In recent years, Hanging Lake, located in Glenwood Canyon near Glenwood Springs, has suffered its fair share of damage due to overcrowding. Visitors come for the unique scenery: the lake’s turquoise waters seem like something you’d only find in the tropics, and the picturesque waterfalls create a lush oasis high in the Rocky Mountains. But with the visitors comes litter, trampled undergrowth, and a serious temptation to dip one’s toes into the refreshing water. As a result, the already fragile ecosystem has been put at risk. It’s been a slow process toward finding a solution to this conservation issue, but a recent incident has underscored the need for immediate action.

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Last week, volunteers cleaning and monitoring the area found graffiti on rocks and features around the lake. The graffiti was simple — “Blest” — in a stylized font accompanied by an arrow, found on several rocks and tree trunks in the vicinity of Hanging Lake. While the message itself was not obscene, its presence still counts as vandalism and continued acts of this nature can damage the lake’s natural environmental balance.

Hanging Lake Vandalism - U.S. Forest Service - OutThere Colorado
Recent vandalism at Hanging Lake has left the word “BLEST” spray-painted on various rocks and trees in the area. Photo Credit: U.S. Forest Service.

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While the vandalism could have been much worse, this crime has reinvigorated efforts to find a means of preventing more permanent damage.

The pristine waters of Hanging Lake.

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According to the Forest Service, the only quick solution may be shutting down the trail—at least until ranger patrols can be organized to begin at the end of May. Whether the trail to Hanging Lake gets shut down or not, this is an important reminder to always treat outdoor experience with the “Leave No Trace” mentality, taking nothing but pictures and leaving nothing but footprints.

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