Hanging lake

Hanging Lake is pictured prior to the summer 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire in this Aspen Daily News file photo. Although Hanging Lake and the 1.2-mile-long trail leading to it did not endure much damage from the nearby fire, surrounding terrain did. 


Less than a year after the Grizzly Creek Fire scorched over 32,000 acres in Glenwood Canyon, Hanging Lake will reopen to visitors beginning May 1.

The National Natural Landmark in Glenwood Canyon was largely spared during last summer’s fire, which also shut down Interstate 70 for nearly two weeks.

Recalling the events of Aug. 10, when the Grizzly Creek Fire erupted, brought tears to the eyes of Lisa Langer, director of tourism promotion for Visit Glenwood Springs.

“We were so … so afraid, really, for that beautiful landmark,” Langer said Friday. “They thought [Hanging Lake] had been taken and then, boom, we found out it was back and it was such a great relief.”

Visitors to Hanging Lake will still need to book their reservations ahead of time, online, at visitglenwood.com and will be able to do so beginning April 1. Tickets to hike Hanging Lake cost $12.

“There are still going to be reserved times for [people] to hike,” Langer said. “Everything should be really spelled out through the reservation system.”

Hanging Lake’s reopening this May, however, won’t be without a few noticeable changes.

The Hanging Lake shuttle, which previously transported visitors to Hanging Lake from the Hanging Lake Welcome Center in Glenwood Springs, will not run, at least for the time being.

“The safest way to visit Hanging Lake will be by car,” Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa said.

Although Hanging Lake and the 1.2-mile-long trail leading to it did not endure much damage during last summer’s fire, surrounding terrain did.

In the event of an emergency, such as debris flow, officials wanted hikers to have access to their own vehicles rather than buses.

“It is a smart safety precaution to not have people on the buses,” Figueroa said. “It will be easier to evacuate people in their own cars.”

Visitors with a confirmed reservation will be allowed to park at the Hanging Lake exit and walk to the trailhead.

Hanging Lake also will be opening at limited capacity due to COVID-19 and visitors must comply with social distancing and other safety requirements. “I am anticipating (Hanging Lake) will be open year round,” Figueroa said.

Like Langer, Figueroa was elated but also surprised that visitors would be able to visit Hanging Lake in just a few months’ time given the severity of last summer’s fire.

“I was convinced [Hanging Lake] would be lost,” Figueroa said.

The Glenwood Springs City Council must still approve an updated Hanging Lake contract at its March 4 meeting but is expected to do so as a noncontroversial consent-agenda item.

A formal announcement and additional information concerning Hanging Lake’s reopening is expected late next week.

Matthew Bennett is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at: matthew@aspendailynews.com