Maroon Bells & Maroon Lake
Reservations are required to visit the Maroon Bells Recreational Area, whether by personal vehicle or by shuttle. When buses are not in operation, vehicle parking reservations are still required to access the Maroon Bells Scenic Area. You can start making reservations for either beginning April 11: Reservations. More information about reservation and permit requirements for the Maroon Lake Scenic area can be found on the White River National Forest website.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The U. S. Forest Service’s plan to implement a pay-to-play system for backpackers in the popular Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness this summer will not take effect until next year. That’s great news for backpackers and hikers this summer!
The Maroon Bells are stunningly beautiful, well worth experiencing. Vehicle access typically begins late May and the shuttle system from Aspen Highlands begins in early June, at which point vehicle traffic is prohibited between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The road is closed for cars in the winter months, but walking and cross country skiing can be excellent alternatives. Snowmobile tours from T Lazy Seven Ranch are also available. There are no vending machines or restaurants at the Bells so be sure to bring what you need. Many Aspen restaurants offer a box lunch with advance notice.
Getting to Aspen Highlands To go to the Bells between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. either drive to Aspen Highlands parking lot or catch the RFTA Castle/Maroon from Main Street, the bus stop is just one block east from the Tyrolean Lodge. The bus from town runs every 20 minutes starting at 8:02 a.m. The Tyrolean Lodge to Aspen Highlands is a short 7 minute drive by car. If you are taking the RFTA bus, allow 15-17 minutes.
Maroon Bells Bus Tour Begining May 27, 2022, bus shuttles depart from Aspen Highlands Ski Area. The reservations includes park entry, bus ride and, depending on the driver, some interesting narrative on the eight mile ride up to the Bells. The buses run about every 15 minutes and the last bus down is 5:00 p.m., so don’t miss it! One-way advance reservations will be required for hikers coming down.
Driving Directions to the Bells Take 82 west about one mile to the roundabout, then take the second exit onto Maroon Creek Road. Follow Maroon Creek Road about 1 mile to Aspen Highlands Ski Area or continue on past the T-7-Lazy Ranch until you reach the parking lot, 8.7 miles up. The road is scheduled to open May 15, 2022 and the season runs through September as weather permits. During the off season, cars are permitted as weather allows until the winter closure.
Bike the Bells Biking to the Bells is a rewarding alternative but there are a few considerations. The ride is 8.7 miles from Aspen Highlands and it is all up hill, gaining 800 feet in elevation. Make sure you are well hydrated and well acclimated to the high altitude. Between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm you’ll find the only traffic on the road is bus traffic. If your renting bikes/e-bikes, please make sure you have a conversation about bike etiquette and take appropriate safety precautions.
INSIDER TIP: Be prepared! Bring a raincoat, be still and watch for wildlife. Moose are known to frequent Maroon Lake and Maroon Creek while Red Fox are also seen sleeking around the area. For the keen observer, sometimes the snow white mountain goats can be spotted on the rocky slopes.