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Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness (map) in 1964 and it now has a total of 181,976 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Colorado and is managed by the Forest Service.


You'll have plenty of human company in Colorado's fourth largest Wilderness. They come because this area may exemplify Rocky Mountain splendor better than any other Wilderness: 100 miles of trail lead over nine passes above 12,000 feet; vast regions lie above the tree line; long glacial valleys point the way to glistening alpine lakes. With six peaks rising above 14,000 feet, this area draws mountaineers by the thousands every year. The awesome, jagged symmetry of the Maroon Bells, reflected in Maroon Lake, is perhaps Colorado's most often photographed mountain scene. A non-Wilderness road punches into the area to Maroon Lake, creating traffic jams in summer. Climbers come in herds, despite the fact that these peaks are among the most difficult to scale in the state. Caution and skill are advised, but the rewards are stupendous. The Snowmass Creek Trail travels 16 miles to Maroon Lake and provides some of the best views of the Wilderness. Hot springs steam at the head of Conundrum Creek and attract many hikers. In midsummer, the wildflowers are arguably the best anywhere. Although elk and deer still abound in the Elk Mountains, development around Aspen and Snowmass threatens their habitat. The march of people is having a great impact on this area, especially the more accessible northern trails. The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness was established with 1964 Wilderness Act and total size now is approximately 183,500 acres. Due to the popularity of recreation in the Maroon Valley, shuttle buses operate during the summer months (approximate mid-June through Labor Day, plus weekends in September) to Maroon Lake Wilderness Portal. Overnight visitors to the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness are required to have self registered permit. This registration permit is located at the trailhead and it is non limiting and they are FREE.

Planning to Visit the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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