The White River National Forest released a proposal Thursday to manage the number of overnight visitors in the popular Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness southwest of Aspen.
U.S. Forest Service officials said a surge in overnight use is forcing them to take action to preserve natural conditions and maintain a quality experience in wilderness, where mechanized and motorized uses are prohibited.
Overnight use on the top 10 trails in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness has increased 115 percent since 2007, according to data tracked by the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. Conundrum Hot Springs, the Four Pass Loop and Crater Lake have been hit particularly hard.
“Every year visitation is record setting and every year we are seeing more resource damage and in general a lack of ethical behavior from visitors,” said Kay Hopkins, recreation planner for the White River National Forest.