Lookout Mountain (Mt Zion) – Site Guide

Site Information

Lookout Mountain, also known as Mount Zion, is a hang gliding site located 15 miles west of Denver, near the town of Golden, Colorado. It is the most used site by pilots in Denver, and also one of the hardest HG sites in the world to soar at1. But don’t let that scare you away. Flying at Lookout Mountain will teach you advanced skills and reward you with amazing views and experiences1The site is administered by Hang Glide Colorado, a hang gliding school and tandem operation run by BJ Herring12. The site requires an advanced rating (P3 or H3) and USHPA membership. You will also need a helmet and a reserve parachute for safety1. Before flying, you will need to sign a waiver and contact BJ Herring, the local instructor and site administrator. You can reach him at (303) 513-0998 or [email protected]1.

The site has only 900 feet of vertical, virtually no ridge lift in most conditions, and a ridiculously difficult landing area1This means that you will need to master thermalling skills, launch timing techniques, scratch ridge soaring, thermal cycle prediction and management, top landing where no top landing should be done, and restricted landing practice in an LZ you would never choose while flying XC1If you can do all that, you will be rewarded with great flights, long cross countries, and hours of enjoyable soaring1The site is free to use, but you will need to respect the landowners and neighbors who live nearby. Do not fly over houses or roads, do not land in prohibited areas, do not fly in strong winds or thunderstorms, and follow all FAA regulations1.

The locations and directions of the launch and landing areas are as follows:

Flying Conditions and Restrictions

The site has several hazards and limitations that pilots should be aware of, such as:

The optimal wind direction for flying at Lookout Mountain is east to northeast (south east is possible but not ideal)1The optimal wind speed is 5 to 15 mph1The weather is sunny and dry most of the year, but cold and snowy in winter1Thunderstorms are possible in summer, so avoid flying when they are nearby1.

Pilots should always check the weather forecast and the current conditions before flying. They should also consult with the local instructor and other experienced pilots for advice and guidance. Pilots should never fly beyond their skill level or comfort zone, and always have an escape plan in case of an emergency.

Best Times to Fly and Visit

The best times to fly at Lookout Mountain depend on the weather conditions and your personal preferences. Generally, the site is open year-round, but some seasons may offer better flying opportunities than others12. Here are some factors to consider when planning your visit:

According to the Hang Gliding Files website1, some of the record flights from Lookout Mountain are:

  • Longest distance: 205 miles by John Heiney in 1998
  • Longest duration: 7 hours 45 minutes by BJ Herring in 2019
  • Highest altitude: 18,000 feet by BJ Herring in 2019

More Information

If you want to learn more about flying at Lookout Mountain, here are some useful resources and contacts:

  • Hang Glide Colorado: This is the official website of the local instructor and site administrator, BJ Herring. You can find information about tandem flights, flight school, equipment rental, and more. You can also contact him by phone or email for any questions or reservations. Website: https://www.hangglidecolorado.com/ Phone: (303) 513-0998 Email: [email protected]
  • The Hang Gliding Files: This is a website created by a hang gliding enthusiast who has flown at many sites around the world. He has written a detailed site guide for Lookout Mountain, with photos, videos, maps, and tips. You can also find site guides for other hang gliding locations in Colorado and beyond. Website: https://thehangglidingfiles.com/lookout-mountain/

We hope this site guide has been helpful and informative for you. If you decide to fly at Lookout Mountain, we wish you a safe and enjoyable flight!

1 Comment

  1. I think lookout is over rated for what you have to do to fly here.
    Great in VR, but in real life this is a tough place to fly

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