In late summer, a friend of mine who lives in Denver (Dan) decided he was going to get a group together to trek the 8.5 miles up ~2,500′ to camp out and explore Conundrum Hot Springs. Overall, the trip is 17 miles, with a 3,025′ total roundtrip elevation gain.
Of course I was on board.
My friend Paige was flying in from Detroit, le BF at the time was on board, and some of Dan’s friends said they were game to go. As we got closer to the date, Dan’s friends bailed, so the 4 of us made up the kickass adventure crew.
The morning of October 14th, Micah and I picked Paige up from the airport in Denver, then we headed straight up to Aspen. We didn’t end up getting to the Conundrum Creek Trailhead (8,700′) until about 2pm – much later than we’d hoped to start (I recommend you get as early a start as possible, shortly after dawn).
We met Dan at the trailhead and started on our way!
Morale was high and the weather was phenomenal (low 50s and sunny) for about the first 4 miles. As we gained elevation, Paige was noticeably lagging, so her and I took a slower pace as the guys forged ahead of us. Coming from Detroit, MI, Paige just wasn’t as acclimated to the elevation as the rest of us, and struggled a little bit more. Aside from a few snowy/icy spots, the trail was in super good condition for that late in the season, and clearly marked.
As we got closer to the hot springs, the situation got worse and worse. The temps dropped quickly to the high teens, the sun had set completely and we were progressing at a much slower pace, now walking in the snow/ice and in the dark sans any headlamps. At this point we were probably 10,500′. We had two lanterns and stuck pretty close together, but we all agreed it would be safest to stop and set up camp at about 9pm.
We pitched our tents in what we thought was a camp spot, ate some cold dinner, drank a little booze and went to sleep. Temps dropped to the low teens that night, and we were all sleeping on snow.
As soon as the sun came up, we opened the bottles, got some liquor in us, tore down camp and set off on the last mile or so until the hot springs.
We were way closer to the hot springs than we originally thought (less than a mile for sure) and got to the springs by 9:30a. There was one group of men already in the springs that had hiked up the night before, so we quickly stripped down to undies and joined them in the pool. We made acquaintances and got out the rest of the booze to share with our new friends. (side note – this was definitely an alcohol/420/nudity friendly spot)
The springs themselves were amazing – the views, the temperatures, everything was absolutely magical. We spent about three hours in the hot springs, lazily made some hot breakfast, & got nice and drunk before we got out and started the hike back down. During those three hours, a couple more groups of super chill people showed up and hung out, including some trail runners who started out from the trailhead at dawn, took a quick dip and headed back down.
Overall – 10/10 would highly recommend! The hike was definitely not an ‘easy’ hike, but anyone with some Colorado outdoor experience would definitely be okay. We also went pretty late in the season and had some really cold weather, but I’m glad that we did because the crowd at the hot springs was minuscule compared to how many people are normally around in the mid-summer months.
Feel free to shoot me any questions you may have or share your experiences if you’ve hiked the hot springs too!!
Enjoy some photos from the adventure: