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The Ultimate Guide to Maroon Bells in Summer

18 Jun 2024
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Each year, Maroon Creek Road opens to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area in late spring or early summer and remains open until early October. The Maroon Bells are among the most iconic and picturesque destinations in North America. Known for their stunning beauty, these twin peaks attract nature enthusiasts, photographers, and adventurers from all over the world. Visiting Maroon Bells in summer offers a unique experience, with lush landscapes, blooming wildflowers, and clear blue skies.

This guide to Maroon Bells in Summer time will provide you with all the essential information you need to plan your trip. This includes hiking trails, tips for visiting, and also nearby vacation rentals with Aspen Alps vacation rentals to ensure you have the perfect place to stay while visiting.

Getting to Maroon Bells in Summer

Location and Access

Maroon Bells are situated in the Elk Mountains, approximately 10 miles west of Aspen. Access to the area is via Maroon Creek Road, which opens in mid-May and closes in October/mid-November, weather permitting.

During the busy summer months, driving directly to the trailhead is restricted between 8 AM and 5 PM. To visit during these hours, you must utilize the shuttle service from Aspen Highlands, which requires a reservation. Early morning and late evening visits allow for direct car access with a reserved parking permit.

Travel Tips

Reservations: Ensure you book your maroon bells shuttle bus tickets or parking permits well in advance through the Aspen Chamber website.

Timing: Arrive early in the morning to avoid crowds and catch the stunning sunrise reflections on Maroon Lake.

Weather: Be prepared for rapid weather changes, and always check the forecast before heading out.

Hiking Trails at Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells offers a variety of hiking trails suitable for all levels, from easy walks to more challenging hikes. Here are the top trails to explore:

maroon bells scenic trail

1. Maroon Lake Scenic Trail

Distance: 1 mile round trip

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Highlights: This short, accessible trail starts at the parking area and leads to Maroon Lake, providing iconic views of the Maroon Bells scenic area reflected in the water. It's perfect for families and those looking for a leisurely stroll.

2. Scenic Loop Trail

Distance: 3 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: Approx. 120 feet

Highlights: This trail takes you around Maroon Lake and through beautiful aspen groves, with the chance to see wildflowers and cascading streams. Note that dogs are not allowed on this trail due to moose activity. This is a trail that should be on your Maroon Bells bucket list for its stunning views and wildlife interactions.

3. Maroon Creek Trail

Distance: 3.5 miles one way

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: -870 feet

Highlights: Starting from Maroon Lake, this trail follows Maroon Creek downhill, offering a quieter alternative with fewer crowds. You can spot wildlife and enjoy the serene creekside scenery.

4. Crater Lake Trail

Distance: 3.6 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Highlights: This trail extends from Maroon Lake into an aspen forest and through rocky terrain to Crater Lake, nestled at the base of the Maroon Bells. The challenging hike rewards you with breathtaking views and a tranquil setting.

crater lake trail maroon bells

5. Willow Lake Trail

Distance: 13 miles round trip

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation Gain: 3020 feet

Highlights: For experienced hikers, this trail offers a strenuous climb to Willow Pass and down to Willow Lake. The trail passes through alpine meadows and offers panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.

Best Time to Visit

Summer Months:

The best time to visit Maroon Bells is from late May to early October. During this period, the trails are clear of snow, and the landscape is vibrant with greenery and wildflowers.

Fall Foliage:

If you prefer to see the golden aspens, plan your visit for late September. This time of year is extremely popular, so expect larger crowds and book your reservations early.

Tips for a Successful Visit

1. Hydration and Altitude: The high altitude can be challenging. Stay hydrated, take it slow, and bring altitude sickness medication if necessary.

2. Wildlife Safety: Always keep a safe distance from wildlife, and carry bear spray if venturing into more remote areas.

3. Leave No Trace: Protect the natural beauty of Maroon Bells by sticking to designated trails and packing out all trash.

4. Photography: The best time for photos is early morning when the lake is calm, and the light is soft. Bring a tripod for stunning sunrise shots.

Why Stay at Aspen Alps Vacation Rentals

Located conveniently near the Maroon Bells, Aspen Alps offers luxury vacation rentals that are perfect for your summer adventure. Here’s why Aspen Alps is the ideal choice:

1. Proximity to Maroon Bells

Staying at Aspen Alps means you’re just a short drive away from the Maroon Bells trailhead, allowing you to maximize your time exploring the area.

2. Luxury and Comfort

Our vacation rentals provide all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, including fully-equipped kitchens, spacious living areas, and stunning mountain views.

3. Personalized Service

At Aspen Alps, we pride ourselves on offering personalized service to ensure your stay is memorable. Our concierge team can assist with reservations, provide local recommendations, and help plan your itinerary.

4. Recreational Facilities

Enjoy access to our on-site recreational facilities, including a fitness center, swimming pool, and tennis courts. After a day of hiking, relax in our spa and wellness center.

5. Sustainable Practices

We are committed to sustainability and eco-friendly practices, ensuring that your stay with us has a minimal impact on the environment.

aspen alps vacation rentals

Visiting Maroon Bells in summer is a magical experience, offering unparalleled natural beauty and outdoor adventure. Whether you're taking a leisurely walk around Maroon Lake or embarking on a challenging hike to Crater Lake, there's something for everyone. By staying at Aspen Alps, you’ll enjoy the perfect blend of luxury, comfort, and convenience, making your trip truly unforgettable.

Book your stay at Aspen Alps today and start planning your ultimate summer adventure to Maroon Bells. Browse the variety of stunning vacation rentals we offer to find the perfect place to stay.