Located about 160 miles west of Denver, Glenwood Canyon is a beautiful land formation withing the Colorado Rockies, and a place well worth visiting, any time of year. If you are staying in the area, it is my recommendation that you plan to spend a day in this beautiful part of the state.
The following list of tips and suggestions was geared towards visiting in the winter, but if you are there in the summer, you can stick to the same plan. In either case, be sure to bring the following:
- Hiking gear and water for the hike to Hanging Lake
- Swimsuit for the hot springs pools in Glenwood Springs
Start your day with a hike up to Hanging Lake right after breakfast, followed by an afternoon swim in the famous hot springs pools in Glenwood Springs. After all that excitement, enjoy a relaxing dinner in town at one of the many great restaurants.
Hike to Hanging Lake
Plan to get to Hanging Lake early in the day. In the winter, the days are much shorter, so it’s best to give yourself as many hours of daylight as possible. The parking lot for the trail is located off of Interstate-70 East in Glenwood Canyon. There is no access from I-70 West, so if traveling west, you’ll have to swing back around via Exit 121. Once on I-70 East, take Exit 125 towards Hanging Lake.
The hike to Hanging Lake is 2.4 miles long round trip (1.2 miles one way), and usually classified as INTERMEDIATE to DIFFICULT. I personally don’t think it is really hard, as long as you are prepared. It is a fairly steep, narrow path that weaves mostly through the forest between the walls of Glenwood Canyon. There are many rocks along the way that can get icy and slippery during the winter, however, don’t let this deter you! Hanging Lake is a National Natural Landmark, truly a place of beauty, and you’ll find that your efforts will be greatly rewarded!
What to Bring for the Hike
Here is a short list of items you should bring with you in order to have an enjoyable and safe hike to Hanging Lake:
- Winter Hiking Boots (Be sure you have good ankle support and plenty of tread.)
- Crampons for your boots (These can be very useful especially if it is icy. Their metal spikes will keep you from slipping and falling.)
- Hiking Poles for extra support (It is always a good idea to bring hiking poles whether you are hiking in the winter or summer. They provide extra support, and are especially useful on rocky, slippery trails.)
- Plenty of Water to keep hydrated (Plan about 3 hours for the hike round trip.)
- Food or Snacks for energy
Follow a few very IMPORTANT RULES while on the trail and up at the lake:
- DO NOT bring dogs on the trail
- DO NOT dip your hands or step in the water at Hanging Lake
- STAY on the designated boardwalks; DO NOT step or walk on trees that have fallen in the lake
Hanging Lake maintains a very unique and fragile ecosystem, and even the tiniest amounts of human skin cells or oils can damage it!
Hike to Spouting Rock Falls
If you wish to continue your hike a little further past Hanging Lake, go to the nearby Spouting Rock Falls. During the summer, this short trail will take you to a beautiful waterfall pouring through an opening in a rock. In the winter however, this waterfall is often frozen.
Drive to Glenwood Springs
When you return back from the hike to Hanging Lake, head west on I-70 towards Glenwood Springs. This is a charming town where you can plan on some shopping and a good meal. However, the most famous attraction in Glenwood Springs is the hot springs mineral pools.
Take a Dip in the Hot Pools
Taking a dip and a swim in the hot pools at Glenwood Springs is a unique experience you shouldn’t miss. I find that this is particularly enjoyable in the winter when the temperatures outside are below freezing, and the nearby hills are covered in snow. You can sit in the hot mineral water, and take in all the winter beauty while feeling comfortable, relaxed and refreshed by the crisp air.
You don’t need to bring a towel, as you will get one when you buy your tickets. Once inside, you can enjoy two different pools.
- The “smaller” pool, also known as the therapy pool, is the hotter of the two, and is kept at about 104°F. It is a large pool with a length of 100 feet, and width of 40 feet.
- The “larger” pool is cooler with water temperature around 90°F, which is still quite warm. Its size is truly enormous at 100 feet wide, and 405 feet long. In this pool, you’ll also find a diving area and lap lanes at one end.
Note: The Kiddie Pool and the two water slides are closed during the winter season.
Have a Relaxing Dinner in Town
If you wish, and if you have the time, you may really enjoy having dinner in town. There is an array of highly rated restaurants that offer a variety of specialties. One restaurant that we have tried, and liked quite well was the Italian Underground Restaurant, located right on Grand Avenue in town, not too far from the hot pools.
Additional Resources to Help Plan Your Day to Glenwood Canyon
- How NOT to hike to Hanging Lake in the Winter and Other Colorado Adventures (Check out this post to see more pictures and read how we hiked to Hanging Lake completely unprepared. Avoid our mistakes!)
- Glenwood Springs, Colorado (This is a wonderful resource, packed with information about the city, the area, and all the attractions.)
- Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon (This is the specific page from the above website, where you can read more about Hanging Lake and the hike there.)
- Glenwood Hot Springs Resort and Hot Springs Pool (This is where you can find everything you need to know about the hot springs pools in Glenwood Springs, as well as the adjacent lodge, and other services they offer.)
- The Italian Underground Restaurant (This is the website for one of the popular restaurants in town. We have tried it, and really enjoyed the food, atmosphere, and service. Of course, there are many other wonderful choices in town!)
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all pictures in this post were taken by me, Vessy, with my Nikon D3100 camera. I always shoot on Manual Mode, and the only edits I do at times are: cropping, increasing the saturation, and sharpening the images if needed.
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