Written and Photographed by Haley Zerobnick, ESLLC 2017-2018
Hanging Lake, Colorado
Native Coloradans and tourists alike have one thing in common: a desire to be outdoors and see beautiful sights. Hanging Lake, near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, has become a bucket list destination because of the amazing hike and sights to see. Until recently, people could come and go as they pleased. However, over the last two years the estimated annual visitors have increased over 150%. Although it is a great thing that people want to be outdoors and experience the most beautiful sights that nature can offer, some people are not aware of the impacts they can have on the environment around them.
Due to the increased amounts of foot traffic, the trails have become wider. This threatens the native plant species and degrades the rocks and trees that line the trails. The boardwalks surrounding the lake as well as the bridges on the way to the top have seen major degradation even though some of them have been built relatively recently. Another major issue is swimming or fishing in the lake. These things are clearly marked as illegal on the trail due to the delicate ecosystem that exists there. Other major issues the park rangers have noticed are vandalism to the trail including things like tree carvings, graffiti, leaving trash behind, and human excrement near the trail.
The question would then be: what is being done to preserve Hanging Lake? The park management has come up with a plan to slightly decrease the daily foot traffic. During peak season the trail can see up to 1000 visitors a day. The solution is to have people buy a daily permit in order to visit the park. The plan would be to only give out 615 permits daily. However, the lot only has 160 parking spots so traffic also needs to be regulated on who can enter the lot and when. The regulation has already been put into effect but the permits could be required as early as summer of 2018.
Here are some pictures that I took myself when visiting over the summer of 2017: