Avalanche removal ahead of schedule for access to Maroon Bells Scenic Area

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. — The Maroon Bells Scenic Area could be accessible four weeks ahead of schedule because of progress in clearing avalanche debris, the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday.

Pitkin County Road and Bridge has been working to clear the debris that is blocking Maroon Creek Road.

Originally, the opening was through to be delayed from May 15 to June 15, but work done in the past two weeks has pushed the new tentative target for opening to May 24, in time for Memorial Day weekend.

“We have spent the last two weeks working hard to clear the road,” Pitkin County Road and Bridge manager Scott Mattice said. “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.”

Crews started clearing the Road on May 1, encountering compact snow, ice and debris, sheared-off trees and boulders.

Officials earlier said 16 weddings were planned between May 27 and June 14 at the area’s amphitheater and the East Maroon Portal picnic site 10 miles southwest of Aspen.

The new tentative opening date will not impact amphitheater wedding reservations as previously expected.

Even with the tentative May 24 opening, the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District said people with reservations for early June events should expect winter conditions at Maroon Lake with significant snow on the nearby trails.

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