Glenwood Springs City Council to revive community conversation on South Canyon hot springs and parkland development |

Glenwood Springs City Council to revive community conversation on South Canyon hot springs and parkland development

The hot pots located in South Canyon just west of Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Glenwood Springs City Council will revive discussions of developing 3,000 acres of designated parkland in South Canyon — which includes the hot springs pool commonly known as Hippie Hot Springs — into a managed tourist destination.

The council is slated to discuss the development of a South Canyon Area Parks Plan to address how to proceed with transforming and developing the property to protect the ecosystem and historical sites in the area.

“The plan will help to move forward on a clear path of action that will balance needs for preservation and protection with the advantages of enhanced public access to this unique public amenity. Potential recreation will include new mountain bike trails that highlight the canyon’s historic, 19th century coal mining sites; a safe designated campground that will reduce illegal camping and mitigate associated wildfire risks; and a clean, developed hot springs destination,” meeting documents state.

The site includes the city landfill, a shooting range and vast unmanaged lands.

“The hot springs pool is a popular spot for locals to venture despite insufficient filtration flow and unhealthy fecal form bacteria levels,” according to meeting documents.

“The key deliverable will be an improvement plan that addresses the misuse happening in the canyon, outlines potential approaches for enhancing public access and enjoyment of the area, and provides a framework for protection of the ecosystem and habitat that will bring awareness to this unique public amenity.”

The partners and stakeholders to be engaged in the planning process, include:

• Concerned Garfield County and Glenwood Springs residents, who will be represented by the South Canyon Group Coalition

• Adventure groups, such as the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association

• Steve Beckley and other developers

• Colorado Department of Natural Resources and Colorado Parks and Wildlife

• Glenwood Springs city staff and council members

“The project will protect wildlife through addressing pollution and guiding smart development; promote public safety through cleaning up toxic waste and mitigating fire risk; connect people to the outdoors by enhancing recreational opportunities on bike trails and at the hot springs and inspire exploration of unique public lands that previously lacked sufficient infrastructure for access,” meeting documents state.

Glenwood Springs Public Information Officer Bryana Starbuck said the South Canyon planning item will be a very big community conversation about several challenges within the canyon.

“Due to the complexity and impact of the issues, staff believes that the next step for this topic would be to start with public outreach to create a plan for phased and area-autonomous South Canyon development and management. City Council will be asked to provide their direction on next steps,” Starbuck said in an email. “It is a complex topic with many passionate opinions and perspectives. Careful consideration and a thoughtful approach will be important as the discussion is refreshed.”

The City Council was slated to discuss the South Canyon planning agenda item at last Thursday’s meeting, but moved it to the June 3 meeting due to a packed May 20 meeting agenda.

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or

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