Tag Archives: Aspen

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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T Lazy 7 Ranch

9 Oct

Jenna and Andy got married in the mountains. It was a beautiful September day and it’s like the stars aligned for them on their special day; it snowed two days before and rained the day after. But the sun was shining bright, with cool 68 degree mountain air.

Their wedding was held at the t Lazy 7 Ranch near Aspen. The T Lazy 7 Ranch has been owned and operated by the Deane family since 1938. They hold weddings at their facility, but also have horse riding stables and host snowmobile getaways. You couldn’t tell the facility itself had been through any wear and tear; it was very well maintained, offering an outdoor patio off the main dining and dancing area, as well as a yard complete with lawn games, a pond filled with fish, old farm equipment used for western-themed pictures, all nestled in between two mountain peaks.

T Lazy 7 Ranch

The wedding ceremony was held in a meadow near the top of the property. Behind the makeshift altar was mountains for as far as the eye could see. Much like our trip to Maroon Bells, the only way into the ranch was by bus (or it was designed that way because of the open bar). Buses took us from the hotel, to the ceremony spot, to the facility for dinner, dancing and drinks.

T Lazy 7 Ranch house

Our own wedding aside, it was one of the best weddings I’ve been to. It was a beautiful wedding for a well-deserving couple who have been through a lot together, in one of the most amazing settings I’ve ever been lucky to be a part of. Congrats, Jenna, Andy and little Taylor!

 

A Place Where the Beer Flows Like Wine

7 Oct

“Oh yeah, and go where? Where are we gonna go?”

“I’ll tell you where. Someplace warm. A place where  the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen.”

As soon as we received Jenna and Andy’s wedding invites in the mail for their wedding in Aspen, Colorado, my husband walked around the house for the next few months reciting ‘Dumb and Dumber’ movie quotes to me. And it was only the beginning of what was to come once we were actually there.

Aspen is a beautifully quaint town about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Denver. The drive to Aspen is nearly as beautiful as the destination! I’m an awe with mountains though, because the closest thing we have to a mountain in the Midwest is Spirit Mountain – or my parent’s driveway. There are two ways to get to Aspen: Independence Pass on a windy two-lane highway on the edge of the mountains (literally) or the main freeway. We opted for the main freeway because they had gotten snow the night before – not exactly our cup of tea – and we were pressed for time.

Aspen drive

Driving through the mountains to get to Aspen. The view is alright, I guess.

We rented a condo through Frias Properties which was right at the foot of the ski slopes. The location was perfect. Aspen is a relatively small town, so we walked nearly everywhere we went. Our condo was on the third floor of the building and had a pretty amazing view once you stepped outside. Why would anyone who lived there ever leave?! Either way, I’m thankful they did because we got to take advantage of the view.

Aspen condo

The view from our condo rental in Aspen.

The reception dinner was at 39 Degrees, the restaurant that was a part of the Sky Hotel. The next few days encompassed mini-golfing, taking the gondola to the top of the ski slopes, hiking through Maroon Bells, going to the Aspen farmer’s market on Saturday morning and enjoying some restaurants unique to the area.

Aspen Farmers Market

The Aspen Farmers Market is several blocks long – and has everything from fresh veggies to jewelry to petting zoos!

If I enjoyed winter or skied. I would without a doubt make an annual trip to Aspen to ski. However, I a) don’t enjoy winter, b) don’t enjoy driving in the snow, much less on mountains, and c) can’t ski much more than a bunny hill or extremely easy downhill. That said, I’d glad go back in the summer or fall to enjoy the rafting, hiking or general sightseeing Aspen has to offer.