Hike Hanging Lake: Permits & Information

PLEASE NOTE!

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 is working with a number of stakeholders including the Colorado Department of Transportation on short and long-term mitigation measures. The forest will reopen Hanging Lake trail only after risks to life and safety can be reasonably addressed.
– White River National Forest Service

We will post the latest reopening information on this page as soon as it becomes available!

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.  However, the Forest Service will be working with experts on mitigation efforts to try to protect the area.
We understand that visitors have concerns about their reservations. Reservations may be cancelled at any time, however visitors may wish to donate their permit fee to the Hanging Lake restoration fund.

If visitors wish to donate to the Hanging Lake trail restoration fund, all they have to do is to not cancel their reservation. If they do so, 100% of their permit feel will go towards the Hanging Lake restoration fund. 

For donations the beyond the reservation cost please check out the Glenwood Canyon Restoration Alliances:
Donate to the Glenwood Canyon Restoration Fund! 

News from August 23, 2020:
Virtually none of the trail infrastructure was damaged, including all seven bridges, signage, the historic Civilian Conservation Corps shelter and the boardwalk along the south edge of the lake, Gilles said.  “We keep calling it a miracle, that not a single ember affected any of that,” she said, describing scorched areas and active hot spots right next to some of the bridges and even under the boardwalk. “The lake itself was just as gorgeous and blue as ever, the log, everything, was still intact,” she said, referencing the famous log that floats across part of the lake. Spouting rock, another unique geologic feature located above the lake, was also running clear as ever, she said. Gilles and Fitzwilliams figure the damp lake environment, green vegetation and cooler canyon temperatures, plus steep cliffs on three sides of the lake and drop-off below it, helped protect the fragile natural feature.

.

Please note that the Hanging Lake call center has been inundated with the volume of calls, please be patient as the staff is trying to work through this difficult situation. For questions about existing reservations please contact: [email protected] or call 970-384-6309

PLEASE NOTE!

At this time, the hiking, permit & social distancing information below is irrelevant as the Hanging Lake Trail is closed due to the Grizzly Creek Fire.

About Hanging Lake

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 initial social distancing plan included 128 permits per day, spaced out in 8 small groups. As of July 1st there will be 240 permitted hikers allowed per day. The sale of the additional permits started on June 29, 2020. Phase 2 of the social distancing plan still limits the group sizes and minimizes contacts, while allowing for more people to enjoy the National Natural Landmark.

The permit cost is $12/per person.

  • 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.

Learn more about the temporary social distancing plan introduced on June 1st: HERE

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.

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 email [email protected] call 970-384-6309 and have your reservation number ready!

Contact Information

We are committed to answer all questions & concerns!
Please make sure to check out our FAQs before calling or emailing:
[email protected]
970-384-6309

  • 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 will be icy all winter, no matter the weather in town or at the parking area. Please be prepared for a steep and slippery trail with compacted ice.
  • 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! 
Please read FAQs below!

Before you hike:

Frequently Asked Questions about Hanging Lake

Please scroll to next FAQ section for questions about the temporary social distancing plan at Hanging Lake starting June 1, 2020.

Reservations can be made online on this page visitglenwood.com/hanginglake.

A reservation to hike costs $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.

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.

Reservations cannot be cancelled or rescheduled within 48 hours of your departure day.
To change or reschedule your reservation please call 970-384-6309!

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

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.

Restroom facilities are available at the Hanging Lake trailhead along with a water fountain and picnic tables. Restroom facilities and drinking water is 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!

At this time there are not special rates for children, seniors and the military. Please call for special requests and Babies under two years of age.

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

Noyou will not need a reservation if you are not hiking to Hanging Lake.

At a minimum, 5% of overall revenue goes back toward the partnership and long- term sustainability of operations and management of Hanging Lake and stewardship of this special place.

The partnership allows for the City 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, as well as the American public, with high quality recreation experiences and excellent customer service.

The overall goal of this management Plan is to create and implement a management system for the Hanging Lake Area that is sustainable and achieves these goals:

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

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.

FAQs about the Social Distancing Plan at Hanging Lake

COVID-19 Social Distancing Measures

The widely successful Hanging Lake permit system is starting its second season. While the shuttle system proved itself as an ideal solution to manage Hanging Lake visitation during the 2019 peak season, some temporary changes and significant adjustments needed to be made to allow for social distancing due to the COVID-19 crisis.

