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The infamous Maroon Bells are one of the most iconic landmarks in all of North America. Staking their claim at the upper end of the glacier-carved Maroon Creek valley, the twin 14,000-foot peaks top off a panoramic alpine view that is so unique it is widely known as one of the most photographed locations in the country.
Most Aspen visitors are funneled to the well-known bus ride to the Bells, while Snowmass guests have the opportunity to discover a more secretive view. This lesser-known location is no less dramatic, and your view of these beautiful peaks can be enjoyed in peaceful solitude.
Purchase a foot pass for the Elk Camp Gondola and hop on. Tickets are available at the ticket office in Snowmass Base Village next to the Elk Camp Gondola. Tickets can also be purchased at any Four-Mountain Sports location.
Make sure you have plenty of water, sunscreen, a raincoat, and some snacks or lunch. If needed, hit up the Elk Camp Restaurant at the top of the gondola for a delicious meal to be enjoyed once you reach the view. The gondola stops at the doors of the restaurant. There, you can stock up on some locally-sourced snacks or purchase a to-go picnic.
Begin hiking on the Summit Trail (trailhead located just beyond the Elk Camp Restaurant). This trail will wind beneath the Elk Camp chairlift amongst Aspen trees and wildflowers leading you to the top of Elk Camp. When starting near the gondola, the hike is about 1.7 miles long with an ascent of over 1,500 vertical feet. Another option is to ride the Elk Camp chairlift up.
Once you are at the top of the chairlift, keep walking straight, up and over the ridge to see the full view and relax with that well-deserved picnic. This unique perspective overlooks the Maroon Bells, expansive cirques and Snowmass’ rugged Hanging Valley.
After taking in the views, you have the option of downloading via the Elk Camp chairlift (then transferring to the gondola) or, you can always simply turn around and take the trail back down.