Crater Lake – Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells is an iconic wilderness area in Colorado that is home to some of the most photographed mountains in North America. I’ve wanted to visit Maroon Bells since moving to Colorado in 2020, and my husband and I finally got the chance to go the second weekend of October.

From May to October, peak season at Maroon Bells, you need a reservation to enter the wilderness area. You can either get a reservation to drive into Maroon Bells and park there yourself, or a reservation to park in Aspen and take the shuttle. We weren’t able to snag a parking reservation but we did book a spot on an 11am Saturday shuttle.

Maroon Bells is about 3.5-4 hours from Colorado Springs, so we got up bright and early to make our way to Aspen. We arrived in Aspen early enough to spend about an hour grabbing coffee and exploring the town a bit. There was a farmer’s market going on which we strolled through, and we also popped into a couple shops. We ended up parking in the garage at Aspen Highlands Village which was pretty expensive but very convenient. The shuttle system was very straightforward, and soon we were pulling up to one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen in person.

We decided to take the less than 4 mile out-and-back trail to Crater Lake. The trail begins gradually ascending through a gorgeous aspen grove before heading into a forested area. The trail gets pretty rocky for the last half mile or so to the lake, but is fairly easy with less than 700′ of elevation gain in total.

Crater Lake was very low when we visited given the time of year, but the views were absolutely stunning. We stopped to eat some PB&J’s before heading back down the trail to the visitor’s center. We had to wait for the return shuttle for about 10 minutes which wasn’t bad at all.

I’m so glad we took the time to visit Maroon Bells, and I’d love to return and explore it even more. Have you visited this beautiful wilderness area yet?