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Glenwood Canyon from above

Nature’s Timing and the Opening of Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path

The Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path that meanders through Glenwood Canyon is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially cyclists. However, the beloved paved surface experiences periodic closures, especially in springtime. Have you ever wondered why?

Bikes on the Glenwood Canyon Recreation PathWith the arrival of the longer, warmer Spring days, everyone is itching to spend more time playing outside. In Glenwood Springs, that means hitting the many hiking and biking trails around town. While most trails, paved and unpaved are open for recreation year-round, there is one that isn’t—just yet.

The opening of the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path, a 16-mile paved pathway that traverses the length of Glenwood Canyon, is situational. There’s a reason the town can’t say for sure it will be open by a specific date because only nature knows the answer. And, that answer depends on a trio of factors.

1. Winter Weather
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) which maintains Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon doesn’t plow or maintain the Glenwood Springs Recreation Path in winter. As a result, a season’s worth of snow, ice, gravel, and dirt accumulates on the path making it impassible for several months.

2. Spring Runoff
The primary reason for the delay in opening the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path is the phenomenon known as spring runoff. As temperatures rise and snowmelt cascades down from the surrounding mountains, the Colorado River swells, inundating the path in places and rendering it unsafe for public use. The swift currents can carry debris including rocks, trees, and mud making it imperative for CDOT to close the path until water levels subside.

3. Maintenance and Repairs
Once the river is at a safe level, CDOT maintenance crews can get busy with cleanup operations. Their work often includes more than sweeping dirt and debris from the path’s surface. Damage to the concrete or railings and barriers might also need to take place.

Seasonal Reopening

Typically, the path welcomes cyclists and pedestrians back in June, once the waters have receded, and conditions have stabilized. To find out the status, visitors can call CDOT Region 3, Monday through Friday at (970) 243-2368 Ext. 9. When the path is open, you can count on a season filled with exploration, exercise, and unforgettable experiences that last well into fall.
There are alternative paved hiking biking trails throughout Glenwood Springs including the Rio Grande Trail that connects Glenwood Springs to Aspen through the Roaring Fork River Valley.

Rest Stops Provide Access to Canyon Scenery

Even if the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path is closed, visitors can still immerse themselves in the stunning beauty of Glenwood Canyon by driving and making stops at the canyon’s rest areas. Far from just a respite for weary travelers, rest areas are hubs for information about canyon geology, history, and wildlife; they also offer access to hiking trails and picnic areas.

• No Name Rest Area. Situated at the confluence of No Name Creek and the Colorado River, No Name Rest Area boasts stunning vistas of the canyon walls and the meandering river below. Visitors can relax at the picnic area or embark on a short hike to explore the surrounding wilderness.
• Grizzly Creek Rest Area. Grizzly Creek runs through Dead Horse Canyon and empties into the Colorado River. For a stunning riverside hike, follow this out-and-back trail for a couple of miles. There are plenty of places to picnic and enjoy the views.
• Bair Ranch Rest Area. Named for the historic Bair Ranch, this site offers a glimpse into Colorado’s ranching heritage. With panoramic views of rugged landscapes and grazing sheep, it’s a charming spot to savor a picnic lunch.

By understanding the reasons behind the delay in opening the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path, visitors can better appreciate nature’s role in calling the shots for safely exploring the wonders of Glenwood Canyon. Learn more about vacationing in the mountain town of Glenwood Springs and make your plans to visit today!

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Visit Glenwood Springs

Reservations to hike Hanging Lake are released on a weekly basis every Tuesday at 8:00 am MDT. 

 Visit the Hanging Lake page HERE for more information and the booking portal.