The Maroon Bells are one of the most photographed peaks in North America, dubbed as such thanks to their distinct reddish-purple hues and unique bell-like shape. Near the base of these iconic twin peaks found outside of Aspen, visitors will find Crater Lake. It’s located at less than 2 miles from the parking area at just over 10,000 feet, making it an easy spot to reach.
The Crater Lake Trail is a 1.8-mile, out-and-back path from the parking area to Crater Lake. The trail is very popular for a day hike, traveling through aspen groves and a rock garden. A visit to Crater Lake includes a magnificent view of the towering red peaks above. Although the trail is relatively short, the rocky scree and elevation gain can make the hike more difficult.
Above Crater Lake, visitors can see the 14,163-foot Maroon Peak and the 14,014-foot North Maroon Peak. Together, these peaks are called the Maroon Bells, formed as the result of more than 300 million years of geologic transformations and erosion. The red and purple hues of the mountains are from the erosion of hematite, an iron-based mineral.
Author’s Note: Practice the Leave No Trace principles to leave a minimal impact on the area.