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Maroon Bells at Sunrise with Lake Reflections | by NikonKnight
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Maroon Bells at Sunrise with Lake Reflections

Maroon Bells. Clouds helped with the shadows on the peaks.

Notice that isn't an HDR halo. Look at the reflection in the water. Distant clouds bounced the sun back through the gap on camera left. It is the sun, back-lighting the peaks by using clouds as big reflectors. This is very close to what we saw at that moment. The Camera was a Nikon D40, with Sigma 10-20 lens.


Maroon Bells Information


The Maroon Bells, surrounded by pristine National Forest lands, are the most photographed peaks in all of North America. Here you can explore the glacial valley while surrounded by 14,000 - foot peaks. Maroon Lake, surrounded by fields of wildflowers, mirrors images of the Maroon Bells in it's waters.


Maroon Bells has limited accessibility by car but there are bus tours running throughout the day for the summer season. The road is open to all Non-Motorized forms of transportation at no charge. (bicycles, skateboarders, hikers, rollerbladers, etc...)


Nothing but superlatives roll of the tongue when contemplating the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness: the beautiful symmetry of the Maroon Bells, trails leading over nine passes above 12,000 feet in elevation, the delectable hot springs of Conundrum Creek, and shimmering alpine lakes nestled at the feet of jagged peaks, six of which crest over 14,000 feet. The twin peaks of Maroon Bells are perhaps Colorado's most recognizable scene, and the surrounding wilderness is one of the most popular, both for good reason. When it comes to sheer mountain splendor, few areas compare with the Elk Mountains and Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness.


Early on Congress recognized the wilderness value of the Elk Mountains, and Maroon Bells - Snowmass was one of the five original Colorado wilderness areas designated by the 1964 Wilderness Act. That designation comprised only the most rugged core of the range, and it took the devoted efforts of Aspen conservationists to enlarge the area through 1980 Colorado wilderness legislation. These additions included such notable landmarks as Mount Sopris, Castle Peak, and the lower reaches of Conundrum Creek valley. Today Maroon Bells - Snowmass is Colorado's fourth largest wilderness.


Valleys in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness offer an exhilarating mix of aspen groves, flower-speckled meadows, and dark forests of spruce and fir. Above timberline, scraggly krummholz are the only reminder of the lush lower forests, but bountiful displays of alpine wildflowers dazzle visitors in their stead. Big game animals such as mule deer and elk still abound, but extensive residential development of the valleys around Aspen and Snowmass has greatly reduced available winter range and elk populations in particular are experiencing stress as a result.


You'll have plenty of human company in Colorado's fourth largest Wilderness. A non-wilderness road punches into the area to Maroon Lake, creating traffic jambs in summer. Climbers come in herds, despite the face that these peaks are among the most difficult to scale in the state. Caution and skill are advised, but the rewards are stupendous. The march of people is having a great impact on this area, especially the more accessible northern trails.


Size: 181,117 acres


Elevation: 7,500 to 14,265 feet


Miles of trails: 100


Year designated: 1964, 1980

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Taken on December 28, 2010