Not far from Aspen are the Maroon Bells. Said to be the most photographed peaks in Colorado, it's easy to see why. During the summer months the road is closed to car traffic and the Bells can only be accessed by Tour Bus. Busses run every half hour and will take you to the base of the Bells, where there is a lovely lake.
After Labor Day, passenger cars are allowed. A $10.00 day fee gives you 5 days of access to the park. The drive from highway 82 to the base of the Bells is a climb of nearly 2,000 feet. On the sunny fall Wednesday that I made this trip there were scores of cyclists and people on funny skate "skis" going up the road. Those Aspenites are certainly a healthy athletic lot!
The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness occupies 181,000 acres, containing wide basins, alpine meadows, colorful cliffs, marshy tundra resembling interior Alaska, craggy rock faces and lush evergreen groves, 7 peaks topping 14k ft and 26 over 13k ft. The area is protected under the Wilderness Act of 1964.The Maroone Bells began as iron-bearing sediments beneath an ancient sea, before they metamorphosed into red rock, lifted skyward over millions of years, then, sculpted by glaciers, produced the awesome peaks we know today.
These are the most visited and photographed mountains in Colorado, perhaps even in the entire US. The prisine waters of Maroon Lake reflect the mountains behind them, to create a classic view.
Unfortunately, this place gets extremely crowded in summer, especially on weekends. Between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, you must take the bus from nearby Rubey Park to the trailhead. Those wishing to drive there must arrive before then.
The hiking trail around Maroon Lake offers spectacular vistas. The one to Crater Lake is offers even better ones. The hike is about 3.5 miles round trip, with lots of rocks and roots. Take your time. It's well worth it.