Conundrum Hot Springs - Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
White River National Forest
Conundrum Hot Springs, at 11,200 feet in elevation, are a special feature of the 181,976-acre Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. This area carries special legal designation to protect its natural, undeveloped and untrammeled qualities as well as to provide outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation.
Be Prepared for a Challenging Hike!
The distance to Conundrum Hot Springs from the Conundrum Creek trailhead is approximately 8.5 miles (one-way) with an elevation gain of 2,400 feet. The trailhead starts at 8,800 feet elevation and climbs continuously through the valley to the hot springs at 11,200 feet. The effects of the high elevation environment, including altitude sickness, should not be underestimated.
The trail crosses Conundrum Creek three times before the hot springs. Primitive log bridges span the first and the second crossings. The third crossing requires wading through the creek. This crossing is challenging (deep, cold, and swift), especially during spring and summer runoff, and is noteworthy for trip planning.
The best time to visit Conundrum Hot Springs is July through September. Remember: these hot springs sit high in the Rocky Mountains. From early October to late June, the campsites and trail are snow covered and the trailhead is inaccessible. Avalanche hazards exist in the valley. Snow makes route finding difficult. If you’re not prepared to travel and camp in snow, plan your trip for the summer.
Why Do I Need a Permit?
We’re excited that you want to visit Conundrum Hot Springs and thank you in advance for being a good steward. The camping permit system, and the regulations, are in place to help protect this unique Wilderness treasure. Camping in designated campsites minimizes disturbance to the hot springs area and surrounding ecosystems while still providing access to and enjoyment of this special place. Remember, you’ll need to a bear canister. Campfires and dogs are not allowed. There are no toilets so now’s the time to brush up on backcountry bathroom etiquette. As a visitor to the area, it’s up to you to help protect this amazing place, and we know that you will!
Permit & Season Information
The permit allows the permit holder and their group (up to maximum allowable group size at the campsite) to reserve and occupy a campsite in the Conundrum Hot Springs permit zone. The permit holder and group are required to camp in their reserved campsite.
The permit is required year-round for overnight camping in the vicinity of the Conundrum Hot Springs. The best time to visit Conundrum Hot Springs is July through September. From early October to late June, the campsites and trail are snow covered and the trailhead is inaccessible. Avalanche hazards exist in the valley. Snow makes route finding difficult.
The permit zone includes all of Conundrum Creek Valley from Silver Dollar Pond to Triangle Pass.
View map of permit zone
View map of reserveable campsites
Need to Know
When planning your trip, please keep the following in mind:
- The best time to visit Conundrum Hot Springs is July-September. From early October through the end of June the campsites and trail are snow-covered, the trailhead is inaccessible to vehicles, avalanche hazards exist in the valley and route finding is difficult.
- Permits are only available through Recreation.gov. Ranger stations will not issue permits.
- Permit holder (or alternate trip leader) must be present. Permits are non-transferrable. If the permit holder or alternate are not present, the permit is void.
- Printed permit and photo ID must be carried by permit holder or alternate and displayed upon request of any Forest Officer. Permit can be printed as early as 14 days before your reservation date.
- Permit holder and group must camp in their reserved campsite.
- You are responsible for your safety and for the safety of your group while traveling in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.
A few more items to agree to and consider when planning include:
- You will be traveling in Black Bear country. Food, refuse and any scented items must be stored in an IGBC approved bear resistant container. Visitors without approved bear resistant containers will be ticketed and required to leave. This may sound harsh, but we want to keep both bears and people safe at Conundrum Hot Springs. Local retailers rent and sell approved bear resistant containers.
- There are no toilets at Conundrum. Now’s the time to make a bathroom plan. Human waste bags (WAG) bags are recommended and are available free of charge at the trailhead. WAG bags must be packed out. Learn more about how to use a WAG bag. If a WAG bag is not used, visitors are required to deposit solid human waste in holes dug six to eight inches deep at least 200 feet (70 paces) from water, camp and trails.
- Group size is limited to the maximum number of persons allowable at the campsite, with total group size limited to 10 if multiple campsites are reserved.
- Dogs are prohibited in the Conundrum Creek Valley from Silver Dollar Pond to Triangle Pass, including the hot springs, and are therefore not allowed in the designated campsites.
- Campfires are prohibited at all designated sites at Conundrum Hot Springs and above 10,800 feet. Campfires consume wood, accumulate trash, kill fragile alpine vegetation, sterilize the soil and scar the land. Wilderness rangers hike hundreds of pounds of garbage out of the Wilderness every year.
- As with all designated Wilderness, motorized and mechanized equipment is prohibited including bicycles, motorbikes, chainsaws, ATVs, carts, drones, hang gliders and paragliders. This equipment is prohibited to provide visitors with a primitive recreational experience and to preserve outstanding opportunities for solitude.
- Overnight pack and saddle stock are not allowed at any designated campsite in the permit zone.
- Exact conditions at the time of your trip will not be known. Remember that you are traveling in a remote, wild place. Plan and prepare accordingly and embrace the elements of the unknown that wilderness provides.
The reservation fee is $6 per permit. This fee is non-refundable. This fee is retained by Recreation.gov to complete the transaction. No part of the fee goes to the White River National Forest.
- Permit is non-transferable. Permit holder or alternate leader must be present. If permit holder or alternate are not present, permit is not valid
- Group size may be changed up to the maximum allowable at the campsite until the permit has been printed
- Once permit has been printed, you cannot make changes to the permit
- To change your campsite or reservation dates, you must cancel your existing reservation and make a new reservation
- A $6 reservation fee will be charged for a new reservation
- Permit holders may cancel their permit up to day of their trip
- The $6 reservation fee is non-refundable
- Permit holders should cancel their permit if they will not use it to allow another visitor the opportunity to visit this amazing place!
- Canceled permits will be available on permit website within 24 hours of cancellation
620 Main Street Carbondale CO 81623