Standing at the listed coordinates, you will be looking up Maroon Valley at the Maroon Bells with Maroon Lake in the foreground.
The beautiful scene before you was created by several important geological events occurring over millions of years.
Formation of The Maroon Bells
Unlike other mountains in the Rockies that are composed of Granite and Limestone, the Maroon Bells are composed of sedimentary mudstone. It took millions of years for streams, lakes and inland seas to deposit layer upon layer of sediments 10,000 feet thick. Under the extreme pressure created by the thickness of the sediments and over millions of years, the sediments hardened into sedimentary rock.
To create the Rocky Mountains and the Maroon Bells, the sediment had to be pushed up to form the mountains. This was caused by something called Plate Tectonics. The Earth's surface is made up of a series of large plates (like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle). These plates are in constant motion travelling at a few centimeters per year. The image below shows how the Pacific plate is pushing below the North American plate (this is called subduction) causing mountains to be formed.
Formation of Maroon Valley, Erosion and Glacial Activity
Two million years ago, the climate in North America was much colder and the mountains were covered with glaciers. These glaciers would flow at a very slow rate through valleys already formed by erosion taking large amounts of material with them. The U-Shape of Maroon Valley, sometimes called a glacial trough, is typical of valleys that have been formed by glacial movement. Also, the pointed peaks of Maroon Bells are known as glacial horns. Erosion caused by wind, water, snow and ice continue to shape the Maroon Bells and the Maroon Valley today.
To Claim a Find on this Earthcache
A. Email the answers to these questions to the cache owner (Required)
1. The red color of the Maroon Bells results from the weathering of what iron based mineral?
2. How many years did it take nature to form the Maroon Valley?
3. Looking at the east end of Maroon Lake, how many distinct outflows does it have (dry or wet)?
4. Looking at the base of the hill across the outlet of the lake from the cache coordinates, what do you see? What do you think caused this?
B. Take a picture of you and/or your team at the cache coordinates and post it with your log (Optional)
Note: You can drive your car up to the parking waypoint, very close to the posted coordinates, before 8:00 am and after 5:00 pm any time of the year that the road is open. There is a $10.00 fee per car as of this posting. After 8:00 am and before 5:00 pm in the summer months, you must take the bus up to the cache area. You can find more information/full details here.
Don't forget your camera!