Colorado, Colorado Bucket List, Colorado Destinations

Colorado Bucket List: fall colors at the Maroon Bells

While finally getting to see Independence Pass (which I’ve talked about in my last two posts) was lovely, the real reason for our weekend trip was because I had secured us an entrance permit for the Maroon Bells. These two iconic 14ers are the centerpiece of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area near Aspen, Colorado.

This was our third trip to the Bells; the first was two summers ago to witness a Maroon Bells sunrise and hike to Crater Lake. The second was when we backpacked the Four Pass Loop last September. This time, it was to see these beautiful mountains accentuated by the bright yellow hues of a Colorado autumn.

The town of Aspen is aptly named, making this part of the state an especially beautiful place to visit in when the leaves are turning. We were a little early; quite a few leaves were still green. But I didn’t care. The bright yellow sections were lovely and added vibrant color to an already unbelievably beautiful location.

This is the fourth post I’ve written about the Maroon Bells and three of these four are part of my “Colorado bucket list” series. And sure, this bucket list is based on my personal opinions. But I think many people would agree with me that the Maroon Bells are a must-see. As you drive along the entrance road, the Bells are concealed by the surrounding scenery. But all of a sudden, you round a bend and there they are. It was a view that knocked my socks off the first time I saw it, and it took my breath away all over again this time around. The mountains had received a fresh dusting of snow the night before and the lingering storm clouds were just beginning to lift. In short, our autumn Maroon Bells sunrise experience was everything I’d hoped it would be!

From here, I’ll just let my photos do the talking. Fair warning: there are a lot of them.

Maroon Lake and the Maroon Bells
First rays of sun on the Maroon Bells
Views from the trail alongside Maroon Lake
The Maroon Bells are certainly the highlight, but don’t forget to turn around and see the early morning sun on the other mountains as well
Final glimpse of the Maroon Bells from Maroon Lake Road

You can read my other posts about the Maroon Bells area here.

Other items on my Colorado bucket list can be found here.


The Important Stuff:

  • Getting there: Maroon Lake is at the end of Maroon Creek Road outside of Aspen, CO. Vehicle access is highly restricted; most access is by bus (more info here) and the road is closed in the winter
  • Fees and passes: due to COVID and other usage restrictions, you must have a reservation for either parking (at Maroon Lake) or the shuttle (departs from Aspen) in order to enter the Maroon Bells; more info can be found here
  • Hiking: none needed for this view!
  • Where to stay: camping is very limited in the area and fills up extremely quickly… definitely have a back up plan if you don’t have a reservation
  • Other: please stay on the trails, obey closure signs, and don’t step over the ropes… the Maroon Lake ecosystem desperately needs time to recover from years of getting loved to death

39 thoughts on “Colorado Bucket List: fall colors at the Maroon Bells”

  1. A beautiful spot Diana. I am with you though. When you see the beauty in front, turn around and look behind to see what is going on there, especially if you will not be hiking back that way. Cheers. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think getting to the Maroon Bells for sunrise might still rank as the earliest I ever woke up and was excited to do so! I know you guys often rise early to get to trailheads (and parking), but I am typically a morning wimp. Getting up that day in Aspen and heading out for sunrise and a crisp morning hike was amazing! Your photos are perfect reminders of that day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many colors like the rainbow! Fall at the Maroon Bells looks to be a must when visiting Colorado during that time of year. You don’t get huge changes like that in California (especially in urban Los Angeles), so to be able to escape the metropolitan area for some “real four seasons” can be so refreshing on the mind and body!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing the morning’s beautiful progression, Diana. We have yet to see these iconic 14ers. We never made it there before the reservation system and I have to admit to fearing being there with crowds of other people. What was your experience in that regard?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, such beautiful photos and mountain views, Diana. Fall is one of the best times to tour the Rockies in order to see the splashes of yellow, orange and red all mingle along rolling country roads and cover its beautiful landscapes. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

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