Spring sprung early in the Rockies. We have had unusual weather for May. Days were often sunny and 65F to 70F. As a result, flowers have bloomed and the Aspen Trees are well leafed out. Unfortunately, we are already wishing for more frequent rains although we experience a good soaking storm on May 29th. As far as playing outside or on the lakes, however, this weather is awesome! The elk and moose are dropping their calves and when they are all still scrunched up from the womb and wobbly on their spindly legs, such a sight is truly moving. You can see them as they cross the road near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park in the very early morning and at dusk.
The first hummingbird was seen at the Rapids on May 1st!
Grand Lake Colorado
The Tonahutu flowed well all month and was just below peak for most of the latter part of the month. Our flow indicator is a big boulder and we only saw the water lap over it on one day. Often, when there is a lot of snow and a quick melt, the boulder becomes completely covered with water. Peak flow is at 10 am….it takes that long for melt from the higher elevations to reach us!
Memorial Day Weekend brought regular visitation from a bull moose much to the delight of our guests. He appeared nightly over the long weekend at the water’s edge, sometimes forging the river. The parking lot seemed to be on his habitual route too. Perhaps he will stick around all summer. If he does, hopefully, he won’t munch on all our flowers when we get them into the pots!
Boy, bookings are fast and furious this year! Many weekends are already sold out in the summer. Be advised, make your plans for getaways and vacations, reunions and weddings as soon as possible so you can snag your spot! If you missed it this year, remember we open bookings one year in advance!
Its spring in Grand Lake, Colorado!
The Continental Divide has had some excellent snowfalls recently with snowpack as of April 18, showing at 97% of average in the Upper Colorado Basin. Most of the snow at lower elevations has melted off and the three lakes, Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain and Granby, are days away from returning to open water.
Spring in Grand Lake, Colorado
The Tonahutu River at the Rapids Lodge is now fully open and beginning to inch up with snowmelt. The American Dippers are back and darting in and out of the water as they search for food below the surface. What a unique species they are. Bird-watching is always good at the Rapids. The Stellar Jays are constantly flitting about and the morning chorus is alive with the calls of American Robins and Chickadees.
Moose are being seen frequently now as they move around in search of spring willow shoots and a coyote was seen running down highway 34 just the other day. Foxes are always darting in and out between the houses. Elk are frequenting the open areas near Granby
The Aspen Trees are blooming and grass is greening up. It’s a quiet time of year but it’s beautiful and peaceful. