Campers wishing to spend the night at Conundrum Hot Springs in Colorado’s Maroon-Bells Snowmass Wilderness will now need a permit.
The $10 pass can be purchased at recreation.gov. They will not be available at Ranger stations. They go on sale starting April 18.
Katy Nelson with the U.S. Forest Service says there are 17 sites people can reserve and crews are working on opening up three more. Each campsite accommodates between two and six people.
Nelson manages the trails in the area and says the decision to require overnight credentials wasn’t made lightly.
“Where we are now is the culmination of years of data collection, talking to the public, recognizing that we had a situation up there,” she says. “That situation was basically that it’s an amazing, unique wilderness treasure, but it was being loved to death.”
Forest Service workers were finding trash and human waste at the site, according to Nelson, as well damage to plants and wildlife habitat.
Permits will be designated for specific period of time at the chosen campsite, so Nelson warns reservations could get competitive.
“People will need to plan ahead of time, especially if they’re wanting to visit on a weekend during the summer,” Nelson says. “I think those will be the most coveted permits, but the other side of that is if those are available you can still get them the day of, online.”
Nelson adds that a permit will not be required for day use, but she cautions visitors to be prepared for the 17-mile round trip hike.