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Horse rider with a scenic mountain view

Glenwood Springs Adventure Planning: 7 Keys for Safe & Sustainable Exploration

In addition to spectacular geothermal experiences, Glenwood Springs is a breathtaking locale for outdoor adventures of all sorts. Follow these Care for Colorado tips to ensure you have the time of your life on vacation while also protecting the environment.

Know Before You Go

hiker on Hanging Lake TrailBefore embarking on your Glenwood Springs outdoor adventure, learn about the trail, river or area you plan to explore. Understanding what kind of terrain, weather and wildlife you may encounter can impact your overall experience. With relevant information including maps and a recent local forecast, prepare accordingly with appropriate clothing, footwear and equipment. By planning ahead, you’ll know that hiking to Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon requires a permit and that no dogs or fishing are allowed.

Other basic planning tips: let a third party know where you are going and bring plenty of water or other source of hydration, as well as snacks to keep your energy levels up.

Stick to the Trail

Bikes on the Glenwood Canyon Recreation PathIt’s important to stay on designated trails and avoid shortcuts or off-trail exploration. This not only helps protect the environment by avoiding erosion and preserving fragile habitats for wildlife, but it also decreases the risk of personal injury from tripping, falling or getting lost. You’ll notice places on Red Mountain Trails are blocked with logs, branches or other debris to discourage hikers from taking shortcuts. Sticking to the trail also allows terrain damaged by overuse time to recover naturally. Similarly, when camping, it’s important to use designated campsites and to set up at least 200 feet away from water sources to avoid disturbing wildlife and prevent waterway contamination.

Leave It As You Found It

Wild flowers along the Colorado RiverAnother key to responsible outdoor exploration in Glenwood Springs is leaving things as you found them. This means refraining from picking a bouquet of wildflowers, carving your initials or other graffiti into trees, or taking historical or cultural items from their natural setting. It also entails taking steps to prevent the spread of invasive species by cleaning your gear including shoes, bike tires and angling equipment before and after an outing. The micro-organism hitchhikers, for example, have the potential to devastate native populations of rainbow and cutthroat trout in the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers.

Trash the Trash

Leashed dog by Doc Holliday MemorialWhether paragliding from the top of Red Mountain, mountain biking down Grandstaff Trail or hoofing it to Doc Holliday’s memorial marker, you’ll want to take in beautiful views all around Glenwood Springs. Just be sure to pack out any trash including natural refuse like citrus peels and apple cores. If you notice someone else’s trash, don’t be afraid to tidy up and leave the place better than you found it. Remember too, if you’re hiking with your dog, keep fido on a leash and don’t line the trail with little green bags of poo. Be sure to clean up after your pooch and properly dispose of biowaste in a trash can.

Keep Wildlife Wild

Caution Wildlife Sign

Glenwood Springs is wildlife habitat! Don’t be surprised to see bald eagles, wild turkeys and vultures as well as mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep. On occasion, you might spy foxes and even black bears. It’s important to remember that these creatures are not pets, but wild animals. Keeping a safe distance is the best way to admire them. How close can you get? A good “rule of thumb” is that when you hold up your hand, if you can cover the whole animal with your thumb, you’re at a safe distance. When camping, keep in mind you’re not the only one who thinks those steaks grilling in the firepit smell delightful. Store food safely in airtight cars, lockers or canisters to prevent dangerous encounters with predators.

Be Careful with Fire

Group making a safe campfireIt was a small spark that ignited the Grizzly Creek Fire in 2020 that rampaged through Glenwood Canyon and threatened homes, businesses and lives. Fortunately, no one was injured. The woodlands around Glenwood Springs can become a tinderbox, especially in summer. If camping in the area, always check to see if fires are permissible. If so, keep them small and manageable, and never leave fires unattended. When extinguishing, make sure the coals are cold to the touch.

Sharing Trails, Parks & Rivers

Wave surfers waiting their turn at the Whitewater Park

There’s room to roam for everyone in Glenwood Springs. Outdoor spaces are meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone. Some tips for a positive experience include monitoring your group’s noise level while camping or hiking, giving an appropriate amount of space to those on the trail or riverbank, and keeping dogs leashed so they don’t scare people or chase wildlife.

Surrounded by mountains and blessed with two rivers, Glenwood Springs is a destination for outdoor enthusiasts of every level and ability. But along with all the beauty, comes responsibility. It’s up to all of us to take care of these natural wonders so they remain pristine for generations to come. Learn more and make plans for an outdoor adventure in Glenwood Springs that’s as exciting as it is environmentally friendly!

Learn more about responsible recreation at Do Colorado Right.

Download the official Glenwood Springs Travel Guide

Find Glenwood Springs Lodging

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Visit Glenwood Springs

Hanging Lake winter hiking reservations are now available. Visit the Hanging Lake page HERE for more information and the booking portal. 

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