Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park

Flat-top Mountain RMNP

Rocky Mountain National Park Hike

Rocky Mountain National Park offers extensive trails for all to enjoy, no matter your skill level. The Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant is situated at the West Entrance of RMNP and is the quieter side of the park. Compared with the traffic and crowds of Estes Park, we are a peaceful option.

The famous Adams Falls Trail leaves from the east end of Grand Lake, and you will arrive at the falls after just about a third of a mile. Just beyond, is a stunning meadow with views of Mount Craig. Of course, you can hike a long way into the park to Lone Pine Lake and Lake Verna (13.8 miles) if you want to get a longer hike under your belt.

A great trail that is easy for everyone to do is the East Shore Trail, about 3.6 miles one way, but you can go as far as you are comfortable and turn back. The trail is pretty easy and follows the scenic shore of Shadow Mountain Lake. If you are looking for something more strenuous, there is a trail that diverges to the top of Shadow Mountain and the historic fire lookout which offers astounding views over Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Never Summer Mountain Range.

In the Kawuneechee Valley, the Harbison loop will take you on an easy trail that for much of the time follows the course of the Colorado River. Several other easy trails include the Coyote Valley and Holzwarth Ranch trails. The Colorado River Trail will take you up to the site of Lulu City, an old mining town, and if you would like to go further, Little Yellowstone is well worth seeing. Yes, it really looks like “Little Yellowstone”!

Some challenging high country hikes that leave the Kawuneechee Valley are the Bowen Baker and Timber Lake trails that will take you way above tree-line for breathtaking views.

We have two great trails that depart right from the hill above our property.  For ambitious hikers, the North Inlet Trail to Flattop Mountain connects Grand Lake and Estes Park (Bear Lake) and can be accomplished in one day or overnight. We have regular guests who do this hike every year and always plan for the end point to be the Rapids Lodge which is just a little downhill from the end of the trail. A quick clean up and a sumptuous meal at the Rapids Restaurant overlooking the scenic Tonahutu Creek is the perfect way to end the day. Believe it or not, we have had some endurance trail runners jog over from Estes Park, have lunch at the Rapids Restaurant, and then jog back to Estes Park. Wow!

The North Inlet Trail is also a pleasant shorter hike for many of our guests, most of whom set the goal of Cascade Falls. The Tonahutu Creek Trail which departs at almost the same point follows the course of our very own Tonahutu River, all the way through Big Meadows to Granite Falls. You can also reach the Kawuneechee Visitor’s Center via this trail.

So, how about booking your “hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park trip” with us today. You just might try “trail running Rocky Mountain National Park” next time!

Grand Lake History

Grand Lake History

Our area is steeped in fascinating history stretching from the days when Ute, Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians used our famous valley for summer hunting and fishing grounds. Explorers pushed west and traded in skins. Finally Grand Lake was settled with year-round residents in 1867. The discovery of silver, although short lived, brought more people to our area. Finally tourists arrived and hotels were built.

Walking through downtown Grand Lake is like stepping back in time.

The Grand Lake Area Historical Society offers a great walking tour and the self-guided tour pamphlet (50c donation) is available at the Rapids Lodge front desk.

So next time you are in Grand Lake, take a walk and read up about:

  • The Grand Lake Yacht Club (est. 1902)
  • Some of the great old houses for example “The Spider House” which has a rather tragic history.
  • The public square.
  • The Lariat Saloon (est. 1924).
  • The Grand Lake Mercantile general store (early 1900s).
  • The glacial moraine that Grand Avenue intersects.
  • Humphreys Store (Est. 1908).
  • The Smith-Eslick Cottage Court (fine example of an early motel accommodating motor vehicles).
  • The Kauffman House, an early Grand Lake hotel (Est. 1892).

Of course the Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant is on the list (est. 1915) and Laps Ish, who built the Rapids, also had a house just down Rapids Lane dating from 1900. Did you know that the Rapids Lodge was one of the first hotels in the area to have running water, electricity and heat! The Rapids had a water powered generator just upstream from the building in the North Inlet.

The Rapids Restaurant is a great place to enjoy a meal overlooking the Tonahutu Creek and we are in a prime location from which to explore Rocky Mountain National Park in any season. Our low season rates begin early October and run through Mid-June and are hard to beat: just $60 for 2 people and $89 for up to 6 people. Pets are welcome in some units too. We invite you to visit in any season, there is always lots to do and the beauty of the area will astound you.