(CBS4) – Hanging Lake is on its way to a full recovery after debris poured into the area following a 500-year rain event. Just weeks ago, aerial video of the popular Colorado tourist destination showed the once-turquoise lake possessing a dark brown color. Many weren’t sure how the aquatic life could survive, or if the lake would ever return to the crystal-clear blue it once was.
This week a CBS4 crew joined members of the U.S. Forest Service with other members of the media to take a look. They had to carefully trek up a heavily damaged Hanging Lake Trail that is closed to visitor until further notice.
“This lake is extremely resilient, and just seeing it a couple weeks ago — it was completely brown and muddy and now all this?” said Bella Fendley on Wednesday. She’s a member of the U.S. Forest Service Glenwood Recreation Crew.
Officials were amazed at how quickly the lake filtered out the sediment and lost that muddy brown color. While it wasn’t completely clear on Wednesday, it was enough to see the brooke trout were still alive and well.
Officials are confident one of the natural gems of Glenwood Canyon will be back to normal in no time.
“The turquoise color in Hanging Lake comes from the limestone dissolved in the water. As the sediment that clouded the water is settling out, new water is flowing into the lake and the clear, turquoise color is returning,” said David Boyd, White River National Forest spokesman.
While the lake is rebounding, the normal load of excited tourists to the spectacular attraction is certainly not. The trail that gets visitors from the shuttle dropoff point along Interstate 70 up to the lake was heavily damaged in the destructive mudslides at the end of July and may not fully reopen until 2023. Before then, Forest Service employees are considering the possibility of a primitive trail that would provide access to certain people who are willing to trek up more challenging terrain to get to Hanging Lake.