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Overnight wilderness permits available online

Staff report
Pictured are the camping areas (pink) within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area (light blue) that will require an advance permit from recreation.gov.
U.S. Forest Service/Courtesy image

Information about reserving limited overnight permits in the most heavily-used areas of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness for the 2023 season is now available at http://www.recreation.gov.     

“While permits will not be available for reservation until Feb. 15, we wanted to share information about how to plan a trip through the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness because we know people are already making summer plans,” said Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner. 

Starting this year, the White River National Forest will require an overnight permit and fee in the most heavily-used areas of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, including Conundrum Hot Springs, the “Four Pass Loop” (which includes Crater Lake and Snowmass Lake), Geneva Lake, and Capitol Lake. 



Permits for the limited overnight areas for trips occurring between Feb. 15-July 31 will be available on https://www.recreation.gov/permits/4675333 beginning at 8 a.m. Feb. 15, with limited overnight permits for Aug. 1-Nov. 30 available June 15. 

“The overnight permit and fee program is critical to effectively manage and restore this premiere backcountry destination,” Warner said.  




Revenues generated by the fee program will provide a sustainable funding source for restoring heavily-damaged areas, increasing ranger presence and public education, and improving trails, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

A $10 per-person, per-night fee is required for the limited overnight permit areas from May 1-Oct. 31. No fee is required for children 16 years old and younger or for approved school groups. A $6 processing fee per permit will be charged by recreation.gov.

Recreation in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness has exploded over the past decade, with a quadrupling of overnight use since 2006. This has led to significant management challenges with crowding, large amounts of trash and human waste, user conflicts, and large-scale environmental impacts including campsite damage, human/bear conflict, and loss of vegetation, USFS officials said.

The overnight permit and fee are specifically for overnight camping in certain areas of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and do not apply to day hikers or the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, which has a separate parking and shuttle-reservation system. Parking and shuttle reservations for the Maroon Bells Scenic Area will be available at http://www.aspenchamber.org for the months of May and June beginning March 1, for July and August beginning April 1, and for September and October beginning May 1.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to reserve a permit to camp in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness?

Camping in the most visited areas of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness requires an overnight permit, reserved in advance, year-round. Areas include Conundrum Hot Springs, the “Four Pass Loop” (which includes Crater Lake and Snowmass Lake), Geneva Lake, and Capitol Lake. Use this Overnight Permit Zone Map to understand which areas ones in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness require an overnight permit.

How do I get a reservation?

Overnight permits are only available on recreation.gov.  Search “Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Overnight Permits” on the recreation.gov homepage.

When can I start making reservations? 

  • Feb. 15, 8 a.m.: Overnight permits for April 1-July 31.
  • June 15 8 a.m.: Overnight permits for Aug. 1-Nov. 30
  • Oct. 15, 8 a.m.: Overnight permits for Dec. 1-March 31.

How can I be prepared?   

The best way to plan for your trip and to be ready to reserve a permit is to understand where you plan to camp each night of your trip.

Visit the recreation.gov reservation website.

How much does it cost?

A $10 per-night, per-person fee will be required for an overnight permit in the permit zones from May 1 through Oct. 31. No fee is required for children 16 years old and younger.

What my itinerary includes areas that require an overnight permit and others that do not?

If you plan to camp in any of the overnight-permit zones, you will need to reserve a permit in advance. The reservation system will allow you to book nights outside of the limited overnight-permit zones and return. You will only be charged for the nights in the overnight permit zones, and the $6 processing fee per person is only charged once. 

If I start my trip from the Maroon Bells Scenic Area trailheads, do I need to make a reservation through that system for parking or for the shuttle?  

Yes. Reservations are required for parking or riding the RFTA bus shuttle in the Maroon Bells Scenic Area. When you reserve your overnight permit, your confirmation email will contain a link to reserve a parking or bus shuttle reservation. There is a limited number of parking reservations available, and, when they are full, bus tickets are available.  Alternatively, you could have someone drop you off at the trailhead.  Drop offs are only allowed before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m.