ASPEN, Colo. — Due COVID-19 social distancing requirements and the need to estimate and safely manage demand, reservations will be required to access the Maroon Bells Scenic Area this year by vehicle or by RFTA shuttle. A reservation system will provide efficient visitor transportation while protecting the scenic area and following guidelines to stay in-line with social distancing requirements. Reservations can be made by visiting www.aspenchamber.org starting June 2.
For the last two years, a working group comprised of officials from the White River National Forest, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Pitkin County, City of Aspen, Aspen Skiing Company, and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, has been meeting to discuss solutions to mitigate traffic, parking and environmental impacts created by people visiting the Maroon Bells. The group planned to pilot a reservation system to access the Maroon Bells in September of 2020 as a way to better manage and limit access to Maroon Bells during the peak visitation period from September to mid-October.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, questions loomed as to how access to the Maroon Bells could be provided this summer safely without a way to manage demand. The working group determined that the pilot reservation system could be the perfect tool to predict and manage demand during the pandemic and, by limiting the number of riders on a bus to approximately 50% of capacity, allow access to Maroon Bells in a way that provides social distance for the safety of riders and bus operators.
As a result, the working group decided to move the pilot of the Maroon Bells reservation system up from September to June. Limited automobile access will begin on June 8 and a reservation will be required for parking at the Maroon Lake, West Maroon or East Maroon lots. The cost for each vehicle reservation will be $10. Starting June 28, visitors will be required to use the RFTA shuttle service between the hours of 8am – 5pm. When buses are not in operation, vehicles may access the parking areas with a reservation. All vehicle and shuttle reservations may be obtained from www.aspenchamber.org starting June 2.
Seats on the RFTA shuttle will be limited and fares are being increased to cover the added expense of making access to the Maroon Bells by bus possible this year. The fare will be $15.95 for all reservations. Parking at the Aspen Highlands Ski Area is Free for the first 30 minutes, then costs: 0-3 Hours: $10, 3-8 Hours: $15, 8+ Hours: $30.
Reservation requests for both the shuttle service and parking will be available to the public beginning June 2 at www.aspenchamber.org. Reservations will initially be available in rolling two-week increments.