Pitkin County closed Maroon Creek road to uphill vehicular traffic above the T Lazy 7 ranch approximately 1/2 mile below the Forest Service entry portal today as a result of the Federal Government shutdown. The closure came after the Forest Service announced it was closing and barricading all of its facilities, including campgrounds, restrooms, and parking lots along Maroon Creek Road and at the Maroon Bells. RFTA made the decision to discontinue bus service to Maroon Bells when it was learned that parking lot closures would make turning busses around impossible.
“When the Federal Government shut down because of a congressional impasse, our USFS District Office had a huge task of closing down all District facilities in a very short time,” said County Manager, Jon Peacock. “It would have been our preference to keep the road open for buses, vehicles and motorbikes. However, with expectations of a very busy week and weekend, parking lots barricaded, and no bus turnaround or bathroom facilities the County could not keep the road open and protect public safety or the environment,” Peacock said.
Pitkin County offered assistance, in the form of portable restroom facilities and law enforcement in an attempt to help keep the USFS parking area and other facilities at the Maroon Bells available.
“The Forest Service was not in a position to consider the County’s offer of assistance much less accept or negotiate it,” Peacock said.
The road to the Bells is not closed to bicyclists and pedestrians.
“It is unfortunate that the County and our USFS District Office has been put in the position of closing vehicle access to the Maroon Bells due to the ineptness of Congress. I hope all those affected by this, and other closures resulting from the Federal shutdown, will take the time to express their disappointment and anger to their state’s congressional delegation,” Peacock said.