Maroon Bells sees another record number of visitors

Nov 29, 2017

Author Florence Williams speaks at one of the morning talks hosted by the Aspen Ideas Festival at the Maroon Bells ampitheater this summer. The scenic area again saw record visitation.
Credit Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Public Radio

The U.S. Forest Service said more than 320,000 people biked, bussed or drove to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area this season. That’s another record-setting year.


The number of visitors to the Maroon Bells has grown by about 50,000 each year for the past three seasons. This year, the most popular month was September, when more than 65,000 people took a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority shuttle to see the fall colors.

Shelly Grail is recreation manager on the Aspen Sopris Ranger District. She said the facilities at the Bells are designed to handle large crowds. Those thousands of visitors used more than a million rolls of toilet paper over the course of the season. But the ecosystem is not as durable.

“We do see continued resource impacts, primarily around the lake where everybody wants to be,” Grail said.

Forest Service officials will discuss possible improvements to signage and trails to limit that damage, according to Grail.

The number of cyclists using Maroon Creek Road continues to grow, as well. Grail said the Forest Service is still considering how to best manage the varied uses, including a possible fee to ride the popular road.