A special management plan is required for this situation, as the steep and narrow path doesn’t allow for safe passing of hikers on most sections of the trail.

The goal of the temporary social distancing plan for Hanging Lake is to allow the public to access the site while ensuring the safety of visitors and employees.

The Hanging Lake trail reopened to hikers on June 1st with smaller daily capacity to allow for social distancing.

  • The temporary Hanging Lake trail management plan can accommodate a maximum of 240 people per day spaced out in eight hiking groups/time slots.
  • Each of the eight reservable hiking time slots per day allow for a maximum of 30 hikers. However, hikers will be asked to practice social distancing within their assigned hiking group as well. Large groups of families or friends will be asked to split up to not exceed a group size of ten hikers.
  • The trail will have marked passing points to ensure social distancing when passing slower hikers within the hiking group. One main passing point will be designated at around mid-way of the trail to allow for the safe passing of the previous hiking group/time slot on their way downhill and the following hiking group on their way uphill. A trail supervisor will help coordinate the safe passing of groups.

A special management plan is required for this situation, as the steep and narrow path doesn’t allow for safe passing of hikers on most sections of the trail.

Visitors will have the potential to interact with up to 3 groups of 30 during their visit, or 90 other people. During normal shuttle operations, each user had the possibility to interact with 4 groups of 44, or 175 other people.

This plan assumes an understanding of current operations such as the reservation system, call center, cancelling policies, and restroom cleaning agreements. Phase II Social Distancing Plan increased visitation to Hanging Lake by 14 people per arrival time to a total of 30 guests every 90 minutes. This increase represents 40% of the total regular (non COVID-19) capacity of 615.

While the shuttle system proved itself as an ideal solution to manage Hanging Lake visitation during the 2019 peak season, some temporary changes and significant adjustments needed to be made to allow for social distancing due to the COVID-19 crisis. The goal of the temporary social distancing plan for Hanging Lake is to allow the public to access the site while ensuring the safety of visitors and employees.

Hikers must make a reservation online at visitglenwood.com/hanginglake before they arrive at the exit for the Hanging Lake trailhead. 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.

Please Note: While there are currently no shuttle operations, there are new costs associated with the COVID-19 safety measures. Fewer permits per day mean less budget to cover these costs.

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

At a minimum, 5% of overall revenue goes back toward the partnership and long- term sustainability of operations and management of Hanging Lake and stewardship of this special place.

The partnership allows for the City 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, as well as the American public, with high quality recreation experiences and excellent customer service.

Only hiking permit holders will be allowed to park at the rest area.

All hikers will require a permit. People without a permit will be asked to turn around and come back with a permit. Motorists should plan for construction and detours on I-70 when traveling to and from Hanging Lake. These include flaggers and traffic holds at the Westbound I-70 on-ramp when leaving the Hanging Lake Rest Area (mile point 125). This is to allow traffic to safely enter the head-to-head detour. Motorists must follow detour signs and flagger direction. Routing directions and more information about construction in Glenwood Canyon can be found here.

For current travel times in the Glenwood Canyon, please call or text 970-618-5379.

The Hanging Lake Partners realize that the COVID-19 situation is highly dynamic and safety measures can change frequently. The health and safety of our visitors and residents are top of mind.

Hikers will always receive the latest updates on safety measures with their permit confirmation email and additional communication if further changes occur. Parking attendants will assist those guests who self-park. Trail supervisors will help facilitate order and safety on the trail. We thank all hikers for their cooperation and patience as we address this entirely new challenge.

This temporary Hanging Lake hiking plan aims to allow hikers to enjoy the National Natural Landmark while social distancing and ensuring the highest possible safety for visitors and employees.

This social distancing hiking plan allows for a maximum of 240 people per day in comparison to the original US Forest Service management plan, which allows for 615 visitors per day. This plan represents a 60% reduction in potential social interactions between hikers. While this temporary plan asks for a more orderly managed hiking experience with extra safety measures such as, designated passing zones, it also allows for an even more remote hiking experience than the usual system.

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.

U.S. Forest Service   Visit Glenwood

Hanging Lake Express is provided by H2O Ventures.

Share your best Vacation Moments with VisitGlenwood!

Let’s connect and inspire each other …

@VisitGlenwood or #VisitGlenwood

Skip to content