Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon is one of Colorado’s most popular hiking destinations and it’s easy to know why — the lake’s waters are an incredible shade of turquoise and the waterfalls are hypnotic. But the beautiful natural scene that is now a National Natural Landmark has become way too appealing in the past few years, to the point where tourism was deteriorating the site’s ecological health.
Visit Glenwood explained, “Over the years the popularity of the area has increased leading to vegetation and trail damage and overcrowding. […] 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.”
This year is the first time that a permit is required to visit Hanging Lake and it’s already flooding with reservations. According to The Denver Post, on April 14, only 14 days after the opening of the reservation system, 6,180 hikers had already signed up for a spot for the 2019 season that starts on May 1.
The permits cost $12 per person from May 1 to October 1 and $10 per person from November 1 to April 30, and can be reserved on the official website or by phone at the Hanging Lake visitor information line: (970) 384-6309. According to Visit Glenwood, “A percentage of the fees collected for reservations will be reinvested into the long-term stewardship and sustainability of Hanging Lake.”
The hike to reach it is a steep 1.2-mile trail that climbs 1,000 feet up from the bottom of Glenwood Canyon. Personal vehicles are not allowed to park at the trailhead during peak season, but there’s a shuttle that operates daily.