Aspen | Maroon Bells and Crater Lake

1.30.2021 Aspen, CO 81611, USA

Just as they say, sometimes it isn't our day. Yet sometimes, a mere peek-a-boo of sun from behind the mountains in a dried up Crater lake that we can walk on gives us a ray of hope. The hope that was met with an endearing silence as it thrashed when reflections on Maroon Bells did not form on moving waters just as they had said in numerous pictures on the internet. The twin peaks above 14,000 feet that are called bells still stood tall and mighty. Besides, Aspen had a strict mask mandate both indoors and outdoors, leaving no room for worry. 

                                                        Crater Lake, A Maroon Bells Hike

While Maroon Bells are said to be the most photographed place in Colorado, during our visit I was expecting the snippet from the internet that had built up my figment of imagination to come alive and the reflections of the bells to form an iconic picture just as they had said. 

                                                    The Maroon Bells on our day!

                                       Maroon Bells as photographed by John Fowler, Flickr

The Maroon Bells are two peaks of over 14,000 feet with a scenic viewing area. Located just a few feet away from the Parking Lot, it's the easiest accessible lake. 



There are a couple of trails in and around Maroon Bells. We did the Crater Lake Trail and a little bit of Maroon Lake Scenic Trail.   

How to get to Maroon Bells - Aspen Highlands?

Meanwhile Our stay in Mountain Chalet, Aspen was no less than impeccable. It is one of the few remaining old-time ski lodges in Aspen and the decor reminds me of those cute boutique hotels from Europe. I also loved, how kind their entire staff was, and breakfast was served early in the morning before our hikes. I also loved how conveniently located it was in the city center and the buses to Highlands (Buses to Castle Maroon) runs from Rubey Park Transit Center located outside the hotel.     

We did take a little stroll in the evening in downtown Aspen. Surrounded by mountain on all sides, its a cute little place yet there was something very up class about Aspen. To me , from the outside, it felt like a posh town where vacationers come to unwind. There were numerous branded shops on the lanes (some very up class and hi end). It just gave the vibe of "Not just for common people".





The rules have been constantly changing but during our days of the visit, we had a prior booking of the Maroon Bells shuttle for 8:15 am. 

The host during our stay informed us that she has been an avid hiker herself, and the lakes have dried up but is a beautiful hike nonetheless. 

She also told us that the colors are pretty this time of the year here because there has been less rainfall but since there has been less rainfall, the lake has dried. That time we didn't pay much heed to her, because we were slightly hopeful that maybe not. She suggested we take the 7:30 am shuttle bus that leaves right outside from the hotel to Castle Maroon and we were glad we did exactly that. 



The ready to order complimentary breakfast is phenomenal in this hotel! As we were getting ready to grab a bite before we board the bus, we were served Denver omelets, some fruits, a bagel with cheese, coffee, etc. The seating arrangements at the shuttle were also done keeping social distancing in mind. 



As we reached the Aspen highlands, we went into the Aspen Highlands Center and got the original tickets from our mailed ones. Thereafter we waited for the bus. 

The ranger informed us, that there might be Moose on the trail, and wished us luck as we proceeded forward. There was social distancing on the buses and had a compulsory mask mandate, and she herself directed us to seats she allowed us. 




                      
The hike to Crater Lake

Miles: 3.8 miles.
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: Rocky

Let me begin by saying what the kid who was hiking with his parents on the route said to us, "The lake is dry", which also his parents reiterated further adding "But the hike is beautiful, you must do it!"


                    Yes guys, that's a dried up Crater Lake I am standing on...

I am not sure if the trail is kept primitive on purpose, but its a very unique hike that not only gains constant elevation initially taking us through forested areas and then through heaps of stones and broken rocks. At times I felt if it was an avalanche aftermath. All I would suggest is at times one has to be a little careful, but not enough to keeping us strained and stressed. I mean, there was not once that we had to bend over. 

















There came one point on the trail where we had no one ahead of us in vision nor behind us. And there were two diversions to take. Since there wasn't any signboard we simply chose to follow the sight of the bells ahead.

Even though the Crater Lake was all dried up, it made for a great picnic spot. And watching the sunshine over the barren land where land existed was spectacular. On our way back, just before we were nearing the end of the hike, we took the scenic trail route and came by the small lake. Overall, a great experience. 



Facts: Hikers wore masks at Crater Lake trail. Please also carry drinking water on the trail. We got down from the trail by the afternoon... 

                                           A unique kind of restrooms at trailhead start. 
                



After our hike was completed and we were back to the base and then to the hotel, we drove towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Ouray. 





4 comments

  1. very nice pics would love to visit once

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks a lot for this information proved lucky for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for the post that you’ve shared with us is really informative.

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