After the avalanche that hit Maroon Creek Road, volunteers and workers have been making huge efforts to clear up the area and make way for the reopening of the Maroon Bells Scenic Area.

The area is now ready after two weeks of work and has a tentative opening date of May 24. The original opening date was delayed to June 15 so this new tentative is leaps ahead of schedule.

Maroon Bells as of early May 2019. Photo Courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

“We have spent the last two weeks working hard to clear the road,” said Pitkin County Road and Bridge Manager, Scott Mattice. “Even with available staff and equipment focused on getting the road open as quickly as possible, it isn’t realistic for us to think we can match our mid-May opening of last year. Right now, May 24 is most realistic,” Mattice said.

Crews had begun clearing debris on May 1 from the avalanche on Maroon Creek Road and had dealt with compact snow, ice, boulders and other difficulties. Thankfully, with the help of heavy equipment and long hours, the dedicated staff have been able to clear most of the debris from the area.

As the weather warms, the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District advises people with reservations for early June events and those visiting the area to anticipate winter weather conditions at Maroon Lake and significant snow on the surrounding trails. Fortunately, the new opening date does not impact the amphitheater wedding reservations as first anticipated.

“We have been keeping reservation holders as up-to-date as possible with the unfolding situation on Maroon Creek and at the Maroon Bells Scenic Area,” said Shelly Grail, recreation manager for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. “Fortunately, with all the hard work that has taken place, the new target opening date will not impact amphitheater reservations. We can’t thank our partners at Pitkin County enough for all of their hard work and for the public’s patience as we work to address the impacts from the intense winter season and avalanche cycle.”

If you want to take a drive up Maroon Creek Road during Memorial Weekend it should be open in time for Memorial Day, however, the Forest Service will not be providing any services to the scenic area until the beginning of June.

Staff and volunteers will continue to remove debris throughout the upcoming weeks, so signs will be posted and roads will be closed until the opening date. Until the Maroon Creek Road officially opens, stay clear for safety reasons and to make sure that work continues as planned.

“We’ll be able to focus on getting the road open if we don’t have to worry about people walking or biking where we’re working,” Mattice said. “We can’t always see them from the cabs of our equipment.”

Pitkin County Road and Bridge and the Forest Service will be posting updates about road-clearing progress and projected openings in the upcoming weeks. You can check here and here for more information.