‘Responsible tourism:’ Hanging Lake to reopen June 1 to no more than 128 visitors daily
In 2019, the U.S. Forest Service and city of Glenwood Springs entered into a formal partnership to curtail the number of visitors to Hanging Lake.
This year, the trail to the National Natural Landmark will reopen June 1 but to less hikers than before as a result of COVID-19.
During last year’s peak season (May 1 – Oct. 31), no more than 615 visitors were allowed to access the trailhead on any given day. They also needed a permit in order to do so.
Beginning June 1, only 128 visitors will be able to hike to Hanging Lake each day and must still purchase a permit ahead of time.
“Opening up Hanging Lake, whatever the numbers were going to be, sent a message that we were open, but we were open responsibly,” said Ken Murphy, H20 Ventures co-owner. “I call it ‘responsible tourism.'”
Last year, the forest service and city of Glenwood Springs awarded H20 Ventures the contract to run the Hanging Lake Shuttle service, which transported visitors from the Hanging Lake Welcome Center at 110 Wulfsohn Road to the trailhead approximately 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs.
Due to the pandemic, the Hanging Lake Shuttle service has been temporarily suspended and the welcome center will also remain closed until further notice.
Permit holders will instead be allowed to park their vehicles at the Hanging Lake Rest Area off Interstate 70 or bike to the trailhead.
Both options still require a permit, which costs $12 per person and can be purchased online or over the phone.
Eight groups, comprised of no more than 16 hikers each, will hike to Hanging Lake every day with the first group departing at 6:30 a.m. and the last one at 5 p.m.
Hikers will be asked to follow social distancing guidelines, such as staying six feet apart from each other.
Additionally, designated passing zones have been marked along the trail and staff members will help coordinate the safe passing of ascending and descending groups.
“The experience is going to be phenomenal,” Murphy said.
The reservation system went live Monday morning and as of 2 p.m. more than 2,500 people had already secured a permit to Hanging Lake for the coming peak season according to Murphy.
“It’s very integral to our tourism season,” said Lisa Langer, Visit Glenwood Springs Director of Tourism Promotion.
In order to purchase a Hanging Lake permit online, one must access visitglenwood.com, which also lists many of the city’s other attractions including its lodging facilities and restaurants.
“They’ll see all the things to do,” Langer said. “Having Hanging Lake open on June 1 is going to be so wonderful.”
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Roaring Fork Valley residents have an opportunity to give their opinion on the current level of tourism activity in surveys being conducted for the local tourism offices.