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How to get to the Maroon Bells Wilderness

and what to do once you are there

One of the most iconic mountain destinations in all of North America, the Maroon Bells Wilderness is an easy day trip for those staying in the Aspen Snowmass area. Families with small children will love how easy it is to access some of the best views, while serious backcountry enthusiasts will appreciate the trailhead access as a jumping off point for some epic adventures. 

But first. How do you get there? The best piece of advice is . . . leave your car behind. Instead, hop on a free Village Shuttle to the Intercept Lot/Hwy 82, then transfer to a free RFTA bus toward Aspen. Transfer to the Castle Maroon bus at the Maroon Creek stop at the Aspen roundabout, or at Aspen's Rubey Park Transit Center. The Castle Maroon bus leaves Rubey Park every twenty minutes from the top of the hour. It's $8/person. 

Between 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. June 9 through October 8, 2018, the bus service is the only way to enter Maroon Bells Wilderness. If you plan to drive, you must enter before 8:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. There is a $10 cash/check entrance fee for vehicles, and parking is not guaranteed as it is extremely limited.

Note to cyclists! Because there is no vehicle traffic except the buses between 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., the Maroon Bells Wilderness road makes for a great road ride! It's a 9 mile route with 1,600 ft. of elevation gain. You can even get to the bottom of the road on the RFTA bus and ride from there. 

So what do you do once you arrive? 

  • Hike the 1.7 mile nature loop around the lake - great for kids!
  • Hike the 3.6 mile RT to Crater Lake
  • Have a picnic and enjoy the views (pack out your trash!)
  • Head out into the Wilderness for a longer hike if you are prepared and know your route. Destinations include Crested Butte, the Four-Pass Loop, three fourteeners, and more. If you haven't appropriately researched and come prepared for these hikes, do not attempt them.

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