• Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon

Hanging Lake is a crystal-clear, travertine lake located high atop the cliffs of Glenwood Canyon. Suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon‘s cliffs, the clear turquoise lake and the waterfalls that spill into it are a breathtaking sight after the rigorous uphill climb. The mile-long hike is steep and rigorous, but rewarding once you see the natural beauty that awaits you at the top. Hanging Lake is a geologic wonder and is popular with travelers for its awe-inspiring beauty and gentle Colorado waterfalls!

This precious natural wonder is one we all must work together to protect by respecting the rules. Before heading to Hanging Lake, please download the regulations. Help yourself prepare with this handy list of recommendations as well as with the following FAQs and information below.

Hanging Lake Trail FAQs

Visit Hanging Lake Like a Local

  • Go early or late: fewer crowds and more parking in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Visit mid-week: weekends are crowded, visit mid-week for fewer crowds and congestion.
  • Ride a bike: Riding a bike from Glenwood Springs is a great way to beat the parking lot.
  • Be Patient: during high-visitation times the parking lot is consistently full. You may have to wait in line!
  • Remember Safety: Parking is prohibited on I-70, remember to bring sturdy hiking shoes and water for the hike.
  • Protect Hanging Lake: Dogs are prohibited on the trail and at Hanging Lake. Swimming, fishing, and standing on the log are also prohibited at the lake. Please stay on the trail and do not ‘cut’ switchbacks. This leads to trail erosion and vegetation damage.

Strictly Prohibited at Hanging Lake

There are NO exceptions for the following activities at Hanging Lake:

  • Swimming
  • Dipping body parts into the water
  • Standing under or on top of waterfalls
  • Walking on the fallen trees within the lake itself
  • No Dogs
  • No Fishing
  • Parking Illegally (see Parking Information)

This is because of the detrimental effects of introducing unnatural elements into the delicate ecosystem. No dogs are allowed on the trail or at the lake, nor are they allowed to be left in vehicles at the trailhead. Fishing is also prohibited. It is not only our responsibility to police our own actions and that of our families and friends, but also to gently remind other visitors that may not be aware of the rules and why they exist.

Did You Know?

Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed by travertine deposition! Here, the natural geologic and hydrologic processes continue to operate as they have done for thousands of years. Hanging Lake was designated a National Natural Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 2011. Since then, its popularity has exploded and the Forest Service and their partners are implementing measures to protect this natural wonder.

Difficulty Level

Although only a mile in length, the trail is steep and very rocky. Hikers should wear sturdy shoes with good tread. Be aware that there is little to no mobile phone coverage. Bring water as there is no potable water available. Be aware that in winter the trail can be very icy. Crampons are recommended.

  • Trail Length: 1.2 miles (one way)
  • Trial Difficulty: More Difficult-steep and rocky
  • Trail Use: High Use
  • Average Time Round Trip: Allow for 2-3 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft.


There is a parking lot at the Hanging Lake rest area just off I-70.

The Hanging Lake exit can only be reached by driving on I-70 East through Glenwood Cayon towards Denver.

If you are driving on I-70 West through Glenwood Canyon, you need to get off the interstate at the Grizzly Creek exit to switch directions and get back on I-70 East to access the Hanging Lake exit.

The rest area does provide basic services including restrooms, picnic tables, and water fountains. Parking here is limited so we recommend arriving early or going on weekdays.

Who To Contact?

White River National Forest
900 Grand Avenue
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

Updates on Management Changes:

Utilizing collaborative partnerships, the Hanging Lake Area Management Plan has been finalized and with it a way forward to protect this unique resource. A permit and shuttle system is anticipated to begin during the 2019 summer season!

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