Glenwood ranked fifth best town; magazine depicts Hanging Lake no-no |

Glenwood ranked fifth best town; magazine depicts Hanging Lake no-no

These photos depict Glenwood Springs in Outside online's ranking of the top towns in America. An earlier version of the presentation showing a man walking across the Hanging Lake log was changed at Glenwood Springs boosters' request.
Outside Magazine |

Remember the voting earlier this year when Glenwood Springs went up against other towns in Outside Magazine’s competition to be named the best place to live in America?

Glenwood won two rounds, topping Victor, Idaho; and Whitefish, Montana. Then it was outvoted by Port Angeles, Washington.

Outside this week published its top 16 towns, and put Glenwood Springs at No. 5 — though in doing so, it published a photo of a harmful activity at Hanging Lake.

First the magazine’s praise for Glenwood:

“A laid-back outpost of 10,000 some 160 miles west of Denver along I-70, downvalley from pricier burgs Aspen and Carbondale, Glenwood’s claim to fame has always been water: Its hot springs have attracted visitors for over a century,” Outside said. “But it has the chops of any Colorado adventure capital. Trails for running and biking lead to Glenwood Canyon and up Lookout Mountain, and in winter, skiers choose from five resorts, including Aspen and Snowmass.”

Glenwood boosters were thrilled with the ranking.

“Being named the fifth best place to live in America by Outside Magazine is an amazing honor,” said Marianne Virgili, president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Outside committed a faux pas in its presentation on Glenwood, however. It showed a smiling woman rafting through what appears to be the Glenwood Canyon. So far, so good.

But a second picture credited to a National Geographic photographer showed a barefoot guy walking on the log that stretches across most of Hanging Lake, which is banned. Signs say so, though apparently some visitors either can’t read or think the rules don’t apply to them.

Bill Kight, spokesman for the White River National Forest, was disappointed.

“Publishing such a photograph to a national/international audience is the last thing we want to see,” Kight said by email.

The trail to the lake, one of the most popular hikes in Colorado with visitors up 60 percent this year, is in danger of being overrun, and the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Department of Transportation and Glenwood Springs chamber are working to find solutions.

People breaking rules — bringing dogs or getting in the water — jeopardize the unique qualities of the tiny, fragile attraction.

Glenwood Springs backers quickly contacted Outside on Tuesday, when the rankings were posted online, notifying the editors that the photo showed an inappropriate activity.

Outside replaced the photo online Wednesday morning and added a footnote saying, “A previous version of this article showed someone walking across the log at Hanging Lake. That’s against the rules — don’t do it!”

Unfortunately, the log-walking photo appears in the September print version of the magazine.

Outside had choices.

“Although we provided a number of high-quality photos, one of which was a pristine photo of Hanging Lake sans people, the magazine’s art department chose to use other photography showing folks participating in outdoor activities,” said Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood chamber. “Vicky Nash, who handles tourism promotion media for Glenwood Springs, contacted the magazine fact checkers and editors immediately, and they responded quickly to swap out that photo in the online version.”

Added Virgili: “We sincerely appreciate Outside Magazine’s award and their responsiveness to this issue. The process of educating the media and general public about the responsible stewardship of this precious natural resource is ongoing.”

Jonah Ogles, a senior editor at Outside, told the Post Independent on Wednesday that editors would consider a correction or note in a future print edition. “We love Glenwood down here at Outside,” he noted.

In the rankings, Port Angeles, which topped Glenwood in the third round of public voting, finished No. 2. The best place to live, according to Outside, is Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“Neighborhoods are filling up with record stores, coffeehouses and restaurants, and breweries are opening that offer the perfect nightcaps to days spent on the trails, creeks, and crags,” Outside said of Chattanooga.

Among the other towns in the ranking, Pagosa Springs was No. 9.

To further validate that this is a pretty darned nifty place to live, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog this week ranked every county in the United States based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “natural amenities index,” which is “a measure of the physical characteristics of a county area that enhance the location as a place to live.”

Garfield County was 214th out of the nation’s 3,111 counties. Eagle County was 156th and Pitkin was 54th.

Tops in the country? Ventura County, California. Hamilton County, Tennessee, home to Chattanooga, was 747th — in the upper quartile, at least.

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