The Ultimate Planning Guide for your Maroon Bells Wedding or Elopement

Are you considering having your wedding at Maroon Bells? In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about getting married at this iconic Colorado location. 

Maroon Bells in Colorado on a sunny summer day

Why Maroon Bells is an epic place to get married!

Maroon Bells is considered to be one of the most photographed places in Colorado, and for good reason! 

Located in the Elk Mountains near Aspen, Colorado, the Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak tower over the lush green valley below, making this location incredible for your Colorado elopement or wedding.

In addition to having incredible views, Maroon Bells is also very affordable, especially when you compare it to other ceremony venues in the Aspen and Snowmass areas. 

The Maroon Bells Amphitheater is also completely accessible. So if you’re looking for a spot that all your family members and friends can access, but you don’t want to sacrifice the views, Maroon Bells is one of the best options in all of Colorado.

Maroon Bells amphitheater wedding

Because the Maroon Bells is such a popular tourist area, I always recommend reserving the amphitheater. This allows you to have total privacy and a spot with no tourists in the background for your photos!

The amphitheater is a small, paved platform with benches that can accommodate up to 50 guests, so it’s perfect for intimate weddings or elopements with friends and family. It is located down a short, paved path right near the Maroon Bells shuttle bus drop-off and parking areas.

How to reserve the Maroon Bells amphitheater for your wedding

It’s very easy to make your reservation through the White River National Forest.

  1. Go to the reservations website.
  2. Click on View Availability. 
  3. Either choose your desired date or click on Next Available to find the soonest available date.
  4. Select the available date you want and Click Book Now.
  5. Create a login if you don’t already have one with Recreation.gov
  6. Follow the prompts and pay the rental fee.

When to reserve the Maroon Bells amphitheater for your wedding

The Maroon Bells amphitheater is only available from early June to early October each year, and reservations fill up very quickly. 

Note that in June through August, only Sundays through Thursdays can be reserved. In September and October, only Mondays through Thursdays can be reserved. These rules are in place to prioritize public use during peak visiting times. 

This means that if you want a weekend day, your only option is Sundays between June and August. Because of this, Sundays are typically reserved very quickly, almost immediately after they become available. 

Reservations for a given day open up at 8 a.m. MDT exactly one year in advance. So for example, if you are looking to book the Maroon Bells wedding site on June 18, 2021, the reservation system opens up for this date on June 18, 2020 at 8 a.m. MDT.

If there is a specific date that you really want, I recommend being online to make that reservation exactly at the time it opens up (especially for Sunday rentals). On the other hand, if you can be flexible with what date you choose, you won’t have as much trouble getting a reservation, although they do still fill up fairly quickly.

Maroon Bells wedding cost

You can reserve the Maroon Bells Amphitheater for only $200 for the day! Considering the views and accessibility of this location, it really is incredibly affordable.

Parking and shuttle bus

Vehicle access is heavily restricted to the Maroon Bells visitor area, which includes the Amphitheater. From 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., vehicles are generally not allowed past the Maroon Bells Welcome Station.

Most tourists will take a shuttle bus that runs from the Aspen Highlands Visitor Center up to Maroon Bells. Shuttle tickets are $8 per adult, and dogs are allowed on the shuttle.

However, when you reserve the Maroon Bells amphitheater, you are allotted up to 5 parking passes, which makes getting to and from the Maroon Bells wedding venue very convenient for you and your guests! You can pick up your parking passes from the Maroon Bells Welcome Station 5 days prior to your event.

Day use parking with these parking passes is approximately 200 yards from the amphitheater, and there is also accessible parking 50 yards away from the site.

Facilities

The Maroon Bells area does have vault toilets available for use, but there are no electrical outlets and there is no drinking water available. 

There are also a few benches and picnic tables scattered throughout the general area. 

In addition, there are plenty of walking paths and hiking trails which vary in difficulty and distance. So if you or your guests are looking for activities to do, there are lots of options.

Maroon Bells hiking elopement

If you are interested in a hiking elopement instead of a more traditional ceremony, Maroon Bells is also a great choice. There are a lot of nearby hiking options in the area that will offer you a lot of privacy. 

You can check out AllTrails to explore different trails, or talk to your photographer! As an elopement photographer, location planning is a part of all of my elopement packages!

