The saga of over-crowding on the iconic Hanging Lake trail continues with the recent announcement of a fee-based reservation system that will go into effect next May. According to an article by the Denver Post, the forest service and Glenwood Springs are planning on implementing a permitting system which will require visitors to Hanging Lake to purchase a permit prior to witnessing this natural attraction, also limiting the number of visitors to 615 per day. The exact price of the permit-fee is still being decided. There will also be a shuttle system that will be implemented to help alleviate parking issues that stem from Hanging Lake’s popularity, but that’s no new news.

This is another step in a recent wave of limitations put on public access to natural destinations directly resulting from overcrowding. Also this week, it was announced that Garden of the Gods will likely require the use of a shuttle for visitors next season and earlier this year, a reservation system was put in place at popular Conundrum Hot Springs.

As this trend continues, it increasingly shows the importance of educating people about the proper ways to interact with the outdoors in a safe and responsible manner. The floodgates have opened, and people are discovering Colorado’s amazing outdoor recreation in the masses. It’s up to those of us embedded in the local outdoor recreation community to lead by example, following the principles of Leave No Trace and sharing them with those unaware of proper practices.

An increase in the popularity of outdoor recreation doesn’t have to be a bad thing. A growing presence of outspoken nature lovers can increase the awareness of protecting the great outdoors in the public agenda. However, if education about safety and responsibility does not remain at the forefront of this growth, the results could be catastrophic, resulting in stricter limitations than a fee-based reservation system that’s likely coming to Hanging Lake.

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