South Canyon Management Plan

Project Description: 

In 2022, the City of Glenwood Springs completed initial public outreach regarding a future management plan for approximately 3,000 acres of designated parkland in the South Canyon area, west of the municipal limits of the City ( view map, below). The key deliverable was a summary of public feedback regarding the various uses of the area and related issues to help facilitate future area management planning by the City. 

The report lays the groundwork for development of an Area Management Plan. The plan will expand upon public input and consider safety and operational concerns to provide recommendations for improving and protecting the canyon’s ecosystem while enhancing public access to recreation and historical resources in the area. The plan will build on recent studies and public outreach to evaluate a variety of proposed upgrades to existing trails and sites, as well as the possibility of developing new recreational opportunities in the area, including campsites and bike trails. 


Located west of Glenwood Springs, South Canyon is an area of City-owned land with approximately 3,000 acres of designated parkland. This public land encompasses the City landfill, a shooting range, and unmanaged open space. South Canyon is the site of a set of undeveloped hot springs pools (a.k.a. the “Hippy Hot Springs”) where locals venture despite potential health risks. The City also has concerns about illegal camping and potential fire hazards in the canyon. 

Recent interest from developers in transforming the undeveloped hot springs into a tourist destination, as well the construction of the new trails and potential for establishing camp grounds in the area, has generated concerns from a variety of stakeholders regarding impacts on nearby residents and the health of the ecosystem in the canyon, which is vulnerable to illegal dumping, human impacts, and fire risk.  

Future management planning is intended to address the misuse of canyon, outlines potential approaches for enhancing public access and enjoyment of the area, and provides a framework for protection of the ecosystem and habitat that will bring awareness to this unique public amenity. 

This plan will also build on past efforts to inventory the historical and biological resources in South Canyon, including an intensive archaeological survey in 2003 with the US Forest Service to assess the historic significance and condition of the historic coal mining sites and a recently completed historical assessment.  

  1. Bryana Starbuck

    Public Information Officer

Planning Process: 

  1. Initial outreach about Issues, Needs, and Preferences - Complete
  2. Report of Initial Outreach Findings - Complete
  3. Request for Proposals to Develop Area Management Plan - Complete
  4. Develop Area Management Plan - Starting Soon


The public outreach process began September 2021 with findings presented to City Council in December 2021. 

The RFP process was completed in 2022 to 2023 and engagement will begin in the spring of 2023.

South Canyon Management Zones Map