Hanging Lake Trail Fee? It’s Under Consideration

Photo: Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs ( Flickr/CC)
Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs.

We know that Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon has endured graffiti vandals, and hikers and photographers who don't obey stay-on-the-trail rules. But the ever-more popular backcountry area has also seen a climbing number of medical emergencies and even deaths.

Those medical calls are straining the limited staff at a nearby fire department.

The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reported Sunday a proposal for a new Hanging Lake management plan will include a fee for trail access that Glenwood Springs Fire Department Chief Gary Tillotson hopes will provide some relief.

Tillotson is hopeful the fee will cut the number of hikers and enable the White River Forest Service to have regularly scheduled rangers on the trail who could be there to respond to issues and better educate hikers, which would hopefully translate into fewer medical calls.

The Post-Independent reported that the White River National Forest management plan for the area is expected to be unveiled soon. A shuttle system keeping hikers from parking at the trail head, and a cap of 615 hikers per day, which is roughly 40 percent less than the current daily foot traffic, are also under consideration as part of the plan.

  • In 2016, the Glenwood Fire Department was dispatched to 15 calls in a six-month period encompassing the tourist season. So far this year, the department has been dispatched six times to the trail.
  • In June 2017, an 8-year-old boy who from a Denver suburb fell and died at Hanging Lake. The Garfield County Coroner said the death appeared to an accident, although he didn't know if the boy slipped and fell or was struck by a falling rock.
  • In the same month as above, a clothing company that posted photos of a fashion shoot at Hanging Lake found itself the center of unwanted attention recently when a model was photographed in a yoga pose on a fallen tree in the water. The company, Liquido, posted an apology on Facebook and took its photos down.
  • In April 2017, ‘Blest,’ written in fat letters on trees, rocks and benches, along with arrows pointing the way to Hanging Lake. The Forest Service highlighted the vandalism in a seething press release, calling it out as just the latest outrage against an attraction that has seen plenty of rule breaking in recent years.
  • And a few years ago, Outside Magazine unwittingly published an article praising the beauty of Hanging Like — and illustrated it with a picture of someone walking on the same log.