Snowpack and avalanches block Maroon Creek Road.

During a typical season, the road up to Maroon Bells Scenic Area opens sometime around mid-May. This winter has been anything but typical. The snowpack in and around Aspen is at about 135%. It will likely be later in May or possibly early June before Maroon Creek Road is open.

Obviously, hiking the Maroon Bells Scenic Area trails will be impossible for some time. The Ranger District has a 6-person trail crew ready to go to work but will need more snow to melt before they can get to work. Word is it may mid-summer before the wilderness crew will able to work at higher elevations.

It's possible too some of the parks facilities have been damaged by the heavy snows and avalanches. The US Forest Service says they won’t be able to fully assess the situation until some of the snow melts.

The number of visitors to Maroon Bells has exploded the last several years. The Forest Service estimates about 320,000 persons visited last year alone. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, the local bus service delivering visitors to the Bells and back, reports ridership has increased annually since 2014. That year, RFTA had 123,128 passengers on their Maroon Bells route. That number surged to 174,202 in 2015, and again to 199,768 in 2016. The increase continued through 2017 when 215,562 passengers took the ride up. Last year, the growth climbed another 13% for a season total of 243,165. For more info on how you can schedule a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority ride to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, call 970-945-3319 or click HERE.

Thinking about a visit to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area this summer? The Maroon Bells is a "fee area." An annual pass, good for one calendar year, is $25. For more info camping, hiking, and other access click HERE.

Credit: Aspen Times