Aspen Skiing Co. recreates Maroon Bells Basecamp at Highlands |

Aspen Skiing Co. recreates Maroon Bells Basecamp at Highlands

Staff report
Riders negotiate a trail at the Snowmass Bike Park in September 2017. Three trails were added to the park for this summer.
Tamara Susa/courtesy photo

Aspen Skiing Co. will open a new Maroon Bells Basecamp visitor center at the base of Aspen Highlands this summer.

The existing Four Mountain Sports store will be “re-imagined in likeness to a national park visitor center,” Skico said in a recent statement.

“The new center will feature Maroon Bells history, a topography map, custom merchandise, an interactive social media zone, a water bottle refill station to reduce single-use plastic, a lounge area to wait for the bus and a kids’ play house,” Skico said.

The base of Highlands has been the gateway to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area for years. Buses operated by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority use the base as their hub. Private vehicles are restricted on Maroon Creek Road during the heart of the summer.

Skico also will have food and beverage operations and bicycle rentals at its Maroon Bells Basecamp.

The U.S. Forest Service recently announced that the scenic area and Maroon Creek Road won’t open as scheduled May 15. There remains too much snow to clear. The tentative opening is June 15.

The snow won’t stop Skico from kicking off the summer on Aspen Mountain for sightseers on Memorial Day Weekend, May 25 to 27.

The Silver Queen Gondola on Aspen Mountain will run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the last ride down at 4:30 p.m. Daily operations on Aspen Mountain will start June 15 and continue through Sept. 2. Operations will continue running on weekends on Aspen Mountain through Oct. 6.

Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said company officials will assess later this month if conditions will allow skiing at the top of Aspen Mountain for Memorial Day Weekend.

At Snowmass, the Elk Camp Gondola and Elk Camp Chairlift will run daily from June 21 through Sept. 2, then continue on weekends through Oct. 6.

Fridays will be part of the spring and fall weekend operations at both Aspen and Snowmass this year.

Skico will add three bike trails to the Snowmass Bike Park this summer. The first of the new trails will be ranked as an extremely difficult freeride trail, similar to the feel of Valhalla, and will extend 0.7 miles along bikers right of Valhalla. The second trail will cover a mile of terrain to bikers’ left of Valhalla and will be classified as a more difficult freeride trail. The third trail will extend off of Viking for 0.7 miles and be ranked as a more difficult singletrack trail. This summer also will see a rebuild of Vapor trail from the top of the Elk Camp Chairlift to the French Press junction.