Maroon Bells

  • Approaching Willow Pass - © Calvin Dotsey
  • Maroon Lake - © Calvin Dotsey
  • Aspen trees - © Calvin Dotsey
  • Crater Lake - © Calvin Dotsey
  • The trail to Willow Pass - © Calvin Dotsey
  • Nice view - © Calvin Dotsey
  • Willow Pass, with view of Willow Lake - © Calvin Dotsey

Key information: Maroon Bells

  • Wonderful walking. Getting more information together is a high priority for us.
  • In the meantime, a huge THANK YOU to Calvin Dotsey for his thoughts below and gorgeous photos. 

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating83
  • Beauty33
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest1
  • Charisma33
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating83

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

Crater Lake - © Calvin Dotsey


Name: Calvin
Posted on: 02/04/2016
I had an amazing time hiking through the Maroon Bells last summer (2015). 

My favorite hike was up to Willow Pass. You begin at Maroon Lake, which is very picturesque to begin with, and hike through Aspen dominated woods to Crater Lake, which is similar to Maroon Lake but even more impressive because it is closer to the mountains. You then climb through the forest, with occasional clearings offering spectacular views of the mountains. Once you get above the tree line, you hike through scrub land and cross a little stream at one point. Eventually, you leave all vegetation behind. This is where it gets hard, as the air is so thin. You have to climb up switchbacks to the top of the pass. I had to stop to catch my breath every dozen steps or so. But, when you make it to the top, the view is completely worth the effort. You can see the valley you hiked up stretching out before you on one side, and a wide, expansive plain with a small, intensely blue lake lying ahead. Many people continue on to the lake and camp there, but I needed to head back so I returned the way I came. Round trip was about seven hours, and I missed the last bus back to Aspen and had to get a ride from a nice family from Pennsylvania.

 It's best to stay in Aspen if you are visiting the Maroon Bells. Buses run daily from Aspen to the Maroon Bells and back. Aspen is a lovely, walk-able town with many excellent restaurants. It may have a reputation for being pricey, but there is a hostel there that provides more affordable accommodations (they also have a piano there, which is nice if you play). In the summer, Aspen also hosts one of the biggest classical music festivals in the US, which includes a number of free concerts from very talented student musicians. 

I recommend visiting in the summer. I went in August and the weather was perfect - even a little chilly as night. It was a nice change from my native Houston!

Walkopedia says: Thanks, Calvin! Sounds like we need to work on a Willow Pass page!

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Willow Pass, with view of Willow Lake - © Calvin Dotsey

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Nice view - © Calvin Dotsey...

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