Hiking Maroon Bells

10 Oct

Maroons Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, located in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, near Aspen, Colorado. They are considered to be the most photographed peaks in Colorado.

I have a confession: prior to Jenna and Andy’s engagement, I had never heard of them. I had been to the Denver-area twice before but never ventured too far into the mountains. Now having been there, I’m furious. I’m kind of a picture fanatic (read: I take waaaaaay too many pictures) and while we wandered around the Bells for a couple of hours, I took literally 600 pictures. I was THAT in awe. Side note: the pics in this blog post are from my phone. They’re terrible compared to what my DSLR was able to capture.

I Googled Maroon Bells before our trip and the pictures online don’t do it justice. They’re beautiful. Icing on the cake? It was fall so the colors were insanely vivid – and just prior to our arrival in the greater Denver area, it had snowed, so the tops of the Bells were snow-covered awesomeness. (And never will you get me to say “snow” and “awesomeness” in the same sentence again.)

Maroon Bells

For those who have never been: it gets busy on the weekend. Unfortunately, due to our timing, that’s the only time we could make the trek out there. Also, on the weekend, you’re not allowed to drive into the park; you must bus. Since it’s their busiest time, they try to limit the amount of cars driving to help preserve the environment of the park (LOVE this place – more parks should get on board).

We hopped on an Aspen city bus to a quaint little shopping mall near one of the ski resorts (I want to say Highland?) and jumped on one of the buses to get into the park. There’s a small fee per person, but it’s totally worth it. Besides, I enjoyed the bus driver’s commentary about random Maroon Bells facts and happenings – something we wouldn’t have heard otherwise by driving in ourselves during the week. Interesting fact? They were performing a rescue of a hiker that was stuck in the mountains and had been missing for a few days.

Maroon Bells itself is HUGE. In order to get to the true ‘bottom’ of the Bells, you have to hike in about 5 miles. Since we arrived later in the afternoon and buses stopped running at 6 pm, we weren’t able to venture too much. We DID, however, encounter some park rangers who were guarding trails because some moose decided to bathe near the lake we were walking around.

Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells in the fall.

We hiked for about an hour into the park, which was probably a shorter distance than we thought we went. If you’re not trained or conditioned to walk (let alone hike!) at such high elevations, you lose breath by walking up seven steps – or playing mini-golf. I’m not saying that happened; I’m just saying it could have happened.

Consensus? Go. Go now. Maroon Bells is beautiful and you feel like you’re a world away.

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