About 4 hours from Denver in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass wilderness sits the highest hot springs in North America. The 8.5 mile trail gaining 3,000 ft. in elevation is well worth the effort to one of Colorado’s most spectacular settings. The isolated hot springs consist of several pools varying in size and temperature. The larger pools are about 3 feet deep and were 100 degrees when we visited in mid-June!
We packed up the car and left Denver around 4pm on a Friday and arrived at the Conundrum Creek Trailhead around 9pm. The parking lot wasn’t too crowded, but I’d imagine in the peak summer months, a Thursday or early Friday afternoon arrival is necessary to ensure a weekend campsite.
We hiked out about a mile in and camped off of the trail for the night at a dispersed site. The unobstructed views of the stars lit up the surrounding peaks.
The next morning we began our 5 hour ascent to the springs. The trail was a gradual climb up the valley, through lush meadows, thick aspens, and several stream crossings. At approximately 6.5 miles in there is a large creek crossing. Chaco’s or water shoes are highly recommended as your feet will get wet.
There are 16 campsites surrounding the hot springs, varying in elevation, shade, and exposure. Spots were filling up fast when we arrived. Please make sure to camp at designated spots. If no spots are open, ask a neighbor if you can join them!
The sense of accomplishment and feeling of relaxation was at an all-time high as we soaked and looked down at the hike we just completed. Afternoon gave way to night as we chatted with strangers surrounded by panoramic alpine views and colorful wildflowers. It does get chilly once the sun sets, so be sure to pack a towel, change of clothes, and headlamp.
The next morning we took one final dip and hiked leisurely down to the trailhead. An incredible experience all around – we will be back again soon!
Note: you cannot have campfires or pets in the upper campgrounds, and bear canisters are required. Be advised, clothing is optional at the hot springs. Rangers do patrol this hike due to its popularity, so pack it in – pack it out, and please be mindful to keep this beautiful area pristine.
Want more information? Click here for the trail report.