• hanging lake

Hike Hanging Lake: Permits & Information

The Hanging Lake  Trail is OPEN, reservations available on this page, below.

Hanging Lake is a Colorado treasure and a rare example of a travertine geological formation located in the heart of Glenwood Canyon on the White River National Forest. The 1.2 mile (1.9 km) trail is steep, rigorous and rocky but rewarding. This Natural National Landmark features awe-inspiring scenery and gentle waterfalls! The Hanging Lake trail is a backcountry hike. The trail is steep and rocky. 

The permit cost is $12/per person.

  • Hikers can choose between two options which include either self-drive and park in the Hanging Lake rest area or bike/hike through Glenwood Canyon to the trailhead. Both permits are the same cost and have the same hiking time slot inventory available.
  • Hikers will be asked to present their permit upon arrival in the Hanging Lake rest area, only people with permits will be allowed to park in the Hanging Lake rest area.
  • Hiking permits are available for hourly reservations starting at 6:30 am – 5:30 pm. Hikers will not be allowed to access the trailhead after 5:45 pm.

Fees pay for the reservation service, visitor information, trail supervisors, sanitization of touch-areas and restrooms, conservation and interpretation services during your visit. It also covers maintenance, additional staffing and communications.

  • Reservations cannot be cancelled or rescheduled within 48 hours of your departure day.
  • To change or reschedule your reservation before 48 hours of your departure day please use the online reservation portal.
  • All confirmed reservations will receive detailed cancellation policies via email.
  • Hanging Lake Rest area access will operate under the safety guidelines developed by Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).  Guests will be notified of this policy in their reservation confirmation email.
  • Reservations will be issued rescheduled permits or refunds if there are Glenwood Canyon closures.
  • Bike reservations will be allowed to transfer over to car access if the Bike trail is closed.

Hanging Lake Call Center

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 970-384-6309
  • The Hanging Lake Call Center will be open Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm through the month of April
  • Beginning May 1 – October 31, the Call Center will be open 7 days a week 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
  • Purchase one hiking permit per hiker and self-park at the Hanging Lake Rest Area (I70 Exit 125), hike to Hanging Lake from there.
  • Purchase a hiking permit and hike/bike through Glenwood Canyon to the Hanging Lake trailhead.

Please review the FAQ’s before making your reservation.

  • Hanging Lake trail climbs up a steep canyon to reach the lake. The trail continuously climbs 1000 ft (305 m) to reach the lake.
  • Walking off the trail and short cutting switchbacks is not permitted.
  • There is no restroom at the lake. Use facilities at the trailhead before hiking.
  • Always wear sturdy footwear, not flip flops.
  • Bring plenty of water.
  • Be advised that there is no cell service on the trail.
  • Standing on the log, swimming and fishing in the lake are prohibited!
  • In accordance with FAA safety and Forest Service guidelines, drones should not be flown in the Hanging Lake area.
  • From October through April: The trail may be icy all winter. Please be prepared for a steep and slippery trail with compacted ice and snow. Traction footware is recommended.
  • Dogs and/or other pets are NOT allowed on the Hanging Lake trail or at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center.
  • Find pet boarding options HERE! 

Before you hike:

Make a Reservation for a Permit to Hike Hanging Lake

Frequently Asked Questions about Hanging Lake

While Hanging Lake itself was not burned in the Grizzly Creek Fire, the fire burned much of the area above the lake and trail. Some areas of the trail were also burned, as was a large portion of Glenwood Canyon. Public safety continues to be the priority, and there is a long-term risk of post-fire flooding and debris flow. The White River National Forest has worked with a number of stakeholders including the Colorado Department of Transportation on short and long-term mitigation measures. Hikers holding permits to use the trail will receive detailed information regarding emergency procedures.

The Forest Service won’t know for a while what long-term impacts will be because the health of Hanging Lake is directly tied to hydrology of the area. Fire-related erosion and runoff getting into the fragile lake ecosystem is a major concern.  The Forest Service is working with experts on mitigation efforts to protect the area. For donations to help with trail maintenance in Glenwood Canyon check out the Glenwood Canyon Restoration Alliances:
Donate to the Glenwood Canyon Restoration Fund! 

The hike to Hanging Lake is a moderate to difficult hike up into a narrow drainage for 1.2 miles with over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. It is important that hikers are prepared for elevation, strenuous climbs, and rocky conditions. Bring water, snacks, sunscreen and appropriate footwear and clothing.

Yes, bikers/hikers need a reservation and can bike to the trailhead and hike to the lake, year-round at any time.

Noyou will not need a reservation if you are not hiking to Hanging Lake. Parking for bicycle access for Glenwood Canyon is not available at the Hanging Lake exit.

No, dogs and/or other pets are not allowed on the Hanging Lake Trail or at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center. Please visit visitglenwood.com/dog-daycare/ for dog-boarding options.