Maroon Bells wedding reception

While the Maroon Bells Amphitheater is a great ceremony location, you are not able to host receptions here. If you’d like, you can separately reserve the East Maroon Portal Picnic site for your reception, which is approximately 4 miles down the road from the Amphitheater. 

The East Maroon Portal Picnic site can accommodate up to 75 people. Keep in mind that all food and beverages (and any other scented items) must be properly stored until the reception, and these items also must be properly disposed of afterwards for bear safety. Maroon Bells does have a bear-proof food locker to store items until they are needed.

Another option for your reception would be to reserve a private room in a local restaurant in nearby Aspen or Snowmass Village, or to contact a hotel in these areas to host a dinner reception.

Finally, you could also reserve an Airbnb or VRBO and have a private chef or local restaurant cater food for you and your guests! Just make sure that your rental allows for parties or events.

Check out this elopement reception planning guide for more ideas and inspiration on a planning a post elopement celebration!

Are dogs allowed at Maroon Bells?

Yes! Dogs are allowed at Maroon Bells as long as they are leashed, and they are even allowed on the shuttle bus to Maroon Bells. So if you just can’t imagine getting married without your pup with you, Maroon Bells is a great choice for your wedding!

Maroon Bells near Aspen Colorado during the summer time with yellow wildflowers

Choosing when to elope at Maroon Bells

Season

The road to access Maroon Bells is only open for a few months of the year. 

The road typically opens in mid May and closes in mid November. However, the exact date that the road opens varies from year to year. For example, in 2019 the road wasn’t opened until mid June due to higher than average snow levels during the winter and increased avalanche activity. The avalanche debris had to be cleared from the road, leading to a later than normal opening date.

June is usually when you’ll start to see a lot of greenery return to the area, and July and August are great for wildflowers, although peak wildflower blooms vary from year to year. 

September and October are the most popular times for many tourists to visit due to the beautiful fall foliage. The peak time for leaf changing also varies from year to year, although it is typically in the second or third week of September.

If you want to get married at Maroon Bells in the winter time, you can still get there, but it is much more difficult. The road up to Maroon bells is 12.4 miles, and it will be snow-covered. This means that you will need to either cross-country ski, snowshoe, or take a snowmobile up to the area (which actually could be a pretty fun adventure!) You will also need to have appropriate avalanche knowledge to undertake this trip, as the road up to Maroon Bells passes through a number of avalanche chutes.

Weekend/Weekday

Because of the popularity of the Maroon Bells area, I always recommend a weekday wedding or elopement if at all possible. However, if you do have the amphitheater reserved, you will have privacy at your ceremony spot. 

Time of day

When considering what time of day to have your wedding or elopement there are a couple of factors to consider. 

First, in the summer in Colorado, you will always want to be aware of the potential for afternoon thunderstorms. The weather can change very quickly and storms can happen even when the forecast does not show a chance of rain. 

If you are eager to avoid bad weather, you’ll want to consider a morning or midday ceremony. However, the storms that do roll through tend to pass quickly, so you can still have a late afternoon ceremony if you are willing to be more flexible with your schedule for the day. 

The other factor you may want to consider is lighting for your photos. Early mornings will offer the best lighting at this location. And if you are willing to get there early enough, the alpenglow on the Maroon Bells is a spectacular sight. 

Looking for a Maroon Bells wedding photographer?

Looking for someone to help you document your love story? I love helping couples turn their vision for their dream day into a reality! 

I’m a Colorado-based elopement and intimate wedding photographer, and I’d be honored to help you with planning and photographing your special day at Maroon Bells. 

Get in touch and let’s chat about your vision!

Elopement Photographer Kim from Wild and Found Photography

Hi I’m Kim, a Denver, Colorado based photographer specializing in Adventure Elopements in Colorado and worldwide! Photographing couples on the most special day of their lives is a true honor for me. But I’ve made it my mission to take it one step further than that. When you work with me, you’re getting more than just a photographer. I’m here to help you with all of the planning resources you need to have the most amazing elopement day ever! That includes everything from assistance with location ideas, timeline planning, and lots more free resources. So you can forget the work, and focus on having fun!

Maroon Bells Colorado Wedding Planning Guide cover image

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