The Maroon Bells are popular for a good reason. Their unique beauty begs for Instagram and selfies, and the area's trails offer a portal to raw, pristine wilderness.
But with popularity comes added responsibility from all of us. The diverse ecosystems that define the area's beauty and tranquility are fragile and easily disturbed. Because of this, Aspen Snowmass, the U.S. Forest Service, the Aspen Resort Chamber Association, and local residents of the Roaring Fork Valley ask that you treat this special place as if it were your own backyard. That means ...
Leave No Trace
"Take only picture and leave only footprints" may sound cliché at this point, but there is really no better way to put it. If we are to preserve the Maroon Bells and its delicate natural surroundings, we need to leave no trace of our presence when we leave. In fact, the ecosystems of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area are so fragile, even our footprints can leave a lasting impact. So ...
Stay on Marked Trails
This guidance pertains to every part of the area, but especially in the tundra ecosystem above treeline. "Social trails" (i.e. informal paths caused by careless hikers) can leave scars on the tundra for decades. That's because the organisms that thrive in the tundra operate on a different growth cycle. They are slow to take root, slow to regenerate, and particularly prone to disturbances. At lower altitudes, social trails can cause additional problems, such as leading hikers astray. The solution? Follow marked paths and above treeline, look for rock cairns (i.e. human-made rock pyramids) to stay on course.
Pack Out Everything
From plastic bags to biodegradable refuse (yes, even apple cores), you MUST take out everything you bring in to the area. Trash has a major negative impact on the ecosystems of the Maroon Bells. It can contaminate the groundwater, lakes and streams. It can be ingested by animals large and small. It can damage the unique and fragile flora that grows here. And it is unsightly. Pack it in? Take it out. Fines can and will be levied to those who litter.
Do Not Approach (and Definitely Don't Feed) Wildlife
The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area (and the ecosystems that surround it) are home to a variety of large animals including red fox, coyotes, raccoons, porcupines, bobcat, mountain lion, black bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk and moose. If you encounter any of these animals, view them from a safe distance. Moose can be especially aggressive if approached, particularly mothers with newborn calves. Bull moose and bull elk can be aggressive during the fall "rut" season. For hooved animals, it is advised that you maintain a safe distance of 50 yards minimum at all times and all seasons. For black bears and wild cats, a greater distance is required. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is an excellent resource for information on safely encountering Colorado's wildlife.
And one more thing: We get it. The little chipmunk on the rock next to you at lunch is cute, but she needs to find her own food. Animals that rely on handouts from humans often die from poor diet, and/or an inability to find their own food in colder seasons when people are less common. Keep the PBJ for yourself, and pick up any food that falls on the ground.
Keep Pets on a Leash
While we fully understand that your dog would love to enjoy the freedom of the wilderness, all pets must be on a leash at all times in the Maroon Bells area. Unleashed pets can cause stress to local animal populations and their footprints can lead to the degradation of plants. Their waste can also be harmful, so please bring bags to pack out all poop.
People from around the world visit the Maroon Bells to enjoy their peacefulness and tranquility. Uncontrolled pets can disturb the peace, so make sure to keep your pets on leash at all times, for the enjoyment of everyone.
Interested in Volunteering?
Protecting the Bells is a team effort. Aspen Snowmass is proud to be a partner with the following organizations who have worked tirelessly to preserve, protect and maintain the fragile ecosystems of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area. Volunteer with them this year — the rewards are immense!
If you're visiting Maroon Bells, you may also enjoy sightseeing on Aspen Mountain and Snowmass. Our Sightseeing Package offers 3 days of gondola access as well as several perks to make the most of your trip to the high country.
From the heart of downtown Aspen, the Silver Queen Gondola delivers guests to the peak at 11,200 feet, where endless vistas and flower-laden hiking trails await. From Snowmass Base Village, the Elk Camp Gondola sweeps through the trees and ends amid Lost Forest and Snowmass Bike Park, where adventure awaits you. At the top of the world, it’s easier to find your center.
Sightseeing Package - $39
3 days of gondola and chairlift rides (valid 3 of 7 days) at Aspen Mountain's Silver Queen Gondola or Snowmass's Elk Camp Gondola
$10 lunch credit at Sundeck Restaurant* (top of Aspen Mountain), Ajax Tavern (base of Aspen Mountain), or Elk Camp Restaurant (top of Elk Camp Gondola at Snowmass)
1 free glass of house wine or draught beer with purchase of pizza at Limelight Lounge in Aspen or Snowmass
20% off bike rentals at Four Mountain Sports***
20% off Intro to Downhill and Downhill Skills Clinic
* Please note: The Sundeck Restaurant at the top of Aspen Mountain will be under construction during summer 2020. Click here for the most up to date information about our offerings during your visit.
*** 20% off bike rentals at Four Mountain Sports does not include downhill bikes or e-bikes **** September 11 through October 4, the gondolas and chairlift operate Friday – Sunday only. The Maroon Bells bus tour will operate 7 days a week until October 4.