The Forest Service unveiled a plan today that could cut the number of daily visitors to Hanging Lake in half.
The agency has proposed requiring reservations and fees to keep the maximum capacity of the popular hiking destination near Glenwood Springs at 615 visitors per day.
Visits have increased in recent years, reaching as high as 1,200 hikers a day during peak season (May-October). The Forest Service even threatened to close the trail when graffiti was found earlier this year.
The proposal also includes the implementation of a mandatory shuttle service during peak season to eliminate a parking crunch at the trail head.
Fee revenue would go toward maintenance and upkeep of the natural landmark as well as paying for the cost of permits and shuttles.
Ranger Aaron Mayville says these measures would make it easier to communicate the trail's rules.
"We'll be able to capture more people's attention and educate them more on responsible viewing at Hanging Lake as well. So people are jumping in the lake less, not throwing rocks in the lake, not bringing their dogs, etc."
The release of the proposed management plan will initiate a 30-day period for public and stakeholder feedback. The Forest Service says the public can submit their comments by mail, in person or electronically until midnight, Sept. 21. The plan is also subject to an objection process that would include another 30-day comment period while the plan is reviewed.