Feds halve the cost of Maroon Bells season pass | AspenTimes.com

Feds halve the cost of Maroon Bells season pass

Annie AddisonSpecial to The Aspen Times

Just when you thought it was too expensive to do anything fun anymore, the U.S. Forest Service has lowered the cost of its annual pass for the Maroon Bells.The pass, which used to cost $50, is down to $25, said Martha Moran, recreation staff manager at the Aspen Ranger District.”After hearing the locals saying they didn’t have enough access to their back yard, I decided to lower the pass fee,” she said. “We’ve listened to you and we’ve lowered the price. So spread the word.”The Maroon Bells, which are some of the most photographed peaks in the United States, average 150,000 visitors each year. However, the area, located in the White River National Forest, is ranked 25th in federal funding and is understaffed and under funded – so much so, that Pitkin County has provided volunteers to help maintain the Maroon Lake visitor site.Moran said the lower pass fee will not have a negative impact.”We weren’t selling that many $50 passes anyway, so if we can sell a lot of $25 passes it will benefit the locals as well as us,” she said. “The locals will be able to have access to the Bells at a modest fee, and if we sell enough passes, it will offset our [maintenance] costs.”The district has partnered with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority on the $25 pass. People will be able to ride the bus up to the Maroon Lake site when car use is restricted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning June 17 through Labor Day weekend.”This is definitely a transitional time for us,” said Moran. “We’re going to see if the annual pass is well-received. We’re hoping to work well with the community because this is a high-use impact area.”