Icon of the Colorado Rockies: The Maroon Bells

Spread the love
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    2
    Shares

After Boulder, I spent several days in Aspen, Colorado. My only plans were to photograph the much-photographed, Maroon Bells and that is just what I did. I made five trips up to Maroon Lake from the town of Aspen and it was an adventure each time.

Maroon Bells, Colorado

Maroon Bells, Colorado

I had just arrived in Aspen and went straight up to Maroon Lake after eating lunch. It was icy and cold up there but the main thing was that I wasn’t acclimated to the high altitude. I was breathing heavy from just walking around the lake shore and sloshing through the snow trying not to slip on icy patches. After an hour and a half I had a big headache from the altitude so I decided to go back to my car and sleep for two hours til sunset. On the way back to the car, a woman a few years older than myself (not bad looking either) struck up a conversation with me asking me if I’d seen any birds. I wasn’t there to do any birding so I didn’t have any insightful info for her. It was her first time up there too. Or maybe she was lonely and secretly hoping I would ask her out on a date. 🙂 Either way, it goes to show that any place special enough is worthwhile to visit no matter the weather.

After sleeping for an hour and a half in my car, I felt even more nauseous and was a mental thought away from opening my door and throwing up in the parking lot but I managed to pull it together because that would have been embarrassing. Then decided to drive down the mountain back to town since I didn’t think I was in any condition to shoot photos. Somehow as I made it down to the forest entrance, I felt better so I decided to turn around and head back to Maroon Lake! I didn’t travel all those miles just to wuss out so I ended up shooting photos til it was dark outside.

Maroon Creek Road in Snowstorm, White River National Forest, Colorado

The next morning I woke up at an ungodly hour to drive back up to the lake before sunrise. It was snowing lightly in Aspen but as I went further up Maroon Creek Road the snow was heavier and the clouds got thicker to a point where I couldn’t see anything anymore since it was still pitch black outside and the road was getting thick with icy powder. I got scared and stopped 3/4 of the way up to shoot road photos and aspen trees. I saw an even crazier photographer, whom I saw later at sunset, in a 4WD pass me and go all the way. That night, we were the last two people to be up at the Maroon Bells. I left before he did and ate dinner downtown. As I was getting back into my car, I realized he was parked next to me and was going to dinner himself. Such a random occurrence since I had parked several blocks away from the restaurant.

During my last day in Aspen, the photographer and I were the only two people at Maroon Lake to shoot the sunrise in 24 degree windy conditions. I asked him what if he saw anything the previous morning in that snowstorm. His response, “All I saw was clouds.” “That’s what I thought, I saw you driving up in that storm but I was too scared to go all the way.” I’ll go to certain lengths to get my photos but it’s not worth risking my life for pictures.

P.S. I don’t understand all the people who go through the trouble of driving up to the Maroon Lake parking lot to only stop their car for a minute or two then drive off. Apparently they didn’t realize they could see a beautiful lake with a perfect reflection of the Maroon Bells if they had gotten out of their car and walked past the outhouse.

See more of my scenic Colorado pictures.


Spread the love
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    2
    Shares

6 thoughts

  1. I often tell people that to get the great photo you sometimes have to go that extra mile. But sometimes you also have to know when not to. Too bad you didn’t get a date out of it. Thanks Richard.

  2. Thanks Peter. Yeah I definitely was going to call it a day had it not been for the quick recovery. I didn’t get altitude sickness for the rest of my stay so I guess that sleep helped me to acclimate despite how sick I felt afterward.

  3. This is a beauty. Nice to get it in fresh snow which makes it look different than the various over-saturated flower-spring-aspen photographs of the area. I like your dark exposure too. Makes it stand out. Nice job. If you’re going to photograph an icon, do it differently.

  4. Thanks David. I think most of the popular photos are taken during the early morning hours when the light is facing the peaks whereas this was shot at the end of the day with the light behind the mountain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *