The iconic Maroon Bells area, Aspen, Colorado, will not open as scheduled May 15 due to the avalanche debris blocking the access road, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
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The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District is tentatively setting the opening for June 15 after consulting this week with Pitkin County public works officials reports the Aspen Times.
“We hope to have the road open by June 15,” said Shelly Grail, recreation manager for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District who oversees operations at Maroon Lake. “Everything is tentative.”
In what has been a historic avalanche year in Colorado, Maroon Creek Road has been covered by numerous slides in the 7 miles between T-Lazy-7 Ranch and Maroon Lake. A massive slide covers the road with several feet of deep snow and trees, just a short distance past upper Stein Meadow after the road bends toward Maroon and North Maroon Peaks. A slide-off Highlands Ridge in the Five Fingers area and into Conundrum Valley was rated a 4.5 on the D-scale for destructive potential by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. D1 is the least destructive and D5 is most destructive.
The heavy snowfall and active avalanche season also will affect hiking and backpacking over at least the first half of the summer. Due to its natural beauty, the area is popular for weddings, but unfortunately, 13 couples will have to make new plans as the extended closure will affect their big day.