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Maroon Lake Trailhead

?PARKING RESERVATION REQUIRED
You must book in-advance to get an overnight parking permit at the Maroon Lake trailhead. There are a limited number of overnight permits available and they will likely be gone/booked before summer. However, they do have a "Midnight-to-Midnight" permit which allows you to drive to the trailhead between midnight and 8am and hike the same day, leaving by midnight. Please visit this page for more information.
?CAMPING RESERVATION REQUIRED
A reservation is required to pack in and camp near Crater Lake and permits are likely gone/reserved for the summer. If you are lucky enough to get a wilderness camp permit, you still have to reserve overnight parking, or ride the shuttle between 8am-5pm, or get dropped off outside of the 8am-5pm window. If you are unable to get a camp permit, you'll have to dayhike and still deal with parking or get dropped off early in the morning. Check for wilderness camping permits at recreation.gov. For reference, check out the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Overnight Permit Zone Map
  
Posted By: supranihilest
Info: Permit BS aside, the trail to Crater Lake is clear of snow about a mile in. After that it’s a posthole filled mess to the lake. I only found one set of tracks past Crater Lake prior to Friday, but there’s now a few sets of boot/ski/snowshoe tracks. Snow conditions as of Sunday were wet and unsupportive. On the plus side, watching unprepared tourists slip and slide around and posthole like crazy is pretty entertaining. There’s also a cute fox that likes to hang out in the parking lot. Please don’t feed it, just observe it being cute.
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Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: Snowpack clear to winter gate. Small intermitten snow patches can be mountain biked from there for about 3 miles. Remaining 2+ miles entering West Maroon Creek Basin has more consistent/deeper coverage. May 24th local bus begins running to Maroon Lake.
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Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: Most Aspen leaves have fallen at Maroon Lake and Crater Lake. A lot of frozen compacted trail-ice hiking between lakes right now. Upper West Maroon Creek is flowing well with only the beginnings of ice. Early morning Saturday biked up to the Maroon Lake TH and stayed low checking out eclipse crescent moons in fresh foot of snow closer to West Maroon Pass. Heard from a buddy that hiked Crested Butte to Aspen that day West Maroon Pass loaded up quite a bit from the storm. Full sun stayed on the peaks this weekend and expected stay sunny through the week. Overnight temps mostly above freezing in the days ahead. Town of Aspen still holding great Fall Colors!
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Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: Moose were enjoying the views at Maroon Lake yesterday... Snow dusting above treeline and fall colors hanging on at the lake. TH drinking fountains were on in the afternoon. Our friends at the Forest Service Entrance said shuttle/parking permit system ends October 22nd and mentioned last day to drive a car all the way up to Maroon Lake may be November 12th depending on road conditions.
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Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: Fall Colors! drinking fountains at the trailhead were on in the morning and off in the afternoon.
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Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: A few fall colors in the valley, mostly still summer. Biked up to Maroon Lake Friday and Saturday. Went up the ridge just above Maroon Lake to 12k then down the gullies to Crater Lake..
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Posted By: The_Ramp
Info: We had two overlapping 60-hour parking reservations that allowed us to park in the Overnight Lot starting Thursday night (8/30) and leaving Sunday afternoon (9/3). Arrived Thursday night around 8pm and crashed in the back of the car in the lot for a few hours; no one bothered us. I noticed some cars in the Overnight Lot did not have any parking passes on their dashboards so not sure how much policing actually occurs. Both Day and Overnight Lots (and bike racks) were pretty full when we left Sunday.

After summiting Pyramid on Friday (9/1) we went back to car and grabbed our gear for our Crater Lake campsite #4 reservation for two nights. No issues with the site - we just left a copy of our reservation on our tent during the day. Never saw a Ranger or anyone policing the sites, but we were climbing during the day so they could’ve been making rounds when when we weren’t there. A few guys showed up Saturday night without a reservation and set up in campsite #3. The "true" owner of campsite #3 arrived and they had some discourse - the guys were clearly squatting - but there was enough room and I guess they just made it work. All campers were gone when we exited Sunday.

