Everything You Need To Know about the Maroon Bells

Published by at under Outdoor Activities

Just outside of Aspen, Colorado, tucked away in breathtaking White River National Forest lands, are two of the most photographed mountain peaks in North America – the Maroon Bells. Standing at more than 14,000 feet, the two peaks – part of the Elk Mountains – are known as Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. This week, our blog crew takes a closer look everything you need to know about Maroon Bells.

 Maroon Lake, surrounded by fields of wildflowers, mirrors images of the Maroon Bells in its waters.


Maroon Lake, surrounded by fields of wildflowers, mirrors images of the Maroon Bells in its waters.

Quick Facts About Maroon Bells:

  • The two peaks at Maroon Bells are only separated by about a third of a mile
  • The two mountains are on the border between Pitkin and Gunnison County
  • The road up to the Maroon Bells is closed in the winter
  • The road typically opens in mid- to late-May depending on weather
  • The easiest access to Maroon Bells in the summer is by bus
  • In the summer, the road is also open to bicycles, hikers, rollerbladers, longboarders and skateboarders, so be cautious of others
  • Depending on weather, the road typically closes in November for the winter season

The Maroon Bells are also known as “The Deadly Bells” due to its fragile geological composition. It earned that distinction in 1965 when eight people died in five separate accidents.

The Bells were formed millions of years ago, composed of metamorphic sedimentary mud-stone that hardened into rock. Mud-stone is weak and fractures easily, causing dangerously loose rock along almost any route. The mud-stone composition is what gives the Bells its distinctive maroon color.

The mudstone composition is what gives the Bells its distinctive maroon color.

The mud-stone composition is what gives the Bells its distinctive maroon color.

What You Need To Know:

  • Maroon Bells is a beautiful, breathtaking adventure. In the summertime, many guests enjoy taking a bus tour up to the Bells. At the top, Maroon Lake provides a picturesque mountain setting. Don’t forget your camera or smartphone! The views of Maroon Bells from here are amazing. There’s picnic areas at the top, as well as bathrooms that are open daily during the summer season.
  • To get to the top, take the Castle/Maroon RFTA bus from the Rubey Park bus station in downtown Aspen. The bus is free and departs every 20 minutes starting on the hour.
  • Take the Castle/Maroon bus to Aspen Highlands and then transfer to the Maroon Bells bus at Aspen Highlands. FYI – There is free parking available at Aspen Highlands.
  • Guests can purchase bus tickets to the Maroon Bells bus for $6 inside Four Mountain Sports ($3 on Wednesdays).
  • If you have questions regarding RFTA bus service, please call the Roaring Fork Transit Authority at (970) 925-8484.
  • You are welcome to drive your own car. The charge is $10 per vehicle fee.
  • In the winter getting to the Maroon Bells can be quite an adventure.  Since Maroon Creek Road is closed to vehicular traffic the only way to get there is to cross country ski or go on a snowmobile tour run by T-Lazy 7 Ranch. Either way you choose will be an incredible experience with unparalleled  views.

For seasonal road closures and camping information contact the US Forest Service at (970) 925-3445.

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