Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake is the Gem of Glenwood Canyon

There's a good reason this is one of the most popular hikes in the state of Colorado. Geologically speaking, there are few places in the world that can compare to this marvel of Mother Nature. Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed by travertine deposition where the natural geologic and hydro-logic processes continue to operate as they have done throughout the history of the lake. The site is also noteworthy for its thriving hanging garden plant community. Because of these qualities Hanging Lake was designated a National natural Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 2011.

While Hanging Lake may be a geologic wonder, its popularity with Colorado travelers has more to do with its awe-inspiring beauty. Suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon's cliffs, the clear turquoise lake and the waterfall that spills into it are a breathtaking sight after the uphill climb. The stocked lake is teeming with native trout, but don't think about bringing fishing gear or even your dog, both are strictly prohibited on this hike. Instead, bring your camera to capture memories of this photogenic site.

The Hanging Lake trail-head is located approximately 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs along Interstate-70 in Glenwood Canyon. The trail follows Dead Horse Creek, with foot bridges spanning the creek along the way. If the trail seems a little rigorous, hikers can take a break at one of many convenient rest spots. Near the top, the trail becomes rocky and steep, but handrails help guide visitors to the boardwalk that frames a portion of the lake. Since you made the trek to Hanging Lake, be sure to follow the signs the short distance to Spouting Rock, where icy water from snow-melt high atop the Flat Tops barrels through a narrow hole in the limestone rock, spraying hikers with an invigorating mist of cold water.

Though the trail is only a little over a mile long, it is steep and rocky in places. Hikers are advised to bring adequate hydration and wear sturdy shoes. Because the trail is so popular, parking can be a challenge during the peak summer weekends.

Parking Advice
When the parking lot is full, it is best to exit and return another time. Parking on the entrance or exit ramps of I-70 is prohibited. Please follow all posted directions at the parking area, on the trail, and at the lake. Go when it’s slow: to limit traffic, visitors should plan their trip to Hanging Lake for a quieter time—such as a week day, or during the winter season, or plan alternative transportation to the parking lot. Peak visitation occurs on weekends and in the summer. The trail-head is busy daily from mid-morning to late afternoon. The trail-head can also be accessed via the Glenwood Canyon recreation path. Visitors are encouraged to ride their bike from Glenwood Springs, No Name or Bair Ranch rest areas. By observing these rules and suggestions, we can keep Hanging Lakes a treasured recreation site for many years to come.

Hanging Lake - In the NEWS!

Six new sites, including Hanging Lake, have been added to the roster of National Natural Landmarks.

Denver Post
Hanging Lake Added to National Natural Landmarks
Background on the National Natural Landmarks program

Denver Business Journal
Salazar Adds 2 Natural Landmarks

GJ Sentinel
Hanging Lake Designated at Natural Landmark



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