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.

The Maroon Bells are stunningly beautiful, well worth experiencing. Vehicle access typically begins late May and the shuttle system from Aspen Highlands begins shortly thereafter, at which point vehicle traffic is limited to those with private vehicle trailhead parking permits. 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.

2023 Reservation Release Information 

Maroon Bells reservations are released on a rolling basis
March 1, 2023 – Reservation for May and June available
April 1, 2023 – Reservation for July and August available
May 1, 2023 – Reservation for September and October available


More information about reservation and permit requirements for the Maroon Lake Scenic area can also be found on the White River National Forest website, and Maroon Bells & Snowmass Wilderness page.

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Overnight Permit Zone Map
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 CM-Castle/Maroon bus 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 Typically the last week in May, 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 open, but vehicle traffic is limited to those with private vehicle trailhead parking permits, 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 and beavers 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.

    Maroon Lake

    Sculpted by Ice-Age glaciers and later damned by landslides and rockfall debris from towering slopes, Maroon Lake rests at 9,580 feet in elevation and is one of the most scenic places in the Rockies. The lake is ideal for photography, picnics, fishing, or strolling around.

    Maroon Lake Trail

    Follow this short, easy trail from the bus stop or parking lot up to the lake and meadow. Look for a beaver lodge, other hiking trails heading into the aspen woods, perhaps a moose or even trout along the banks. Easy. Up to a mile out and back..

    Scenic Loop Trail

    The path starts at the upper end of the lake just past the bridge. This short trail ventures into the wilderness offering sights and sounds of rushing streams and cascading falls and a quiet beaver pond. Easy. 1.5 miles round trip.

    Maroon Creek Trail

    At the outlet of Maroon Lake, you can enjoy a hike winding downstream along Maroon Creek through rocky slopes and mountain meadows and aspen forests. Wildlife can often be seen along the trails and at the end of your hike, wave down the bus for a lift back to Aspen Highlands. Easy. 3.2 miles one way.

    Crater Lake Trail

    For the more adventurous, this trail leaves the Maroon Lake Trail at the Deadly Bells Kiosk. This steep and rocky trail enters the Wilderness, climbing an ancient rockslide that holds Crater Lake, and more recently avalanche debris. Moderate. 3.6 miles round trip.

    Aspen to Crested Butte via East Maroon

    This hiking trail to Crested Butte is 5 miles longer than the shortest trail to Crested Butte, but it is most direct and the easiest to hike. It provides outstanding views of Pyramid Peak, scenic wooded walks, fields of wildflowers, several challenging river crossings and access to Copper Lake. Private vehicles will be allowed to unload hikers and backpackers at Maroon Lake between 6 and 8 am without a parking reservation. Commercial drop-offs, including taxi, hotel shuttles and ride services are prohibited.

    Aspen to Crested Butte via West Maroon

    This is the shortest route to Crested Butte. It offers magnificent views of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area and vast fields of wildflowers. The trail ends at Schodfield Park, 14 miles from Crested Butte. Arrangements for a taxi to meet you at Schodfield Park can be made by calling the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce. PLAN ON STARING THIS HIKE IN THE EARLY MORNING AS THUNDERSTORMS ARE COMMON AT THE PASS IN THE EARLY AFTERNOON. At the front end, private vehicles will be allowed to unload hikers and backpackers at Maroon Lake between 6 and 8 am without a parking reservation. Commercial drop-offs, including taxi, hotel shuttles and ride services are prohibited.

    Crested Butte to Aspen

    Hikers who plan to return to Maroon Lake after their backcountry adventure must reserve a one-way shuttle trip to return to Aspen Highlands in advance. Return tickets and reservations are not available at the Maroon Bells Scenic Area and there is no cellphone service to connect to the reservation system there.