ASPEN, Colo — Couples planning weddings at Maroon Bells may not need to change their plans after all. According to the U.S. Forest Service, crews have made great progress over the last two weeks clearing avalanche debris along Maroon Creek Road.
The Aspen Times reported Saturday that the U.S. Forest Service has delayed the opening of the Maroon Bells Scenic Area near Aspen from May 15 to June 15 so crews can remove winter avalanche debris from an access road. The new tentative date is May 24.
Aspen officials say 16 weddings were planned between May 27 and June 14 at the area's amphitheater and the East Maroon Portal picnic site 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of the central Colorado city. While Maroon Bells is not holding any Memorial Day events, couples who'd planned their weddings at the location have been notified they could still have their weddings if they choose.
“We have spent the last two weeks working hard to clear the road,” said Scott Mattice, Pitkin County Road and Bridge Manager. “Even with available staff and equipment focused on getting the road open as quickly as possible, it isn’t realistic for us to think we can match our mid-May opening of last year. Right now, May 24 is most realistic.”
The Forest Service said crews began to clear the debris in earnest on May 1. Crews worked long hours to remove the compact snow, ice, debris, sheered-off trees and boulders.
Maroon Bells Scenic Area is a popular destination for June weddings and other activities. The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District is in the process of telling people with reservations for early June events to expect winter conditions at Maroon Lake and for everyone who comes to the area to expect snow on the surrounding trails.
The Forest Service confirmed that the tentative opening date does not impact the amphitheater wedding reservations.
Maroon Bells Road will reopen prior to June, but the Forest Service said they will not provide any services until June 1.
Clearing work is expected to be ongoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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