I got the opportunity to visit Aspen with some good friends of mine last weekend and as a photographer my first thought was I need to see the Maroon Bells. The Maroon Bells are one of the most photographed mountains in the United States and I am sure you have seen them before. During the winter though there is only a few ways to get to the viewpoint, such as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. I opted for snowmobiling since I have never skied before, it was more expensive but it was awesome.
- Cost: Check here
- 3 Hour Tour
- Includes lunch
We arrived in the morning for the 9:30 AM tour and got outfitted with all of our gear for the snowmobile adventure. The gear was a helmet and a full winter suit, kind of like a big onesie that makes you looks like a marshmallow.
After getting set up we were given an intro into how to drive a snowmobile. It was super easy and the machines have seat warmers, hand warmers and are automatic.
We hit the road and started back to the bells, the road is only accessible to cross-country skiers, hikers and snowmobiles, so we had it all to ourselves on the brisk and beautiful morning. My wife and I also lucked out by only having one other person on our tour so it was relaxed and seemed almost private.
The first stop was right after we turned and saw the Maroon Bells for the first time. It was even better than I imagined. You can see how daunting the mountains are in the above picture. Here is a short video on the ride.
From here you proceed another 4 miles to the turn around for the buses during the summer and park the snowmobiles. The guides provided warm drinks and we even got to feed the Blue Jays from our hands which was a lot of fun.
The optimal view for the Maroon Bells during the wintertime is on top of the visitor center. Since there was a lot of snow it was easy to walk right to the top and gaze at the mountains.
The Maroon Bells are over 14,000 feet and are climbed every year but can be deadly due to the exposure and the technicality. You also need to climb both of the Bells for it to count as a summit which adds to the danger.
I took a ton of photos here as we were blessed with a perfect day. Here are some:
From here the tour headed back the way we came (this is the end of the two-hour Maroon Bells tour if you choose that option), then we veered off the road and went on a single track up to a cabin in the woods. The single track was a ton of fun and made the ride more adventurous.
The cabin we got to was beautiful as well, located on top of a small snowy hill with about 60 steps lead up to it.
The guides cooked us a lunch of home-grown beef hamburgers, it was fantastic and a lot of fun to eat in the beautiful old cabin. We also heard the history of the ranch and the town of Aspen while eating.
After a leisurely lunch, we set out on a different single track back to the road. This was a ten-minute ride with only a foot of clearance on each side and it was a ton of fun. After that, we got one last chance to put the pedal to the metal on the track they have set up for the snowmobiles. I loved being able to floor the gas and it was a total adrenaline rush to give the machine all its got. After a few laps we head back to the start and the tour was over.
Honestly, I cannot recommend this more, it was a total blast. The guides were amazing, the riding was fast and fun and the scenery was flawless. I relished this chance to see the Maroon Bells without all the summer crowds and if you are not a skier it is a great way to explore Aspen. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.