Most-Photographed Colorado Mountains: Maroon Bells

Located just minutes outside of Aspen, Colorado, the Maroon Bells are widely known as the most-photographed mountains in Colorado (arguably North America). Set behind the beautiful Maroon Lake, the Maroon Bells are comprised of red mudstone. While this deep red clay and mud is easy to distinguish, the soft and crumbly material proves difficult for climbers to hike, making the Maroon Peaks some of the most grueling fourteeners to summit.

But we didn’t set out to climb the Maroon Peaks. We set out to hike around the gorgeous lake and take a cliche photo (or 100) of the most-photographed mountains in (most likely) North America. And alongside many others, capture cliche photos we did.

If you’re eager to see as much of the Bells as possible—like us—you’ll want to visit them throughout the day. Our first trip was just after noontime via shuttle. Next, we drove up ourselves during golden hour to catch the sunset. Last, we dragged our butts out of bed at 5 a.m. to witness the Bells during sunrise. The verdict: while the Maroon Bells are gorgeous any time of day, they are particularly enchanting during the early hours of the morning (just before sunrise) when the soft light trickles its way down the slopes, lovingly painting the peaks in a rosy glow.

The iconic Maroon Bells in the early morning light.
The iconic Maroon Bells in the early morning light.

Camping in the Colorado mountains during the summer months is glorious: it never gets too hot and the sound of nature envelopes you from all sides.  If planning on camping close to the Maroon Bells, I would recommend camping at one of three campsites: Silver Queen, Silver Bell or Silver Bar. These three campsites are closest to the Bells and provide easy biking or driving access in the early morning hours or late evening hours. If lodging farther away, be sure to take advantage of the shuttle bus that departs from the Aspen Highlands and takes you directly to Maroon Bells. The shuttle-bus drivers are knowledgable and provide interesting information about the formation of the Peaks.

*Note that the shuttle is the only way to get to Maroon Bells during the peak season: June 9 and October 8, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.  If you plan on driving to Maroon Bells, be sure to do so before or after the listed shuttle hours.

Now go out and get your own Maroon Bells photo so these Colorado Peaks can keep their status as most-photographed peaks in North America!

Until next time,

Leah Pinkus

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