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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

White River National Forest, Hanging Lake Recreation Site - Alternative Transportation Study

The Hanging Lake recreation site in the White River National Forest is one of the most popular destinations in the National Forest System. The site, near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is a popular hiking location for local visitors and tourists throughout the summer months. However, the site’s popularity has also created problems, including parking lot congestion, trail overcrowding, public safety concerns, and resource degradation. 

In response, Volpe is supporting the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to develop strategies for improving these conditions.

Volpe first facilitated a stakeholder meeting in October 2013 to identify crucial issues and project goals. Volpe and the stakeholders developed preliminary short-, medium-, and long-term solutions that include technical analyses such as conducting a trail capacity study, visitor survey, and transit feasibility study. Volpe then facilitated a public meeting the following year to gather feedback on these conceptual solutions, completed the trail capacity study, administered a visitors survey, and worked with USFS and CDOT and other stakeholders to undertake a transportation and operations study, which evaluates the costs, benefits, and drawbacks of four long-term transportation management strategies for Hanging Lake.

All of this work informed the Forest’s 2018 Hanging Lake Area Management Plan  and resulted in the implementation of a shuttle reservation and permit system to hike Hanging Lake in 2019. 

Due to the pandemic, the stakeholders changed the shuttle reservation system to a parking reservations system in 2020. The 2020 season was cut short due to significant fire damage in the vicinity, but thankfully not at Hanging Lake. Hanging Lake reopens in 2021 with the continuance of the parking reservations system.

Final Report, May 2016: 
White River National Forest: Hanging Lake Capacity Study (PDF)

Final Report, January 2017:
White River National Forest Hanging Lake Visitor Transportation Survey: Summary of Results (PDF)

Final Report, May 2017:
White River National Forest Hanging Lake Transportation and Operations Study (PDF)

Hanging Lake Trail Volume Scenario Visualizations

The water falls at Hanging Lake
The falls at Hanging Lake. (Volpe photo)
Last updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017