It's about that time again. The snow is finally starting to melt and if you are anxious for warmer weather, you're already starting to plan spring and summer adventures! With the amount of snow Colorado received this winter, water levels will be replenished with lakes being higher, rivers flowing faster, and waterfalls falling harder than ever.
One of the most popular spots to visit in Colorado during the spring and summer months is Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs. Up until April 30th, 2019 you are able to drive to the trailhead, park, and begin the hike. But this year things are changing. In hopes to preserve the Hanging Lake oasis, the Forest Service has implemented new rules and regulations for visitors that include a shuttle system and reservations. In this blog, we will explain what to consider when planning a trip to Hanging Lake during the 2019 season.
Trail Type: Out & Back
Trail Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,135 ft.
Dog Friendly: No
One of the most iconic spots in Colorado, Hanging Lake is a natural turquoise oasis with whispy waterfalls and lush greenery. The lake was formed from a geological fault which caused the lake bed to collapse away from the valley floor above. Over the years, water flowing over Bridal Veil falls deposited dissolved carbonates into the lake, creating the lake edge. This process is also known as travertine deposition. Tucked into the side of the I-70 corridor 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs, this lake literally hangs off the edge of the canyon walls and is a must see if you are in the area. The trail itself is about three miles round trip and keeps a steady incline the entire hike up. During the hot summer months this hike can be difficult even for some hikers, but it's very rewarding once you are greeted with the natural beauty that awaits you at the top. On the hike up there are plenty of spots to stop off and enjoy the scenery; take pictures of the canyon and nearby rushing river or explore the rocky hideaways along the trail. There are handrails on trail to help you on the steeper parts to keep you moving in the right direction. Once you reach the top, there is a walkway surrounding the entire lake to enjoy the views not only of Hanging Lake but Glenwood Canyon as well.
Being as beautiful as it is, this serene location brings exponential amount of tourist traffic with almost 185,000 people visiting in 2017. With that being said, foot traffic to Hanging Lake each year increases exponentially with some tourists and out-of-towners disobeying rules and posted signage. For that reason, the Forest Service has teamed up with the City of Glenwood Springs to create new rules and regulations to limit the number of visitors per day to Hanging Lake.
Hanging Lake Shuttle Services
During peak season (May 1 - Oct. 31) reservations will be $12 per person and shuttles will run from the new Hanging Lake Welcome Center, which will open May 1st in Glenwood Springs with free parking. In the off season (Nov. 1 - April 30), reservations will cost $10 and the Hanging Lake parking lot will be open to the public for personal vehicles.
The shuttle will operate daily in the peak season between 6:45 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Times may vary during the season based on weather and capacity. Park personal vehicles and board the shuttle at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center, located at 110 Wulfsohn Road, Glenwood Springs.
Hanging Lake Reservations
Reservations for a permit for Hanging Lake will be available for purchase on April 1st at 10am. Hanging Lake will be open to the public and free of charge until April 30th, 2019. Starting May 1st, only those with a permit will be allowed to visit.
Click the link below to make your reservations:
Online reservations will need to be made via a credit card. Reservations can also be made by calling 970-384-6309; groups of 20 or more need to call the Hanging Lake information line to make their reservation. Additionally, reservations can also be made in-person starting on May 1, 2019 at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center.
What To Bring
If you are planning on doing this hike during peak season, lots of water and hiking shoes are recommended. The trail is steep and rocky so having lots of water is essential and your feet will be much happier on the rocky terrain in good hiking boots. If you are doing this hike during the off season it's recommended to bring snow shoes, crampons, and hiking poles depending on what month you hike in.
When you do visit Hanging Lake, remember to always obey posted signage and always stay on trail. If you are bringing snacks, remember to always pack in and pack out. Leave no trace.
Written by: Mark Munson