Reservations for permit to hike Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon open April 1

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Beca Cooper, of Colorado Springs, snaps a shot of Hanging Lake last weekend before the site closed for maintenance work this week. The Hanging Lake Trail and parking lot in Glenwood Canyon remain closed through Saturday, and will be closed again from Oct. 15-17 for routine parking lot and trail maintenance. This Saturday, volunteers are needed to help with a Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers work day. Tasks will include installing stone steps, sanding and staining benches, and restoring impacted areas. To learn more about volunteering or sign-up for this or other projects, go to
Jerry Raehal/Post Independent

Reservations for the new hiking permit and shuttle system to visit Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon this year open at 10 a.m. on Monday.

The city of Glenwood Springs and the U.S. Forest Service in February announced formal plans for the Hanging Lake shuttle and permit system that grew out of a multi-year effort to develop a management plan for the area.

The move is aimed at controlling the number of visitors to the popular area east of Glenwood Springs at 615 people per day.

Reservations can be made at via a credit card, or by phone by calling 970-384-6309, according to a city press release. Groups of 20 or more should call that number to make a reservation.

In addition, reservations can be made in person starting on May 1, when the new hiking permit and shuttle system is set to go into effect, at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center, 110 Wulfsohn Road, Glenwood Springs (next to the Glenwood Springs Community Center).

Reservations for a permit to visit Hanging Lake will cost $12 per person, which includes the shuttle to and from the trailhead.

Those wishing to bike or hike to the trailhead via the Glenwood Canyon bike path must still reserve a permit. Some permits have been set aside for an “early-bird” biking reservation special rate of $9.50, from April 1 through May 1, or until bike reservations fill up.

The early bird permits are good for any date during the 2019 season, but after May 1 those biking or hiking to the trailhead will need to reserve a regular $12 permit. 

The shuttle system is to run from May 1 through Oct. 31, daily from 6:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. Shuttles will depart from the welcome center and drop visitors off at the Hanging Lake trailhead.

The shuttle and permit system culminates a six-year planning effort to address parking problems at the trailhead, and overcrowding and overuse issues at Hanging Lake, including violation of rules such as no dogs and no wading or fishing at the lake.

In recent years, without a management plan in place, the area had seen upwards of 1,200 visitors on peak days. The Forest Service had also begun using parking attendants to control access in and out when the parking lot was full, and to prevent illegal parking.

Under the new plan, from May 1 through Oct. 31, the Hanging Lake parking lot will be closed to personal vehicles. During the off-peak season, from November through April, visitors will be allowed to park on site but will still need to book a $10 permit through the reservation system to hike the trail.

According to the city’s news release, when the shuttle is running, visitors should plan on three hours from the time they are dropped off at the trailhead until they are picked up.

If visitors choose to shorten or extend their time at Hanging Lake, they can be placed on standby for an earlier or later shuttle back to Glenwood Springs, according to the release. 

Hanging Lake will continue to remain open year-round, except during occasional closures to do trail maintenance work. During the off-peak season, visitors can bike or drive to the trailhead. Shuttles will not be provided during the off-peak season.

The Forest Service and city of Glenwood Springs announced formal plans Feb. 22 for the city, in contract with Glenwood-based H2O Ventures, to operate the reservation system and shuttle service.


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