Colorado's fourth largest Wilderness exemplifies Rocky Mountain splendor: 100 miles of trail lead over nine passes above 12,000 feet, vast regions lie above the tree line, and long glacial valleys point the way to glistening alpine lakes. Six peaks rising above 14,000 feet draw mountaineers to challenge themselves on the rugged terrain. These peaks are among the most difficult to scale in the state. Caution and skill are advised.
In midsummer, the wildflowers are abundant. Native Bighorn Sheep make their home in the rocky terrain. Elk and deer currently thrive in the Elk Mountains, but development threatens their habitat.
Historically what is now the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness was the territory of the Paranuche and Tabeguache bands of the Ute Tribe.
The Maroon Bells Scenic Area, which lies outside of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, provides access to some of the popular Wilderness trailheads. Due to the popularity of recreation in the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, shuttle buses operate during the summer months (approximate mid-June through Labor Day, plus weekends in September) to Maroon Lake.
The Maroon-Bells Snowmass Wilderness draws over 100,000 visitors (day hikers and backpackers) each year. The Conundrum Hot Springs lie within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Starting in April 2018, a permit is required for overnight stays within the Conundrum Hot Springs Zone. This zone includes all of Conundrum Creek Valley from Silver Dollar Pond to Triangle Pass, and includes the popular hot springs. This permit must be acquired in advance at recreation.gov. All other overnight visitors to the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness are required to self-register at trailhead registration boxes.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Colorado Wilderness Act - Public Law 96-560 (12/22/1980) To designate certain National Forest System lands in the States of Colorado, South Dakota, Missouri, South Carolina, and Louisiana for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System