Beat the crowds and soak in some of the most well-known mountains in the world. If you're looking to keep your body moving, there's an option to do the 3.6 mile roundtrip, 500+ foot elevation gain hike to Crater Lake.

The Maroon Bells are known around the world for being some of the most iconic, beautiful mountains in all of the United States. Even if you haven't heard of them, there's a chance you've seen them. And if you've seen them in person, it's likely you were there with 800+ of your closest friends.

If you'd like to enjoy the Bells in solitude, without any agenda to complete some great through-hike from Crested Butte to Aspen, or soloing a Bell in winter (not recommended), there are a few general guidelines for success.

  • Go early season when the snow has just melted, but it's still really crisp out.
  • Go late in the evening, when the kids are hungry and tourists have gone back to town.
  • Go in the dead of winter, when the road is completely closed and you have to ski, snowshoe, or fatbike yourself 14 miles round-trip.

If you drove to the parking lot by Maroon Lake, hit the beginner friendly 1.8 mile trail (3.6 roundtrip), and keep going to Crater Lake. The trail branches off from the Maroon Lake Trail once you reach the Deadly Bells Kiosk. Continue on this trail, climbing the rockslide that houses Crater Like at 10,076 feet. While you're hiking up to the lake, be prepared for cooler weather and potential thunderstorms.

If you can't kick the need to backpack, continue over Maroon Pass to Frigid Air Pass and Schofield Park, just above Crested Butte where the tourists are guaranteed to thin out. The options for hiking and recreating are literally endless here, but if you want to just sit back with the view and a book or a fishing rod, now you know when to go.

Pack List

  • Favorite book
  • Adult beverage in non-glass container
  • Hammock or camp chair
  • Camera
  • Fishing pole (and permit)
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Activities Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers

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relaxing.

in the winter the trail is "groomed" by the ranch where the road ends. if cross country skiing, try to get going early as hikers and snow machines will wear down the snow all day long, but its an amazing ski both ways! so much fun!

Stunning!

This is a must see if you're in this part of Colorado. Between 8am-5pm you need to take the shuttle to Maroon Lake. If you go before 8am or after 5pm you can drive directly to the lake. Go early to attempt to beat the crowds and definitely do the hike to Crater Lake!! Bring your camera.

Sunrise!

By far the best time to view these majestical mountains is at sunrise! The glow on the Bells is spectacular, and then watch the entire valley slowly fill with light. Plus, there are far fewer tourists at this time ;)


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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