About Karl

Karl Hanlon grew up in a ranching family that raised cattle along the border of southern Wyoming and Jackson County, Colorado, at the most northeastern tip of the 3rd Congressional District. To the locals it is North Park, and a love of that vast landscape of earth, water, and sky led Karl to dedicate his life to preserving what’s great about Colorado, and to making sure the state and its people are ready for the future.
Karl’s parents were children of the Great Depression who came of age fighting in WWII and working in factories. They raised children who were not only daily acquainted with the hard work of ranching in the West, but were taught the value of good education. Karl’s sister, Anne, runs the ranch today, while Karl became a first-generation college student, putting himself through university and law school to practice water law on the Western Slope.
After receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of Wyoming, Karl spent four years as a seasonal park ranger for the Colorado Division of Parks. He also attended the Police Academy in Rangely, Colorado, becoming a POST-certified peace officer in Colorado. As challenging and rewarding as that was, Karl knew he wanted to find a way to make a bigger impact, and decided to apply to law school.
Karl was accepted to the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He moved to Portland sight unseen, and — to the stares and laughter of fellow students — rolled into the school’s parking lot in a dented Chevy three-quarter ton pickup with gunracks in the rear window. He graduated with a law degree, an environmental certificate, and a burning desire to get back home to Colorado. He knew that water would be a key issue in the state’s future, and chose Glenwood Springs as the place to practice water law. He chose an office that was an easy walk to the Colorado River, then and now the lifeblood of the west.
From there, he built a legal career dedicated to creating coalitions in the most contentious of circumstances, bringing people together across parties and across ideologies. He has worked with people from all over the state and the country — from Grand Junction to Denver and on to Washington, D.C. — to reach agreements that benefit all those involved. Never one to back down, he has been blessed with intense loyalty from the communities and companies he serves, and is recognized for his ability to see long-term impacts of today’s decisions.
Karl’s also a husband and a father and step-father of four living on a small ranch in Carbondale. There, he and his wife Sheryl founded a nonprofit that brings children with autism and veterans with PTSD to interact with horses and other animals. He sits on non-profit boards, volunteers at his kids’ schools, coaches CrossFit, and is an avid motorcyclist and skier. He’s also a big fan of beers around a campfire with friends and family. He’s a hands-on guy, balancing his law practice with building corrals and sheds, fixing fences, and moving hay. He still visits his family ranch regularly, especially at round-up.
Karl has dedicated his life to making the places we live better. It’s going to take hard work to corral political will, build strong coalitions, and pass legislation that benefits the people and places of our 3rd Congressional District. But Karl Hanlon is no stranger to hard work.