In 1962 probably, I also traveled from Austin through Independence Pass to Aspen, in a station wagon with my mother at the wheel and my brother and sister along. There was an Aspen Music Festival, at which I saw the famed French composer Darius Milhaud at the very end of his life. But it was long before Aspen became chic and super-expensive. We got out at the top of the pass (a little later in the season than you, so less snow) and I handled the family movie camera. I took horrible images, panning much too quickly. So we had some nice blurry movies of the place. I can tell you that crossing West Texas from between Austin and Amarillo round-trip was not my idea of an interesting drive. Nothing but hillbilly music on the radio and almost not one single tree.
Thanks for your comment, Vincent! The sky and scenery on the pass offered brilliant colors for photography. I was happy to climb the pass on the day it opened – leaving plenty of snow for color contrast.
Having crossed West Texas more times than I can count, I can relate. Thankfully, the state has raised speed limits on West Texas to 80 to shorten the drive a bit.