Overnight permits for camping at the Conundrum Hot Springs are scheduled to be made available at 8 a.m. on June 15, but those seeking to soak in the popular water should know it may not be easy after the heavy winter.
“It is important that anyone planning a trip [there] know that a landscape-changing avalanche event has impacted the Conundrum Creek trailhead and trail,” the U.S. Forest Service said in a press release issued Thursday. “The trail remains open; however, the majority of the trail is snow-covered, and many sections are buried under large amounts of avalanche debris. Route-finding is expected to be difficult. Many avalanche and debris hazards exist beyond the trailhead.”
The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District issued a temporary closure order of the Conundrum Creek trailhead that is in effect until further notice. Until the trailhead closure is lifted, anyone traveling to Conundrum must arrange to be dropped off at the road barrier at the end of Conundrum Creek Road and start their hike from this point.
There is no parking in the vicinity of the trailhead, public parking on Conundrum Creek Road is prohibited, and there is no opportunity to turn around on the narrow road due to avalanche debris and snow; attempting to do so may result in trespassing on private property, the release says.
The trailhead and parking area closure will extend into the end of June. On June 17, the Forest Service will begin work to repair the damage to the parking lot. The trailhead will reopen when that work is completed.
With the hot springs inundated in recent years by overuse that led to mounds of trash and human waste, the felling of trees for firewood, and other issues, the federal agency last summer began mandating camping permits.
Forest Service officials said the new system made an immediate impact.
The summer of 2018 saw 102 fewer violations related to improperly stored food than in the previous season.
Tyler Lee, a lead wilderness ranger, told the Aspen Daily News that “it feels clean up there. We’ve seen improvement with more prepared visitors.”
Other notable metrics include only two illegal fires recorded in 2018 compared to 42 in 2017; 16 instances of exposed human waste, down from 69 the prior year; and no live trees cut compared to four in 2017.
The reservation fee is $6 per permit. This fee is non-refundable. Fees are retained by recreation.gov to complete the reservation transaction. For help planning your trip to Conundrum Hot Springs, visit recreation.gov or contact the Aspen-Sopris Ranger Station at (970) 963-2266.