challenge, according to the Aspen Daily News.

This year, the weeklong UCI stage race travels over the pass twice, with Aspen hosting the finish of stage 3 and the start of stage 4. The race climbed the pass once, near the end stage 2, during its first edition in 2011.

After discussions between the Forest Service, law enforcement and race organizers, overnight camping above Lost Man campground is no longer permissible, although daylong encampments are still allowed. Camping overnight will still be permitted in actual campgrounds, such as Difficult, Lincoln Gulch, Portal, Weller, and Lost Man. Additionally, on the actual race days of August 22 and 23, Lincoln Creek Road will still be open to camping.

The move comes in the wake of late-night partying by campers during last year’s race over Independence Pass. The estimated 3,000 to 5,000 spectators generated enough waste to pose, “an environmental threat to the wilderness area and was a problem for the Forest Service,” the article stated.

First-come-first-served roadside parking will be available one race day, and Nancy Lesley, special events director for Aspen and head of the local organizing committee, remains optimistic that race attendance will be unaffected.

“We feel good that our crowds up there are going to be as excited and significant as last year,” she told the Daily News.