#17: Maroon Bells
If you crave the picture-book Colorado experience, look no further than Maroon Bells, a truly cinematic location that is claimed to be the most beautiful place in Colorado AND the most photographed peaks in the nation. Unfortunately this one is a bit of a trip from The Ranch- about 4.5 – 5.5 hours (depending on the heaviness of your foot), which is why I’m telling you about it in advance so you can plan ahead, if you choose.
The Maroon Bells are the peaks of two fourteeners in the Elk Mountains separated by a third of a mile. Bring your cameras, sunscreen, water bottles and hiking boots! There are lots of great trails with varying degrees of difficulty that give you incredible views of the park. The 28 mile loop is considered one of the best hikes in the world! (Though probably too long and too strenuous to be completed during the National Show). Check out this link for more info: http://www.colorado-hiking-vacations.com/maroon-bells.html
While I highly recommend hiking AROUND the bells, be advised of the peaks’ alternative nickname: The Deadly Bells. Many people have died attempting to climb these peaks, as the terrain is rocky and prone to slides.
If you arrive before 9 AM, you can supposedly drive straight to the park, but between 9 AM and 5 PM, you must take a $6 bus from Aspen (http://www.stayaspensnowmass.com/activities/visit-maroon-bells).