Permit system goes into effect Wednesday for overnight visitors to Conundrum Hot Springs | AspenTimes.com

Permit system goes into effect Wednesday for overnight visitors to Conundrum Hot Springs

Staff report

Steam rises from Conundrum Hot Springs as visitors enjoy an early morning soak in the spectacular wilderness setting. Starting Wednesday, all overnight campers must reserve a permit to camp in the area.

An overnight camping permit reservation system goes into effect Wednesday for the popular Conundrum Hot Springs area.

The system at http://www.Recreation.gov will be activated at 8 a.m., according to the U.S. Forest Service. Ranger stations will not issue permits. Details on how to reserve a permit can be found at the site by searching "Conundrum Hot Springs Permit."

"Permits will be required year-round for camping in the vicinity of Conundrum Hot Springs, an area roughly 4 miles in length that includes all of Conundrum Creek Valley from Silver Dollar Pond to Triangle Pass, including Conundrum Hot Springs," the White River National Forest said in a news release.

This will be the first camping permit reservation system in the 2.3-million acre White River National Forest.

"We've done a ton of outreach," Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer said in a recent interview.

Overnight permits will be available this year according to the following schedule:

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* Overnight permits for camping April 18 through July 31 will be available at 8 a.m. Wednesday. (Starting in 2019, permits for that period will be available starting Feb. 15 at 8 a.m.)

* Overnight permits for camping Aug. 1 through Nov. 30 will be available June 15 starting at 8 a.m.

* Overnight permits for camping Dec. 1-March 31 will be available Oct. 15 at 8 a.m.

Each designated campsite has an individual maximum number of people allowed at the site, from two to six. There will be 17 sites available to reserve at the start of the process. Three sites will be added during the summer.

The maximum length of stay is three nights from June 1 to Sept. 1 and seven nights the rest of the year.

The Forest Service is reminding Conundrum visitors that even if they access the area from Copper Creek, near Crested Butte, they will still need a permit. Wilderness rangers will check throughout the summer to make sure campers have reservations.

The Forest Service is also mounting a public education effort on how to visit the Conundrum Hot Springs in an environmentally responsible way. The agency teamed with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, which produced a video on sustainable use of the area. The video is available on the http://www.Recreation.gov website.