Conundrum Hot Springs: Forest Service To Require Permits In 2018

<p>Sam Brasch/CPR News</p>
<p>Visitors soak in the evening at Conundrum Hot Springs, outside of Aspen, Colo.</p>
Photo: Conundrum Poo Problem 6 | Hot Springs Soaking - SBrasch
Visitors soak in the evening at Conundrum Hot Springs, outside of Aspen, Colo.

Hikers hoping to camp at Colorado’s wildly popular Conundrum Hot Springs near Aspen will first have to get a permit starting next summer, the U.S. Forest Service announced Wednesday.

The natural hot springs require a 8.5-mile hike with elevation gains of some 3,000 feet. But stunning views of the Conundrum Creek Valley from the pool mean it can draw more than 300 people a night. That’s led to overcrowding and human waste issues that the Forest Service hopes to address with the new permitting system.

“The plan has been years in the making, beginning with decades of documentation of environmental impacts, along with countless years of data collection, and community involvement,” District Ranger Karen Schroyer said in a press release. “We have finally arrived at a decision that will protect this beloved Wilderness area while ensuring recreational opportunities into the future.”

Details on how to obtain a permit and how much they will cost will be made available next spring. Schroyer emphasized the Forest Service will make adjustments as issues with implementation arise. The Forest Service says it will likely try to add an additional fee to help fund restoration, education and other efforts.

The Forest Service also announced it will implement a reservation system for the popular Four Pass Loop and Capitol Lake at a later date. Visitor usage went up nearly 300 percent from 2006 to 2015 some spots, the agency said.