South Canyon Management Plan

View the South Canyon Management Plan (PDF) »

Adopted by Glenwood Springs City Council in February 2024

Project Description

The Parks and Recreation Department embarked on developing a South Canyon Management Plan using consultants Design Workshop in early 2023. The purpose of the plan is to outline recreation and land management approaches for approximately 3,000 acres of land owned by the City of Glenwood Springs. The plan consolidates and synthesizes multiple studies and recommendations for South Canyon's management. With competing user interests and complex management needs, the plan aims to provide a vision that the city can implement with the endorsement of community stakeholders and technical experts.

Following a long process and great community involvement and collaboration of many varied stakeholders, the final plan provides a balance of natural resource protection and recreational use, while preserving cultural heritage and acknowledging wildfire risks specific to this area.

Public Process

The first step of the process was to gather information on the natural and cultural resources in the canyon area, as well as to identify potential threats and challenges to these resources.

The next step was stakeholder engagement. The planning team sought input from a wide range of stakeholders including local residents, business owners, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, and representatives from government agencies, and non-profit organizations. The team held public meetings and workshops, and conducted surveys and interviews.

Based on all the input and feedback, the third step was to produce a draft management plan that was created which included goals and objectives for the management of cultural and natural resources.

This included five key plan elements.

  • Land Conservation - 4 Goals with 15 Strategies
  • Existing and Future Recreation - 5 Goals with 16 Strategies
  • Wildfire Risk Communication and Mitigation Strategies - 4 Goals with 22 Strategies
  • Natural and Cultural History Interpretation - 2 Goals with 8 Strategies
  • Implementation and Long-Term Management

The draft plan was reviewed by stakeholders and revised based on feedback received. The consultants also conducted an environmental analysis to assess the potential impacts of the plan on the natural environment, which informed the development of the final management plan.

The final phase of the plan document and process is implementation and monitoring. The plan includes specific actions and strategies to be implemented over time, with regular monitoring and evaluation of progress.

In their February 7, 2024, meeting, the Parks and Recreation Commission passed a motion to recommend to City Council the adoption of the South Canyon Management Plan. The vote was unanimous in favor.

City Council unanimously voted to adoped the South Canyon Management plan in February 2024.


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, an archery range, a shooting range, trails, 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 fire risk and illegal camping. 

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 also builds 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.  

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 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 laid the groundwork for the development of an Area Management Plan which was completed in 2023 and formally adopted in early 2024. 

Planning Process: 

  1. Initial outreach about Issues, Needs, and Preferences - Complete in 2021
  2. Report of Initial Outreach Findings - Complete in December 2021
  3. Request for Proposals to Develop Area Management Plan - Complete 2022-2023
  4. Develop Area Management Plan - Completed in 2023, Plan adopted by City Council in February 2024
  1. Bryana Starbuck

    Public Information Officer

South Canyon Area Recreation Management Flyer - English (jpeg)
South Canyon Area Management Plan Flyer - Spanish (jpeg)