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Aspen runs gondola for free after feds shut down Maroon Bells road

October 8, 2013, 5:11 pm

The Silver Queen Gondola on Aspen Mountain was free and open to the public last weekend — the final weekend of summer operations.

With the recent federal government shutdown closing the wildly popular road to the Maroon Bells during peak leaf-peeping season, Aspen Skiing Company decided to run the gondola for free so guests could check out the amazing views and peak fall foliage after a Friday snowstorm.

aspen silver queen gondola

Aspen opened the Silver Queen Gondola for free last weekend after the Maroon Bells Road was shut down (Aspen Skiing photo).

“The Bells may be closed but the bucket’s open,” Rich Burkley, vice president of mountain operations said in a press release last week. “We know people come to Colorado from all over the world this time of year to see the stunning scenery and with the road closure and the difficulty of access for many people, this gives our guests a chance to view forests blanketed in gold and crimson from the summit of Aspen Mountain.

“We are hopeful for a quick resolution as we know many in our community and around the country are negatively affected by the shutdown.”

In other local government shutdown news, a contingent of Aspen snow-sports athletes such a Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler and big-mountain skier Chris Davenport, representing Protect Our Winters, reportedly ran into some roadblocks in Washington, D.C., last week.

The group, which included outdoor retail leaders, was led by Auden Schendler, vice president of sustainability for Aspen Skiing Co., and was pushing for more federal policies to reduce carbon emissions.


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David O. Williams is an award-winning energy, environment, sports and outdoor writer based in the Vail Valley. His work has appeared in publications as diverse as the The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, SKI, SKIING, Powder, People, LA Weekly and the Huffington Post.

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