June 26, 2013
I first saw Hanging Lake about 8 years ago on a family vacation. I took some pictures at the time, but it was mid-day and, while they were fun snapshots, I always wanted to go back. Often, once I find a location I want to shoot, it takes multiple trips to find just the right composition and lighting.
Last week I was in Colorado to be a leadership mentor for the Rocky Mountain High program. I took the opportunity to arrive about two days early to do some shooting. My first stop was Hanging Lake. I arrived in Denver about noon and drove straight to Glenwood Springs (about 3 hours) to the Hanging Lake trailhead.
The Hanging Lake trail is only about 1 mile long, but unfortunately, it’s all uphill. The trail gains about 1,000 feet of elevation in that short mile up Glenwood Canyon. Couple that elevation gain with the 8,000 base elevation at the trail head and you have quite a workout — especially when you are arriving from the flatlands of Florida! Thank goodness for my lightweight micro four-thirds gear.
The green color of the water comes from the travertine rock formation that forms the lake and the mineral content of the water. The color of the water is just as you see it. I haven’t done any strange Photoshop tricks to modify it. The lake is quite fragile ecologically, so you can’t swim in it or otherwise enter the water.
I arrived at the lake at about 7 PM and shot for about an hour. The light was good, but not spectacular. The lake sits deep in a canyon and I think it would be quite unusual to get something other than flat light. Nevertheless, the early evening light was nice. For the vertical shot, I climbed on a rock right behind the waterfall. I was precariously perched upon a small rock with my tripod and almost fell off the rock. It was worth it to get the shot. 🙂
I descended the steep trail before it got too dark and went straight to my hotel. I briefly contemplated going back for sunrise, but since sunrise was at 5:30, I would have had to leave my hotel before 4 AM — a little too early after traveling all day on the previous day.
Although this was my second attempt at Hanging Lake and I like the most recent shots better than my first set, I still think that I may have a few trips left in me for this location. I still want to find that magical light at this magical location.
If you are interested in hiking to Hanging Lake, you can find an excellent guide here:
If you would like to purchase prints of Hanging Lake, you can find them in my Landscape Gallery: