If you are planning a hike this Saturday (September 10) to the crystal clear waters of Hanging Lake above Glenwood Canyon, cancel your plans thanks to those who abuse, misuse, and vandalize the popular area.

Hanging Lake has over 130,000 people hike the mile-long trail ascending 1,000 vertical feet to stand in awe of the lake and the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, not all of those visitors take the fragile nature of the area's ecosystem seriously.

Add to that intentional destruction caused by vandals spray painting expletives and moronic symbols on nature's art, it becomes a real spoiler for those who truly appreciate the awesomeness of this western Colorado gem.

The area has become so bad it needs to be closed so volunteers can clean up and repair the damage. Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Aaron Mayville says,

Hanging Lake sees such a high level of use, wear-tear, and defacement every year. Graffiti is a huge problem up there and we rely on groups like the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers to help us keep Hanging Lake looking as it should.”

The Denver Post reports the number of visitors to Hanging Lake has increased 81% in three years making it difficult to maintain the pristine nature of the area even if everyone was conscientious about the impact.

The area is so fragile that unintentional damage occurs because of the oils and sunscreen on visitors' skin negatively affects the deposits of the travertine.

It's the reflection from the white travertine lining the shore and covering the rocks and logs that give the lake its aqua blue color. At the base, the parking lot is often filled to capacity even overflowing to areas beyond designated parking all of which is taking its toll on the area top to bottom.

Closing the area entirely is the single best answer, but impractical. So, other options including charging a usage fee, limiting the number of visitors to the trail and lake, or creating a shuttle service to transport people to and from the area are being considered to lessen the human impact.

[The Denver Channel / Denver Post]