On Tuesday, August 22, 2017, the U.S. Forest Service announced a plan to limit the number of daily visitors to Hanging Lake, a popular bucket list hike for many around the entire country. The plan states that 615 people will be able to visit this Glenwood Springs-area destination daily, relying on a fee-based reservation system. This equates to roughly 225,000 visitors per year.
The proposed plan also addresses a shuttle system that will operate during peak tourist seasons, which occurs from May 1 to October 31. Pick-up and drop-off locations are to be determined depending on which shuttle company is selected for the task. From November to April, however, the same limited access reservation system will be used, but visitors will be allowed to park at the trailhead rest stop instead of solely relying on the shuttle service.
This proposed plan comes in the wake of recent vandalism and decay of the trail, which has resulted in a public outcry to preserve Hanging Lake with an official plan. The trail and pristine waterfalls and pools at its summit attracts upwards of 1,200 visitors on busy days.
Now that the plan has been announced, it has entered a 30-day public comment period where feedback will be considered. If this plan is accepted, it raises the question of whether or not other fragile natural attractions around Colorado will follow suit.