Maroon Bells… The most photographed mountains in Colorado… Possibly all of North America



Before sunrise, photographers rush to set up their tripods and get ready for the morning photoshoot at the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado. Due to the large number of visitors, it is advisable to check with the Aspen Chamber of Commerce for the latest restrictions before visiting the region. Photo by Gary Warren /

About two or three hours after sunrise, the September breezes ceased and the Maroon Bells reflected in Maroon Lake. The lake sits at approximately 9,600 feet while each of the Maroon Peaks has an elevation of over 14,000 feet. This is what every visitor to the Maroon Bells hopes to see and photograph. Photo by Gary Warren /

Formerly of Los Alamos

Located in the White River National Forest near Aspen, Colo., Stand the most photographed mountains in Colorado. Some consider the Maroon Bells to be the most photographed mountains in all of North America. The peaks are found in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area in the White River National Forest.

South Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak are about a third of a mile apart and form the Maroon Bells. The peaks are wine or brown in color and each peak has the shape of a bell giving them their name. The two peaks are “fourteen”, which means that the peaks exceed 14,000 feet in elevation. South Maroon Peak is 14,163 feet and North Maroon Peak is 14,019 feet above sea level.

The steep slopes of both mountains are made of mudstone, a weak, loose rock that fractures easily. This makes mountaineering conditions dangerous and only experienced and expert climbers should attempt the climb without consulting an experienced guide.

Maroon Lake sits at the base of the two majestic peaks that you see from the Maroon Creek Valley. This small lake at nearly 9,600 feet allows the Maroon Bells to reflect in calm water when there is no wind to create ripples. Aspen stands cover the slopes of the lake, embellishing this beautiful work of nature.

The Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake are a 20 kilometer drive from Aspen, making the Maroon Bells Scenic Area even more popular. The region receives around 300,000 visitors each year, making a shuttle bus mandatory to enter the region during the busy season from May to October. However, visitors can drive to the area during the sunrise period, which is the best time to photograph the peaks.

Due to the enormous popularity of the area, visitors should contact the Aspen Chamber of Commerce for the latest visit restrictions. There is a cost for the shuttle as well as a cost to enter the scenic area and those numbers change from season to season and certainly every year. That being said, prepare accordingly and plan to experience some of the most beautiful and photographed scenery in the country.

Editor’s Note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn travel the country, and he shares his photographs, which appear in the “Posts from the Road” series published in the edition Sunday from the Los Alamos Daily Post.

The Maroon Bells are reflected in Maroon Lake on a lightly overcast summer sunrise. There was a light breeze this July morning which caused the lake water to ripple but not enough to spoil the reflection. The aspens which covered the landscape displayed their summery green. Photo by Gary Warren /

The meadows around the Maroon Bells explode into colorful blooms in July. In late July or early August, morning temperatures begin to affect the color and growth of wildflowers, resulting in a short peak flowering season. Photo by Gary Warren /

The first light of day finds the summit of the summits during a clear sunrise in September. Unfortunately, in the early hours of the morning that day there was a strong breeze which prevented any reflection from the peaks of Maroon Lake. That would change a few hours later that morning. Photo by Gary Warren /

A medium power zoom allows you to get a closer look at both peaks of the Maroon Bells Scenic Area. Most of the aspens in the area were already golden in color, but some trees continue to cling to their summer green color. Photo by Gary Warren /


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