Forest Service rings wedding bells at Maroon Bells less frequently
Wedding bells aren’t ringing as often this summer at the Maroon Bells.
Nine years after creating a fuss by allow the amphitheater at Maroon Lake to be rented for weddings and other special events, the U.S. Forest Service has dialed back the use.
The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District decided not to rent the facility Fridays and Saturdays this year, according to Martha Moran, recreation staff supervisor. The Maroon Bells facilities are already overwhelmed on weekends. The Forest Service decided to ease congestion by eliminating amphitheater rentals on the two busiest days, Moran said.
The Maroon Bells received a record number of visits last summer and fall. Weekend use is always the most intense.
The amphitheater can still be rented for nuptials and other special events Sundays through Thursdays. People are still jumping at the opportunity to gather at the spectacular setting.
“It’s booked,” Moran said.
A quick scan of the reservation website showed it was booked just about every date available from late June through July. It’s booked about half the available dates in August and September.
The Forest Service first rented the amphitheater in summer 2007. The White River National Forest was seeking ways to boost revenue after cuts to its regular budget.
The amphitheater was underutilized in prior summers because sightseers wanted to roam rather than sit and listen to a lecture on an outdoor-related topic, Forest Service officials said at the time. So the agency decided to make money off of it.
The amphitheater offers a stunning setting. A platform partially surrounded by built-in bench seating offers stunning views of a meadow down to Maroon Lake. The Maroon Bells provide a majestic backdrop.
The facility was initially rented for private events for $175 for two hours. The fee was later boosted to $200. Attendance is limited to 100 people and only five vehicle passes are doled out per event. Other attendees have to catch the bus.
Birdseed, confetti and electrified music are banned, as are receptions.
Wedding planners for the Aspen area gush about the facility and warned clients, prior to this summer, to plan ahead because weekends booked about a year ahead.
Given the United States is in the throes of a constitutional crisis, now isn’t the time for debates over who’s pictured on American currency and who’s memorialized with a statue on public property, two prominent historians told an audience in Aspen on Saturday night.
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