Camping Reservation System Begins for Conundrum Hot Springs ~
It’s finally happened, both visitors and Rangers are fed up with the overuse of areas of the White River National Forest. This year the camping reservation system begins for Conundrum Hot Springs. Permits were made available starting Wednesday, April 18th for overnight camping at the ever popular Conundrum Hot Springs. The U.S. Forest Service has launched a reservation system this year to help manage the overuse and impact to the Conundrum Valley. Over the years, Conundrum’s popularity and overnight use has grown significantly. What most would hope to be a nice hike into the wilderness and visit to the hot springs has turned into what some would compare to as a backyard pool party. During the busy summer months it’s not unheard of to find dozens of visitors and on weekends those numbers can easily reach close to a hundred. Often times campers are bringing with them loud speakers and cases of beer turning the hot springs into more of a a party spot rather than place of relaxation.
The Conundrum hot springs is located in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, one of the most visited national forests in the country and can be accessed from either the Crested Butte side or Aspen side. Visitation to the hot springs has increased significantly over the past 10 years from less than 1,500 overnight visitors in 2006 to over 5,300 in 2015. Rangers have faced overuse issues such as unofficial campsites that were located too close to the water and trails, human-bear conflicts, trash, and improper disposal of waste to name a few. This new permit system will limit the number of overnight visitors to around 100 per night at the 36 compliant campsites throughout the Conundrum Valley.
Hikers who wish to camp overnight in the roughly 4 mile stretch from Silver Dollar Pond to Triangle Pass, including Conundrum Hot Springs, will be required to obtain a permit regardless of what side they hike up from. These permits are not available at Ranger Stations and will only be available online, you can find them here. Permits for mid-April through July 31st are now available and permits for August 1st through November 30th will be available June 15th at 8am.
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Photo by Zach Dischner