From May to October, the only access to the parking area will be by shuttle bus from Glenwood Springs or by bicycle on the path. And even bike riders will have to reserve access to the lake. The parking lot will be open in the winter, but permits will still be required to access the lake trail.

Like others at popular natural attractions in the United States, the new reservation and shuttle system is the culmination of a years-long effort to study the human impact on Hanging Lake and create a management plan that reduces it.

White River National Forest officials say as many as 1,200 people visited the lake on busy summer days last year.

The result was an over-abundance of trash and an under-abundance of parking.

The fragile ecology of the area was also suffering. In its Environmental Assessment released in late 2017, the U.S. Forest Service noted that a management plan that reduces over-crowding at the lake would help protect soil and stream health and wildlife habitat.

“This type of management is something we’re going to need to look at as land managers a lot more frequently in the future,” said Aaron Mayville, District Ranger with the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest, which manages the lake.

“Hanging Lake is a great example of a place that’s beautiful, a huge attractor for people. But too many people are coming to see it all at once.”

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