Garden of the Gods

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We took a day trip to Colorado Springs this weekend! We’ve passed through on road trips but never really spent much time so it was nice to explore a new part of Colorado. The Springs are at higher elevation than Boulder and has a more western feel. We hiked the main loop trail at Garden of the Gods and it was stunning! The rock formations are towering and bright red. It’s a must see if you’re in the area. Pikes Peak sure makes for a gorgeous backdrop! We also drive through Manitou Springs and hiked around. We love the Springs and definitely plan on coming back!

Maroon Bells

The #1 thing we wanted to do while in Aspen was to hike the Maroon Bells! It’s the most photographed place in Colorado and for good reason. It’s been on my Colorado to do/bucket list for years now. I was seriously in awe the whole time just soaking up the vast beauty of the lush valley surrounded by 14,000 ft peaks and aspen groves.

My brother Robson, Tyler, and I parked at Aspen Highlands and took the local bus up to Maroon Lake. The bus comes every 15-20 minutes and they do this to limit the traffic that drives over the aspen groves root system. Not sure if this is really true or not haha because we saw a few RV’s and other cars driving up so I think they just do it to limit the number of people parking at the trail head. We were actually glad that Waldo was not with us on this hike because the bus was pretty crowded and standing room only by the time we got on.

Maroon Lake is stunningly beautiful! It’s turquoise blue-green and crystal clear. The wildflowers were blooming EVERYWHERE. Again, I am obsessed with Colorado’s wildflowers- we saw daisies, columbines, lupines, Indian paint brushes, blue & purple bells, berry patches, sunflowers, etc. It was a wildflower wonderland. I love fresh flowers but I am pretty conscious and respectful about not picking them so that everyone can enjoy them and so that I don’t disturb the natural habitat. The massive, snowy peaks behind Maroon Lake are breathtaking.

wildflowers approaching Maroon Lake
wildflowers approaching Maroon Lake
Maroon Lake
Maroon Lake
Maroon Bells lovin'!
Maroon Bells lovin’!
Maroon Bells in the summer
Maroon Bells in the summer

We hit the trail and headed up past Maroon Lake to Crater Lake. It’s a 3.6 mile round trip hike. The elevation gain is not too bad at all (less than 1,000 ft) but the trail had a lot of loose rocks on it so you have to watch your footing the whole time which is nothing new (thank you hiking boots/ankle support). We passed multiple huge aspen groves on the way to Crater Lake. Crater Lake was even more beautiful than Maroon Lake! It was a more vibrant turquoise and I spotted about 5 waterfalls up on the cliffs and peaks! It’s pretty much right at the treeline. We found a nice log and chilled by Crater Lake for a while just absorbing the beauty and high country sun. Robson decided to head back down the trail at this point but Tyler and I continued on West Maroon Trail which is a pass that can actually take you all the way to Crested Butte. We obviously didn’t go that far (that is a multi-day backpacking excursion) but we hiked probably another mile or 2 beyond the peaks and into the valley. The crowd thinned out significantly after Crater Lake (I think we only saw like 2 other people) so that was nice because the rest of the trail was pretty crowded. West Maroon Trail is prime bear and moose territory so we stayed alert and had our eyes and ears open the whole time. We crossed over creeks and rock fields, hiked waist deep in wildflowers, and got great views of huge waterfalls on the cliff sides. Highly suggest West Maroon Trail! Overall, the Maroon Bells were amazing and unforgettable. If you are ever in the Aspen area, go see and hike them! We might even have to go back in the fall when all the aspens turn bright yellow.

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness in White River National Forest
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness in White River National Forest
surrounded by peaks in all directions
surrounded by peaks in all directions
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aspen groves galore
looking back on Maroon Lake from
looking back on Maroon Lake from the trail
approaching Crater Lake
approaching Crater Lake
wild columbines
wild columbines
Crater Lake
Crater Lake
Crater Lake with my love
Crater Lake with my love
2 tier waterfall on the cliff side
2 tier waterfall on the cliff side
castles in the sky
castles in the sky
West Maroon Trail/Pass
West Maroon Trail/Pass
waterfalls, canyon walls
waterfalls, canyon walls
We live in paradise! West Maroon Trail
We live in paradise! West Maroon Trail