Hiking to Conundrum Hot Springs might look like an impossible feat (the hike is 18 miles round trip), but don’t be put off just yet by the distance. Some avid hikers will complete the trek in one day, but it is by far more enjoyable and rewarding to spread the hike out over at least two days. This is the perfect overnight hike for backpacking beginners!
Less than a 20-minute drive from downtown Aspen, the trailhead to get to Conundrum Hot Springs is easily accessible. The hike carves a path through the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, part of the White River National Forest. Following the creek nearly the entire way up, you will never be without fresh water (just be sure to bring a filter). If you’re lucky, you may spot a moose, deer or even a bear so be sure to pack some bear spray. What you will definitely see is an abundance of wildflowers, breathtaking mountain views, and quaint, high-alpine streams.
Although getting to the hot springs is not easy, it is incredibly rewarding. They are located at an elevation of 11,200 feet, making them some of the highest hot springs in the country. It’s common to see snow in the surrounding area up until early July.
When your legs start to feel like jelly, it’s a good sign that you’re getting close to the springs. Though the water can come out of the ground as hot as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the average temperature of the pools clocks in at about 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Be prepared to see some bare bodies—many ladies will go topless and men will often wear little to nothing. But hey, that adds to the thrill! Be sure to pack some tasty post-hike snacks and set up camp for the night at one of the nearby camping spots. Then, great ready to stargaze like never before, and do it all again tomorrow.
Know Before You Go
You will need to book a campsite and permit in advance. They fill up quickly, so get in early! Early means, late winter, early spring (if you are looking to do this in the summer).