Although your animal may serve critical functions for you, ESAs, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA. 

ESAs are not recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore are not allowed in areas that do not allow dogs, including the Hanging Lake trail. There are multiple kennel services in Glenwood Springs that can care for your animal while you hike to Hanging Lake. In addition, there are miles of trails throughout the White River National Forest that do not have restrictions on pets that may be a better fit for your needs.

Restroom facilities are available at the Hanging Lake trailhead along with a water fountain and picnic tables. Restroom facilities and drinking water are not available along the trail or at the lake; please pack water and snacks with you and remember to pack it out and Leave No Trace!

There is no cell service at Hanging Lake. The area will be staffed in case of an emergency during the peak season.

  • At this time, there are not special rates for children ages 3+, seniors and military.
  • Please call for information about children under two years of age.
  • Please call for group or special interest requests.

Revenue goes toward the partnership and long-term sustainability of operations and management of Hanging Lake and stewardship of this National Natural Landmark.

The partnership allows for the City of Glenwood Springs and the Forest Service to cost share and to cooperatively develop, plan, and implement projects that are mutually beneficial to the Hanging Lake area and provide local residents and visitors with high quality recreation experiences and excellent customer service.

The overall goal of this management plan is to implement and maintain the Hanging Lake Area to achieves these goals:

  • Protect natural resources
  • Manage congestion
  • Enhance public safety
  • Improve visitor experience
  • Support local tourism

Care for Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake was formed by a geological fault which caused the lake bed to drop away from the valley floor above. Over the years, water flowing over Bridal Veil Falls has deposited dissolved carbonates to build up the fragile lake edge. Because of its uniqueness, the area was designated a National Natural Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 2011.

Over the years the popularity of the area has increased leading to vegetation and trail damage and overcrowding. A management plan was put in place in 2018 to protect this natural wonder into the future. A percentage of the fees collected for reservations will be reinvested into the long-term stewardship and sustainability of Hanging Lake. The implementation of the permit system, environmental education and interpretation program will help visitors play an active role in protecting the ecological health of Hanging Lake, improve the visitor experience and support the local tourism economy.

Know Before You Go

  • This land really is your land. Our state and federal agencies manage 42 percent of Colorado’s majestic landscape, and our cities and counties maintain even more. Learn about and respect the spaces we all own, share and sing about.
  • Stay back from the pack. Find your way to less-visited and off-peak destinations to minimize down time and maximize your connection with special places.
  • Bring along reusable water bottles or hot drink tumblers to limit waste and stay hydrated in our dry climate.

Stick To Trails

  • With 39,000 marked trails and 13,000 designated campsites, there’s no need to venture beyond. By sticking to these areas and camping at least 200 feet from lakes, rivers and streams, you’re helping natural areas stay natural.
  • Even though shortcuts can be tempting, please don’t take them. A few extra strides on the path will protect plants and the homes of the true locals.

Trash the Trash

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Or pick it up to leave a place better than you found it. Put litter, even crumbs, peels and cores in your nearest waste/recycling bin.
  • Wash yourself, your dog or whatever else needs cleaning at least 200 feet from waterways, and use biodegradable soap. A bubble bath is no treat for fish.

Leave It As You Find It

  • Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others experience the joy of discovery.
  • Any of our 750 different species of wildflowers will live forever in a photo. Snap away, but only with a camera.
  • Colorado is beautiful all on its own. Building structures or campsites on public land isn’t cool. Keep it pristine for everyone to enjoy.
  • Treat all living things with respect. Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.

Be Careful With Fire

  • Colorado’s low humidity has perks, but can create dry, dangerous conditions. Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires.
  • When putting out a fire, water it until you can handle the embers. Never let a fire burn unattended.
  • Use care when smoking in Colorado’s dry climate. Always put cigarettes out completely and don’t leave your butts behind.
  • Always check for local fire restrictions.

Keep Wildlife Wild

  • Colorado is home to tens of thousands of furry, scaly and feathered creatures. To keep them – and you – safe, don’t approach them.
  • It is not adorable to feed wild animals. You could alter natural behaviors, exposing them to predators or even euthanasia.
  • Keep your furry buddies leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails, and pack out their waste. All the way to a trashcan.

Share Our Trails & Parks

  • Chances are you’re not out in nature to people watch, so try out the lesser-known paths and sites.
  • Silence your cell phone before stepping into nature and speak softly without using the speaker function.
  • Be considerate when passing others on the trails and yield to the uphill hiker and biker – they need the momentum.
  • Listen to nature. Keep your voice and music soft so all can enjoy the peace of Colorado.

Contact Information

We are committed to answer all questions & concerns!

Please make sure to check out the FAQs above before calling or emailing:
[email protected]
970-384-6309

Be Prepared To Visit Hanging Lake

U.S. Forest Service   Visit Glenwood

Hanging Lake Express is provided by H2O Ventures.

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