Hanging Lake management plan would limit visitors to 615 a day, impose fee-based reservations
A plan to limit the number of visitors at the popular Hanging Lake area in Glenwood Canyon to 615 people per day relies on a fee-based reservation, permit and mandatory shuttle system during the peak season.
The U.S. Forest Service this morning released its long-awaited management plan for the area, as it attempts to grapple with increasing crowds at Hanging Lake and on the 1.2-mile trail situated 9 miles east of Glenwood Springs.
Those crowds can top 1,200 visitors a day in the summer, leading to overcrowding on the trail and illegal overflow parking in the trail head and rest area parking lot that is managed by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The proposed management plan is now subject to a 30-day public comment period.
It would institute a shuttle service to be operated by a third-party provider during the peak months from May 1 through Oct. 31.
“The Hanging Lake Area would be managed so that visitor access is under a one-stop shopping/reservation scenario,” according to the proposed plan. “During the peak season, the shuttle provider would allocate and manage to the daily capacity through the reservation and shuttle service.”
It would be up to the shuttle provider to choose a visitor pick-up and drop-off location and to come up with a schedule.
During the off season, from Nov. 1 through April 30, the Hanging Lake area would be managed to the same daily capacity of 615 people using a reservation and permit system, but people would be allowed to drive to and park at the trail head.
If parking exceeds capacity during the off-season period and illegal parking and safety issues arise, the daily capacity of visitors could be adjusted, the plan suggests.
The plan also calls for removing the Federal Highway Administration’s “safety rest area” designation for the Hanging Lake Rest Area that serves Interstate 70 travelers in addition to trail users. Under the proposal, CDOT would grant a five-year renewable lease to the U.S. Forest Service for the trailhead and rest area.
Crowding on the trail and at the delicate lake, which is a National Natural Landmark wildly popular on social media, has been worsened by occasional vandalism and visitors ignoring rules about parking, staying out of the water and bringing dogs on the trail.