Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Friday, June 8, 2012

Maroon Bells Wilderness Area

I'm about a week behind in excursions; I had over 300 photos from our drive over to Aspen last week to work through before getting to this post! Between working and playing, I barely have time to write :-). It's all good, though. We are getting busier here at Chalk Creek, with over 30 check-ins due in tomorrow. I'll be busy!

We also have a pot-luck dinner every Thursday night, then game night afterwards. Tonight we made a new chicken wing recipe that came out really good...Sweet and Tangy Chicken Wings. I highly recommend this recipe, its quick and easy and tasty...a great combination :-). The game we played tonight was called Left Right and Center. It was easy and fun...another good combination :-). Last week we learned Cards, Jokers and Marbles. Sandi and Joe had the game board, and we all had so much fun that we all want a set ourselves now! Jack, Joe and Al are plotting how to make the board themselves, so hopefully by the end of the summer we'll have our own set to carry around with us :-). Candy Bar Bingo on Saturday nights has also been a hit. So far, we're having a good time here :-).

So, a week ago last Tuesday, we decided to take a day drive over Independence Pass to Aspen, and visit the most photographed location in all of Colorado...The Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness Area in the White River national Forest. When we arrived there, we could see why...but we'll get to that point soon :-).

First we headed up to Independence Pass
a twisty curvy road on our way to 

12.095 feet elevation! 

Once again we found snow (great to roll in)

and ice,

along with awesome views!

As the road started back down towards Aspen, we reached the ghost town of Independence

Click on the picture for a larger version and you can read the history...or go here.

Close-ups of some of the buildings

Hey, I found a nice boarding house for anyone that comes to visit us..any takers??

This beautiful mountain bluebird struck a pose for me

The road became very narrow and hairpin curves as we came further down the pass. A couple of spots were only wide enough for one lane, and you had to be very careful going around curves...slowly and watching for vehicles coming from the other direction! We did meet one truck at one point, who had to back up to a wide enough spot where we could safely pass each other. It was a bit intense, but I can't even imagine what it was like before it was paved!
Upon reaching Aspen, we stopped at a "deli"..or what passes for a deli in this area of the country :-). Johnny McGuire's was interesting to say the least, but they had very good burgers that we ate at a picnic table outside. Now here's where my naivete comes in play, :-). I asked where there was a public restroom, and was told go downstairs, go past the LEAF store, and the restrooms were in the back. I had seen the LEAF billboard and thought to myself, I should check it out, fresh veggies...umm, nope. Check here for what the shop is in reality! 'Nough said.

So on we went to the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area. After mid-June, the area is so popular that private vehicles are banned, and you must take a shuttle bus to the main trailhead area. That's why I wanted to get there before the shuttle service started, as I was unsure of whether the dogs would be allowed on the bus. 

As you can see, the aspen trees are starting to look awesome. It must be unbelievable in the fall when they turn gold.

A marmot by the side of the road greeting people as they drove by

The first view of the bells...so named for their bell shape

Maroon Lake is the gateway to a few trailheads leading into the wilderness...we chose to walk the length of the lake and then walk the 1 1/2 mile waterfalls loop

A beaver lodge at the far end of the lake...no sign of the beavers though. I guess they don't like the dogs splashing around!

The waterfalls...not exactly what I pictured, but ok!

Heading further into the wilderness

This marmot was NOT happy with us, I laugh every time I see this picture. He was definitely yelling at us for disturbing his peace :-).

Unlike other mountains in the Rockies that are composed of granite and limestone, the Bells are composed of metamorphic sedimentary mudstone that has hardened into rock over millions of years. Mudstone is weak and fractures readily, giving rise to dangerously loose rock along almost any route. The mudstone is responsible for the Bells' distinctive maroon color.

Every direction was a different, beautiful scene. The color of the water was unreal. So clear, and so many shades. 

I just can't decide my favorite picture...I need some help! Which one is your favorite? Unfortunately, the wind was cranking pretty good, so the water wasn't calm enough for one of those beautiful reflection pictures. 

The afternoon shadows were beginning to get long, and we wanted to get back over Independence Pass in the daylight, so off we went back east. It was an awesome drive, that I highly recommend for anyone in the area. Sadly, my pictures just don't do justice to the beauty of the area, but I tried! We are so enjoying this area, and so glad we are spending the summer here. 

Until next time, thanks for reading, thanks for comments, we really are happy that folks enjoy our ramblings and photos. Have a great weekend, and we'll see what we can find to write about for next week :-). Oh, and the entire set of photos can be seen here if you wish!


  1. I always have a hard time trying to pick a favorite picture too! It's hard! And, it's hard to capture the beauty of this area, as you said. I find it just plain impossible!

    Thanks for a tour of an area that we won't get to see this time around but will sure keep it on the list for the next trip.

  2. Great pictures! I especially like the mountain bluebird. So pretty!

  3. Beautiful! I've heard of Maroon Bells but didn't know where it was. It is now on my list of places to visit. My experience is just like yours...my pictures never do the places justice! That is why it is so important to get out and see these kinds of places for yourself! Have fun!

  4. What a great time you are having at the campground and on your free time. Sounds pretty darn perfect. Thanks for the tour. I agree that Marmot was mad at you guys. Maybe you were spoiling his view. The scenery is just breath taking. Hope I'll get to see it in person one day.

  5. Beautiful pictures. They make me homesick for my old home in British Columbia. Do you have a hard time finding places you can take the dogs with you when you hike?


  6. Well, beautiful pictures, hard to pick a favorite. It's a tough choice between Chelsea in snow and the angry marmot, hmm. Since the angry marmot just reminds me of myself in my rearview mirror after a drive in my once beloved village of Sag Harbor I have to go with Chelsea in the snow.

  7. Just found your blog and started reading old posts. I vote for picture #1. We were at Maroon Bells a couple years ago, it was so beautiful. We're in northern NM and planned to spend the summer in CO but haven't made it there yet.