City officials want Hanging Lake visitors pointed to downtown Glenwood Springs

Matthew Bennett
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Between May 1 and Oct. 31 of this year, over 75,000 people hiked to Hanging Lake.

The city of Glenwood Springs would like those same hikers to visit the historic downtown area before or after their visit to the natural national landmark in Glenwood Canyon, too.

“There’s a fine line there,” Ken Murphy, H20 Ventures co-owner, said at a recent City Council meeting. “Of providing the service and not also pushing and taking an agenda.”

In the fall of 2018, the U.S. Forest Service and city of Glenwood Springs partnered to implement a reservation and shuttle service for Hanging Lake, largely, to curb overcrowding.

2019 was the inaugural year for the shuttle service, which H20 Ventures — a partnership between Glenwood Adventure Co., Adventure Office and Peak 1 Express — provided.

During peak season (May 1 to Oct. 31), the Hanging Lake shuttle largely bypassed Glenwood Springs’ downtown.

According to Murphy, the shuttle departed from the Hanging Lake Welcome Center (110 Wulfsohn Road) in the Meadows and traveled along Midland Avenue before getting on I-70 at exit 114 in West Glenwood.

From West Glenwood, the Hanging Lake Shuttle remained on I-70 eastbound until the Hanging Lake exit.

Given its practicality, that route likely will not change for the 2020 season.

However, next year the city may look to incorporate signage at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center that points people in the direction of the historic downtown area.

According to Murphy, hikers often exited the shuttle at the welcome center following their trip to Hanging Lake hungry and thirsty.

Currently, little to no signage at or around the Hanging Lake Welcome Center directs visitors to myriad eating and drinking establishments and other businesses in the downtown area, just a short distance away.

“This would be vehicular signage that would be in the same format of what’s already on Grand Avenue,” said Laura Kirk, Downtown Development Authority executive director. “That points people to lodging, shopping and other things like that.”

According to a presentation delivered by Murphy to City council, during the peak season nearly 50,000 hikers (66.3%) said they visited downtown Glenwood Springs either before or after their hike to Hanging Lake.

A little over 25,000 (33.7%) hikers reported they did not go to the downtown area.

“We as a community, we can do a better job with our wayfinding,” Murphy said. “If that’s the biggest issue we have coming out of this, you know, I think everybody should be happy where we are right now.

“I think it’s a simple fix,” Murphy said to council members.

When asked Friday if the city had any plans to extend the Hanging Lake shuttle service to a year-round format, city manager Debra Figueroa said no.

“While the city is very pleased that the first year of the Hanging Lake shuttle service was successful, there are no plans to run the system through the entire year,” Figueroa said. “The contract we have with the Forest Service is just from May 1 to Oct. 31.”


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