Visit Maroon Bells - Information, Tips & Advice
Maroon Bells Information
The Maroon Bells, surrounded by pristine National Forest lands, are the most photographed peaks in all of North America. Here you can explore the glacial valley while surrounded by 14,000 - foot peaks. Maroon Lake, surrounded by fields of wildflowers, mirrors images of the Maroon Bells in it's waters.
Maroon Bells has limited accessibility by car but there are bus tours running throughout the day for the summer season. The road is open to all Non-Motorized forms of transportation at no charge. (bicycles, skateboarders, hikers, rollerbladers, etc...). The road up to the Maroon Bells is closed in the winter. You can hike on this road in the winter but it is a 12 mile round trip to make it to the lake.
For the best Maroon Bells experience we recommend visiting on a weekday and utilizing the bus service. If you have skied in Aspen, you know how easy and hassle free the bus service is; if you haven’t experienced it yourself, take our word for it, leave the driving to someone else. While the road is open to private vehicles prior to 8am, this doesn’t necessarily mean the parking lot will be open and available. Frequently photographers or overnight hikers have begun their Maroon Bells experience in the wee hours of the morning, filling up the parking lot before the rest of us have even thought of getting out of bed. When this happens, the road is closed to private vehicles in advance of 8am. The road is subject to closure at anytime due to overcrowding. *Leaf peepers visiting on peak foliage weekends in late September/ early October should anticipate this being the case, and plan alternate visits accordingly.*
2018 Fall Foliage Crowd Management Plan: Peak weekends in September, (9/15-9/16. 9/22-9/23, 9/29-9/30) when parking is expected to be full at the Scenic Area as well as at the Highlands parking lot due to fall foliage viewing, the Buttermilk lot will provide free, overflow parking. RFTA buses will shuttle passengers for free from the Buttermilk Ski area to Aspen Highlands to catch the Maroon Bells buses.
Forest Service Kiosk at Aspen Highlands: 970.925.3445. Maroon Bells Parking & Scenic Area Information Hotline at 970-945-3319 to get current information.
Maroon Bells Opening & Closing Dates
Previous Opening Date:
May 11, 2018
May 13, 2017
May 15, 2016
May 15, 2015
May 16, 2014
May 21, 2013
Previous Years Closing Date:
November 15, 2017
November 21, 2016
November 15, 2015
November 15, 2014
November 15, 2013
There is a $10 recreation use fee for driving to the Maroon Bells. Cash or check only. If you have these season passes you will not need to pay the fee. The National Parks pass WITH a Golden Eagle Sticker, Golden Access, America the Beautiful and Maroon Bells Passes allow access to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area for the season. The Forest Service staffs the entrance station from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Passes are not valid when the road is restricted to motorized vehicles from 8am - 5pm.
Restricted Times for Driving
Due to the large amount of interest in the Maroon Bells, you can not drive to the Maroon Bells from 8am - 5pm. You must take the bus. See below for exceptions.
Exceptions for Driving
- From 5:00 pm - 8:00 am the road is open to vehicles with $10 recreation use fee. Cash or check only.
- Vehicles with Handicap placard or license plate.
- Vehicles with Disability license plate.
- Permanently disabled national pass.
- Horse trailers.
- Vehicles with 12 people or more, in same vehicle, $3/person.
- Vehicles with infants that require a restraining child seat (2 or younger) *Booster seats do not qualify.
- People camping at Silver Bar, Silver Bell & Silver Queen Campgrounds.
Date Exceptions to Driving
- When the road to the Maroon Bells opens until Mid June when the buses start running.
- October 2, 2017 - until weather permits you can drive any day of the week.
- Once the road closes until it opens back up the only way to get to the Maroon Bells is to hike (12 miles round trip, not recommended) .
If travel times are flexible, the best way to explore this National Forest Scenic Area is by planning your trip mid‐week and always riding the bus. Remember, Maroon Creek Road is subject to closure at any time due to overcrowding. Visitors on holiday weekends and other peak travel times (including early mornings during fall leaf season) should anticipate crowds and potential road closures due to overcrowding.
Parking at the Maroon Bells
There are 35 overnight parking spaces at the Maroon Bells for backpackers. Overnight backpackers are required to use the bus from 8am - 5pm, or until there is no parking in the morning, whichever happens first, and taxis are not allowed 8am - 5pm. Bear canisters are mandatory for the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness for overnight backpackers. These spots do fill up in the busy season, usually starting in July. You will not be allowed to park in the day use parking area. You may park in the overnight parking for up to 5 days. If you plan to stay longer you will need to park at Highlands and take the bus up or find an alternative way to get the Maroon Bells.
Bus to the Maroon Bells Overview
From either Aspen or Snowmass the easiest way to get to the Maroon Bells is by bus. From Aspen take the Castle/Maroon bus from Rubey Park to Highlands. If you are coming from Snowmass or Downvalley just go directly to Highlands and park for $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends. At Highlands you will need to buy tickets at Four-Mountain Sports for the bus tour to Maroon Bells. The bus will pick you up right outside Four-Mountain Sports and drive you to the Maroon Bells.
You must catch the bus to the Maroon Bells at Aspen Highlands. Dogs are allowed on the bus. You can drive to Aspen Highlands or take a bus from downtown Aspen to Aspen Highlands. If you have questions regarding the bus service please call RFTA (Roaring Fork Transit Authority) at 970.925.8484.
Aspen Highlands to Maroon Bells
|Maroon Bells Bus Tour from Aspen Highlands to the Maroon Bells|
|Bus Season:||June 9 - October 8, 2018.|
|Departure Location:||Outside Four-Mountain Sports at the base of Aspen Highlands|
8:00 am to 9:00 am: Every 20 minutes - Express Bus*
Last Bus departs Maroon Lake Day Use Area at 5:00 pm
|2018 Rates:||Adults $8; Children 6-16 $6; Seniors $6; Children 5 and under are Free|
A $0.50 Forest Service recreation fee is part of the RFTA bus fee. This fee goes towards repairs, maintenance, improvements, and education.
|Ticket Purchase:||Four-Mountain Sports in Aspen Highlands Village|
Rubey Park Transit in Aspen
|Where to Park:||Aspen Highlands (Parking Limited)|
24 hour parking
$20 Full Day
$25 Full Day
Downtown Aspen to Aspen Highlands
|Castle Ridge / Maroon Bells Bus from Aspen to Aspen Highlands. This bus will get to you the parking lot at Aspen Highlands where you can then catch a bus to the Maroon Bells.|
|Bus Season:||Year Round|
|Departure Location:||Rubey Park, Aspen|
|Departure Time:||Three times every hour, :00 :20 :40|
Map of the Aspen Highlands where you park to catch the bus.
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