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April 25, 2006
From journal Aspen in the Summer
July 21, 2005
The parking is very limited at the Visitors’ Center, so a shuttle bus from Aspen Highlands is the only way to get to Maroon Bells during the day other than cycling. The bus costs six dollars per person, but you get a guided tour of the points of interest along the way. The small Visitors’ Center has some exhibits on the flora and fauna of the area, as well as restrooms and a water fountain (you would be advised to bring bottled water to avoid dehydration in the dry high altitude. There are no concessions or bottled water for sale there.)
We arrived at Maroon Bells on the most perfect summer day you could imagine; not a cloud in the sky, the sun warm, the breeze pleasant. I had hoped to hike the Maroon Creek Trail, which was advertised as a 4.5-mile downhill hike, bordering the creek. When we arrived, we learned that a bridge was under construction and that the trail was closed about a mile down. I was very disappointed, but the volunteer ranger suggested that we try the Scenic Loop Trail, about 2.2 miles around. Once we started on this trail, we couldn’t imagine that anywhere else could have been more beautiful. We were told that this summer was particularly good for wildflowers; the variety, colors, and sheer numbers were astounding! I recognized a few species like daisies, but most were unfamiliar to a flatlander like me! One particular tall, white flowered plant only blooms once every 50 years; they attracted numerous hummingbirds which flitted from bloom to bloom.
We wound our way up an easy hill to a rushing waterfall, and enjoyed the cool mist on a small wooden bridge. As we ascended, the wildflower varieties changed; we found my favorite wildflower, the columbine, enjoying the shade next to the stream. We walked by a pond where a beaver colony has maintained their dam for a least 60 years! I stopped frequently to photograph these incredible nature scenes, trying in vain to capture the all the elements of what I could see and feel in one shot!
After several exquisite hours, we strolled back to catch our bus. I would really like to see the Maroon Bells in all seasons; it’s certainly a great reason to visit Aspen!
From journal Aspen Summertime Weekend
February 6, 2003
We had been told these were the most photographed mountains in North America and can see why. It is a short drive up to the park and nature area. At the foot of the peaks is a small lake and stream.
There is a parks service building near the lake along with restroom facilities. There is a hiking trail that will take you for as long or short of a loop as you want.
There was a large beaver lodge and lots of beaver activity around the lake. We could hear and see them all over. There is another trail that leads across and follows the stream.
From journal Aspen - not just for skiing