***Originally posted on 4/14/19 on @publiclandshateyou***
Hanging Lake, which is a designed National Natural Landmark, is an incredibly beautiful travertine lake and waterfall located in Colorado. The lake has been always been a popular hiking destination, but visitation has skyrocketed from 78,000 people in 2012 to 186,000 in 2018. Unsurprisingly many people visiting the lake disregard the rules and do whatever it takes to get a perfect photo. As a result of the abuse, what used to be free hike that you could do on a whim will now requires (starting May 1st) an advance permit and a $12/person fee.
With more and more people visiting our public lands, the importance of knowing and following the rules cannot be understated. Hanging Lake is a perfect example of what can happen when people ignore the rules and abuse a beautiful location. Going off trail, ignoring posted signs, vandalism, and graffiti were all issues that led to the newly restricted access at Hanging Lake.
The following are the simple rules that are in place at Hanging Lake:
- No swimming or bodily contact with the water
- No dogs
- No drones
- Stay off the logs
- Stay on the boardwalk that goes around the lake.
Yet some people just couldn’t seem to follow these simple rules, and now the rest of us have to pay the price for these people’s ignorance in the form of newly limited access. This is why I will continue to harp on the importance of not only knowing the rules, but following the rules. And this is why I will continue to call out people who break the rules. If you want to engage in environmentally harmful, and oftentimes illegal, behavior on our public lands and post about it publically on social media, you should be prepared to face the music.
A number of people have said that I’m making people feel bad by calling them out. Good. They should feel bad for jeopardizing these incredible places. And they should do what it takes to make it right, be it removing the post, apologizing, educating others about their mistake, or donating time/money to their local public land management agencies. It’s ok to make mistakes, but it’s not ok to be purposefully ignorant about the impact of your actions.