Know Before You Go
The lake is reached via a trailhead located near I-70 in the bottom of the canyon. Be aware! You cannot reach the Hanging Lake parking lots from westbound I-70. You will need to head to exit 121, go underneath the interstate, then double back and take the exit from the eastbound lanes. Similarly, there is no entrance to eastbound I-70 from the trailhead. This is a VERY popular hike in Colorado, as the trailhead is right off the interstate and it is a short hike (1.2 miles). If you are visiting during the summer months, both parking lots are usually full before 8:30 AM, and there is nowhere else to park - you will need to make alternate plans, wait a while in Glenwood Springs and return later, or rent bicycles in Glenwood Springs and bike in. You cannot park on the I-70 ramps, and it is frowned upon to sit around idling while waiting for a spot to open up - you will block traffic and emergency access should it be needed. RVs and trailers are not allowed. You can, however, park at the exit for Grizzly Creek. This path follows along the Colorado River and will eventually get you to the Hanging Lake Trailhead. It does, however, add an additional 4 miles (round-trip) to your hike. The trail follows Dead Horse Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River and ascends some 1,000 feet. No dogs are allowed on the trailhead or left behind in cars. No fishing or swimming is allowed at the lake. This is now a permitted site, you must have a $12 permit to enter at the trailhead at a designated time, and unless it's the off season you should plan on getting your permit ahead of time. You have to park at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center and either take the shuttle or bike to the trailhead.