Maroon Bells visits have nearly doubled in five years, face snowy start this year

Maroon Bells visits have nearly doubled in five years, face snowy start this year

There has been a surge in the number of visitors to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area over the past five years. It’s uncertain if a snow-clogged Maroon Creek Road and snowbound trails to start the summer will slow the stampede this year.

Maroon Creek Valley has been buried in snow and debris from numerous avalanches this winter. Pitkin County public works officials say it is unlikely they will be able to open the road by the typical target date of May 15. U.S. Forest Service officials said they won’t be able to assess damage to facilities until there is access and some of the snow melts.

At this point it looks like the hiking season will be delayed because of a snowpack that is about 135 percent of average in the Aspen area.

While snowy conditions might discourage early visitation, the crowds don’t really start rolling in until later in the summer and into leaf-peeping season, noted Shelly Grail, recreation manager for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District.

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