Golden Aspens at Maroon Bells

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September 30th 2012
Published: October 2nd 2012
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Our Family at Maroon BellsOur Family at Maroon BellsOur Family at Maroon Bells

The aspens have turned gold, and the view at Maroon Bells is stunning.
The Colorado Rocky Mountains are covered in pine and steaked with aspen trees. In late September, all the aspens change to gold. They're striking against the contrast of the dark pines. Most of the locals set aside a day to drive up and see the changing aspens. We're no different. This year, we decided to make the drive up to Aspen.

The most photographed place in Colorado is Maroon Bells, located just outside of Aspen. We drove up Maroon Creek Road to head to Maroon Bells. A sign announced that the road would be closed up ahead except for buses. We pulled over, and I called our hotel to ask how to proceed. The assistant manager there told me we needed to catch a bus at Aspen Highlands, near the sign. He said it would be $6 per person. We drove around the area, and the only thing we saw was a sign for a "highland shuttle." It was very confusing. During one pass, we saw a line of cars drive up the road, past road closure ahead sign. Andrew reasoned that we might catch the bus up ahead, near the road closure.

The road closure was actually a
Oliver Cared Only for MudOliver Cared Only for MudOliver Cared Only for Mud

He wasn't interested in the beauty of Maroon Bells. He was only interested in the mud.
national park booth. The man running the booth was turning around vehicles but letting buses through. I think cars must get to go through during other times of the year. It's probably too busy in autumn to let all the cars through. We drove to the booth to ask where we catch the bus. Instead, the guy looked into our car and saw the kids. He told us that people with kids under 3 are exempt from the bus rule, and we could pay $10 for our car (cash or check only) to go through. The man was so friendly to us, but he also was exasperated at all the people who, as he put it, somehow managed to miss the big sign that only buses could go through. I wanted to tell him that there was no sign directing people to buses, but I decided not to make an issue of it.

The drive up to Maroon Bells was picturesque. It's forever ingrained in my mind. The aspens grew tall and, at some parts, touched over the road. They created a tunnel, and we drove below the aspens. Their golden leaves rained down on the car when the
Joanna and MeJoanna and MeJoanna and Me

Here I am with my little girl at Maroon Bells.
wind blew. Really, it was just absolutely magestic.

There were dozens and dozens of cyclists biking up the road to Maroon Bells. We also passed a few people doing what I would describe as autumn cross-country skiing on wheels. They had long, ski-like attachments on their feet, but the "skis" had wheels. They pushed along using poles. I'm just guessing, but I think they were training for cross-country skiing. Oh! There was also one man motoring along the road in his electric scooter. I've never seen anything like that before.

Maroon Bells was the perfect choice for our family with small kids. Of course, having the little ones with us meant we got to drive. More than that, the "hike" was the perfect length for our nearly-three-year-old. It was about a quarter mile on mostly paved sidewalk. When we reached the beach of Maroon Lake, it was like we stepped into a postcard. Really, no wonder Maroon Bells is the most photographed place in Colorado. Is it touristy? Sure. But that doesn't make it any less stunning.

In front of us was Maroon Lake. Beyond the lake were snowcapped peaks. On either side of us were smaller
Oliver and Joanna at Maroon BellsOliver and Joanna at Maroon BellsOliver and Joanna at Maroon Bells

Could they be any cuter? Could the scenery be more stunning?
mountains, their peaks below treeline. Those mountains were covered in golden aspens and evergreens. Actually, many of the aspens were bare, but that didn't take away from the beauty of the place. I think we were a few days to a week past peak viewing time for the changing aspens at that altitude. Yet, it was breathtaking.

Oliver wasn't as interested in the views as he was in the mud. The beach was muddy, and he enjoyed digging his fingers into it. If it wasn't so chilly, I would have let him play for an hour up there. Instead, we stayed for about thirty minutes. It was enough for us to take in the scenery, snap dozens of pictures to try to remember the views, and play in the mud. Oh, and on the drive down, we passed the man in the electric scooter again. Good for him.

Additional photos below
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Andrew and Joanna Andrew and Joanna
Andrew and Joanna

It was a little cold, but everything else about the trip up to Maroon Bells was perfect.
Holy Scenery, Batman!Holy Scenery, Batman!
Holy Scenery, Batman!

It looks like he's painting in front of a painting. The views at Maroon Bells were incredibly picturesque. It's the only way to describe it.
Get Used to ItGet Used to It
Get Used to It

Oliver got smooches from Mom.
Electric ScooterElectric Scooter
Electric Scooter

This man got up to Maroon Bells using his electric scooter. Good for that guy. It was a good day for it.
The drive back downThe drive back down
The drive back down

I took this photo from the car on the drive back down to Aspen from Maroon Bells.

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