Where does the water in Glenwood Canyon’s iconic Hanging Lake come from?

The U.S. Forest Service and a Missouri water-tracing company are trying to find the water source of the popular hiking destination

Chris Outcalt
The Colorado Sun
Ozark Underground Laboratory’s Trevor Osorno, a senior hydrogeologist, at left, and Dave Woods, a senior project scientist, at work along the Hanging Lake trail, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, near Glenwood Springs.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

GLENWOOD CANYON — Standing on the boardwalk at the edge of Hanging Lake, seeing it all for the first time, Trevor Osorno noticed two things in particular: How striking the turquoise lake appeared and how much water was cascading off the roots and rocks above the lake down into the mineral-rich pool. 

“It’s pretty damn cool,” said Osorno, a senior hydrogeologist at Ozark Underground Laboratories. “More flow than we saw up canyon, that’s for sure.”

Osorno and his Ozark colleague, Dave Woods, spent the previous several days camping out at a U.S. Forest Service cabin on the flat tops above Glenwood Canyon. The pair were hired by the Forest Service to conduct research aimed at determining the source of the water flowing into Hanging Lake, one of Colorado’s most prized outdoor spots. 

After the Grizzly Creek fire ripped through the canyon two years ago, burning more than 30,000 acres, yet somehow sparing Hanging Lake, the Forest Service realized it did not have a good grasp of the origin of the water that flows into the lake, a National Natural Landmark. 

“The fire highlighted that we don’t really know or have a good understanding of the hydrology, where the water comes from that feeds Hanging Lake,” David Boyd, a spokesman for the Forest Service, said. 


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