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Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness Area

Contact us to have your photos shown on the Colorado Wilderness website.

Government information and links are at the bottom of this page.

Located in Gunnison and White River National Forests

Neighboring towns: Aspen, Snowmass, Woody Creek, Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs

Free permits are needed in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area.  More...

Nothing but superlatives roll of the tongue when contemplating the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness: the beautiful symmetry of the Maroon Bells, trails leading over nine passes above 12,000 feet in elevation, the delectable hot springs of Conundrum Creek, and shimmering alpine lakes nestled at the feet of jagged peaks, six of which crest over 14,000 feet. The twin peaks of Maroon Bells are perhaps Colorado's most recognizable scene, and the surrounding wilderness is one of the most popular, both for good reason. When it comes to sheer mountain splendor, few areas compare with the Elk Mountains and Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness.

Early on Congress recognized the wilderness value of the Elk Mountains, and Maroon Bells - Snowmass was one of the five original Colorado wilderness areas designated by the 1964 Wilderness Act. That designation comprised only the most rugged core of the range, and it took the devoted efforts of Aspen conservationists to enlarge the area through 1980 Colorado wilderness legislation. These additions included such notable landmarks as Mount Sopris, Castle Peak, and the lower reaches of Conundrum Creek valley. Today Maroon Bells - Snowmass is Colorado's fourth largest wilderness.

Valleys in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness offer an exhilarating mix of aspen groves, flower-speckled meadows, and dark forests of spruce and fir. Above timberline, scraggly krummholz are the only reminder of the lush lower forests, but bountiful displays of alpine wildflowers dazzle visitors in their stead. Big game animals such as mule deer and elk still abound, but extensive residential development of the valleys around Aspen and Snowmass has greatly reduced available winter range and elk populations in particular are experiencing stress as a result.

You'll have plenty of human company in Colorado's fourth largest Wilderness. A non-wilderness road punches into the area to Maroon Lake, creating traffic jambs in summer. Climbers come in herds, despite the face that these peaks are among the most difficult to scale in the state. Caution and skill are advised, but the rewards are stupendous. The march of people is having a great impact on this area, especially the more accessible northern trails.

Size: 181,117 acres

Elevation: 7,500 to 14,265 feet

Miles of trails: 100

Year designated: 1964, 1980

Hunting areas: 43, 55

For more information contact:

Gunnison & Uncompahgre National Forests, 2250 Highway 50, Delta, CO 81416  (970)874-6600 Forest Headquarters
This e-mail will be distributed to the correct Ranger District.
Grand Valley Ranger District, PO Box 330, 218 High Street, Collbran, CO 81624  (970)487-3534
Gunnison Ranger District, 216 N. Colorado, Gunnison, CO 81230  (970)641-0471
Ouray Ranger District, 2505 S. Townsend, Montrose, CO 81401  (970)240-5400
Paonia Ranger District, PO box 1030, North Rio Grande Ave., Paonia, CO 81428  (970)527-4131
Gunnison Ranger District, PO Box 89, Lake City, CO 81235  (970)641-0471 or (970)944-2500
Grand Valley Ranger District, 2777 Crossroads Blvd., Grand Junction, CO 81506  (970)242-8211
Norwood Ranger District, PO Box 388, 1760 Grand Ave., Norwood, CO 81423  (970)327-42261

For more information contact:

White River National Forest, 900 Grand Ave., PO Box 948, Glenwood Spgs, CO 81602  (970)945-2521  Fax:(970)945-3266  Supervisor's Office
Aspen District, 806 West Halam, Aspen, CO 81611  (970)925-3445  Fax:(970)925-5277  Aspen District
Blanco District, 317 East Market St., Meeker, CO 81641  (970)878-4039  Fax:(970)878-5173  Blanco District
Dillon District, 680 River Parkway, PO Box 620, Silverthorne, CO 80498  (970)468-5400  Fax:(970)468-7735  Dillon District
Eagle District, 125 West Fifth St., PO box 720, Eagle, CO 81631  (970)328-6388  Fax:(970)328-6448  Eagle District
Holy Cross District, 24747 US Hwy 24, PO Box 190, Minturn, CO 81645  (970)827-5715  Fax:(970)827-9343  Holy Cross District
Rifle District, 0094 County Rd 244, Rifle, CO 81650  (970)625-2371  Fax:(970)625-2532  Rifle District
Sopris District, 620 Main St., PO Box 309, Carbondale, CO 81623  (970)963-2266  Fax:(970)963-1012  Sopris District

Wilderness sunset

NOTE: coloradowilderness.com gratefully appreciates the eloquent descriptions of our wilderness areas provided by Mark Pearson, author of "The Complete Guide to Colorado's Wilderness Areas", Westcliffe Publishers, Englewood, CO. The book also contains many beautiful pictures by renowned photographer and Colorado resident John Fielder.


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