One guy we met on the summit of Pyramid couldn’t score a Crater Lake campsite but did get a Snowmass one. So he hoofed his gear over Buckskin Pass and started his day from over there - woof!
 
Posted By: shelly o
Info: I wanted to answer some of the questions I had after reviewing the status updates here, forum posts, and the information available on the Aspen chamber website. I called the Aspen-Sopris ranger station at 970-963-2266 and spoke to a very helpful ranger who provided the following information:

If you get a ride from someone and are being dropped off at the trailhead: a drop off after hours (ie super early morning) for climbing is no problem at all. You do not have to be within their official dropoff window (which is between 6-8am per the Aspen website, obviously not suitable for a Bells climb). No permit is required for a dropoff.

Their biggest concern is congestion between the hours of 8am-5pm because that’s when the shuttle is running and cars are not allowed to enter (at least between late May and late October).

Because of that, the ranger suggested that if someone is dropping you off, consider purchasing a 1-way shuttle ticket to take you down to Aspen Highlands where you will have cell service and can ask for a ride from there, rather than trying to get a pickup at the trailhead without cell service and where your ride will likely get turned around at the entrance anyway. Tickets are $10 and bring you to Aspen Highlands every 15 minutes until 1:00 PM, and then every 20 minutes until 5:00 PM, on a first come first serve basis. As of this update, tickets seem very available even with an upcoming holiday weekend.

There is no way to buy a parking permit last minute / in person (which I assumed but wanted to ask in case there was something I was missing). It’s 100% online. I vaguely remember pay stations there in 2017, hence the question.
 
Posted By: BillMiddlebrook
Info: After purchasing a "Midnight-to-Midnight" parking pass on recreation.gov, here are the steps I took to sleep and park before my day climb of North Maroon:

The day before my reservation/climb, I drove up the Maroon Creek road to the entrance station and asked them if there were any first come, first serve sites available at either of the campgrounds (Silver Bell and Silver Queen) up the road. They said they were full and that I’d have to go somewhere else. I drove back down the road and a few miles north to the Buttermilk Ski Area parking because I heard they allow overnight parking. There I found some RVs and plenty of vehicles that were parked overnight. I slept in the truck, woke up at 3am and drove up the Maroon Creek road to the trailhead and parked in the "Day Use Only" area. I put a copy of my parking permit on the dash and climbed North Maroon.
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Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: Hiked up an Aspen hill this morning for a good view of Pyramid. Summer colors are starting to come out all over the valley! Afterwards did some research going by US Forest Service Station and Aspen Highlands talking with the amazing team supporting one of the most beautiful places on earth! At FS check-in they will ask vehicles if they have a reservation to self-drive to the lake, to enter. FS team is very kind and helpful providing alternative ways to get to the lake on the same day if you don’t have a self-driving reservation, booked months in advance. There are a lot of permit types and options. I’m sharing helpful info for someone that may want to drive to the TH as we did in years past. Without the permit that’s now required, they recommend taking bus from Aspen Highlands to Maroon Lake (MB Highlands bus) and said cycling is also allowed to the lake.. a lot of cyclist were living the the dream! Main focus for vehicles is parking. As far as climbing... you don’t need a permit to climb the Maroon Bells or Pyramid as there isn’t a Peak Permit... it’s driving/camping considerations that pushed permits. Bus fare from Aspen Highlands covers your entry fee. If buying bus ticket at Aspen Highlands it’s $20/day. Online at AspenChamber.Org it’s $16/day, RFTA phone app not connected. Aspen Highlands parking is $40/per day or $7/hour. First bus from Aspen Highlands departs at 7AM and last bus departing from the lake is 5PM. Buses run every 15 minutes with the exception of first hour meaning an MB Highlands bus leaves at 7AM and next is 8AM, then 8:15AM, 8:30AM, 8:45AM, etc.. every 15 mins until 5PM. MB Highlands bus was sold out today being a busy weekend. The valley slows down a little after this weekend...until July 4th and then we’re in full summer season! If you’ve been thinking about getting a road bike.. today might be the day!!
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Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: Forest Service road opened all the way to the lake!
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Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: Ranch snow pile that was in the middle of the road this winter has now completely melted. road is drivable to winter gate.. that’s below the Forest Service entrance. Pavement-trek from there and very little (scatter/infrequent/ at most 3" deep) ice on the road after winter gate. saw a few bikes heading up which would have easily gotten far up the road. Aspen Public Radio: Bells opening on May 15th for driving.
 
