Planning is underway for the future of crowd control in Colorado’s iconic Maroon Bells Scenic Area.
The latest development is a public workshop next week in Aspen, where people can add their two cents to an ongoing collaboration involving multiple agencies, including local and federal governments. Input is sought “before we go too far in the process,” Pitkin County Public Works Director Brian Pettet said in a recent news release announcing the meeting.
The announcement came on the heels of a meeting where county commissioners expressed hope that residents would be considered in an ongoing analysis of the postcard site, where Maroon Lake reflects the peaks twins.
“I’m one of the long-time locals who would like to go more, but it’s a little tricky to get there,” said commissioner Steve Child.
Land managers said attendance at the site had doubled in the past 10 years. Following what they called “unprecedented” demand in 2020, reservations were enacted for vehicle parking and shuttle rides. Authorities also recently reviewed bicycle traffic on Maroon Creek Road, and fees and permits are on the table for wilderness hiking.
A “comprehensive plan” is needed, according to a proposal commissioners accepted from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.
The proposal pledged to “address the impacts of increased visitation by identifying sustainable levels of access while considering local economic and other community impacts”.
At the April meeting where the stewards agreed to contract with Volpe, they reviewed booking data showing that 91% of parking spaces had already been reserved for the season. For commissioner Greg Poschman, that suggested some people would be left out.
“Is it possible to spread the reservations over the summer?” He asked.
It’s one of many questions potentially worth exploring, Pettet said.
The overall plan “is really a blank slate for how we manage access to Maroon Bells,” he said.
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