Visitors coming from the Aspen side of Maroon Bells will once again need reservations to get to the scenic area this season.
For the second year in a row, reservations are required to access the Maroon Bells Scenic Area by personal vehicle or Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) bus. The road to the area opens in mid-May, though the exact date depends on snow conditions.
The reservation system was used in 2020 and will continue into 2021 due to ongoing COVID-19 social distancing requirements. This system also helps manage demand to visit the scenic area, while also protecting it.
Reservations will become available starting April 12. If you want to secure a spot, save this link for that date. Parking reservations start at $10. They can be made for half days, whole days and overnights. You are allowed to have somebody take a personal vehicle up the road to drop you off between 6-8 a.m. and leave without a reservation. However, visitors who take this option will need a one-way ticket to ride the shuttle back down to Aspen Highlands after 8 a.m. These one-way downhill tickets were free last year, but will cost $10 this year due to a spike in use. Remember to buy this ahead of time as there's no cell service at Maroon Bells and tickets can't be purchased from the bus drivers.
The RFTA bus will run from June 7 through October 17 or 24, depending on weather conditions. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shuttle costs $16 per person with a proposed discounted fares of $10 for children under 12 years old and seniors over age 65. Actual pricing for these groups will be confirmed by April 8. Masks are required on the bus. Seats may be limited. If you'd like to take this option, make a reservation ahead of time as any no-show tickets that become available will be pricier. You can park your vehicle at Aspen Highlands for a fee, or catch the free RFTA shuttle from Ruby Park in downtown Aspen to Aspen Highlands.
The road up to Maroon Bells has also seen an increase in bicyclists, especially e-bikes. While allowed, all bicyclists should remember to ride single file on the right side off the road in the direction of traffic. Bikes are available to rent in downtown Aspen or the Aspen Highlands Base Camp.
These reservations only apply to those coming to visit Maroon Bells from the Aspen side. Hikers can also access the area for free and without a reservation from the western side with a longer hike from the Crested Butte area.
For more information on the reservation system, call the Maroon Bells Information Line at 970-945-3319.