Posted By: WillRobnett
Info: road conditions... drivable up to Ranch. winter plows create a pile of snow in the middle of the road which prevents cars from getting further and still there. melting soon. a lot of snow still in the area
 
Posted By: ClimberSkierDave64
Info: Biked up the road and then camped next to one of the bathrooms. The road has very minor patches of snow all the way until the last half mile where the snow becomes somewhat continuous and annoying.
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Posted By: angry
Info: Reservation system is seamless. Once you arrive at lot, just park in the applicable section. Overnight requires you to print your confirmation and place on dashboard.
 
Posted By: markf
Info: Parking at the Maroon Lake TH is now by reservation only. Reservations are made online at https://aspenchamber.org/plan-trip/trip-highlights/maroon-bells/reservations and are $10.
 
Posted By: Chicago Transplant
Info: Road opened Friday 5.24.19 according to the local paper.
https://www.postindependent.com/news/road-to-maroon-bells-opens-friday-independence-pass-gets-closer-as-opening-remains-on-hold/
 
Posted By: lodgling
Info: Road is closed at T Lazy 7 Ranch. There are two brief concrete patches so far. Sleds are getting past slide debris at 7 mile mark, but not past debris at 8 mile mark. Getting past that pile on foot adds a good 20 minutes or so.
 
Posted By: Conor J
Info: I had no problems getting up to the trailhead to park in overnight parking, as I arrived at around 10:30 pm, however I climbed with someone who said there was still an attendant at the booth at 7:30 pm, who was turning people away due to full overnight lots. Could be the fact that the leaves are in full swing, but be ready to be turned away potentially!
 
Posted By: madmattd
Info: Got the last legal spot in the upper overnight lot at 6:15am on Thursday 8/9. Both lower/overflow lots had filled minutes before we got there. Several "creative" parking jobs in the overnight lots when we returned Friday afternoon. Day use lot was slightly less than 1/2 full both when we arrived and when we left, noticed several cars with "notes" on their windshields and payment envelopes. Pay the parking fee before you park ($10)! (National Parks Pass accepted).
 
Posted By: wireless973
Info: Got to the entrance at around 4pm on a Monday and saw the "overnight parking full" sign. I continued to the main gate and sure enough they told me there was in fact overnight parking available. It seems they just leave that sign up all the time so you might as well drive all the way up since people are constantly coming and going from the overnight lot. When I got back from my hike at around 1 pm on Tuesday almost all of the day spots were filled but there were still overnight parking spots available even though the gate once again said it was full.
 
Posted By: BillMiddlebrook
Info: This was on a Wednesday... Reached the Maroon Lake road USFS entrance station at 3pm to find they have posted a temporary sign stating overnight hikers will be let in at 5pm if there is sufficient parking. The attendant confirmed this and told us to come back at 5pm or later in the evening when the station is unattended. However, we came back at 4:30 and the attendant said there was now enough spots so he let us pass. When we got up there the two overnight lots (West Maroon Creek Portal and general overnight) were about 1/2 empty. If you’re going on a weekend, you might want to park ($) at the bus station and take the bus up to the lake.

Also, we camped at Crater Lake site #4 and had a bear nose around our camp at night.
 
Posted By: Eli Boardman
Info: The road and parking is totally dry and open.

Just posting to say that the Silver Bell campground is open. It said online it wouldn’t open for a while, but it is in fact open now. The other campgrounds on the road are closed.
 
Posted By: TakeMeToYourSummit
Info: The road is definitely open & crawling with tourists. Pictures included to show snow levels.
 
Posted By: cloudkicker
Info: Per the Aspen Chamber website:

"Maroon Creek road is scheduled to open May 10th 2018 at 4pm."
 

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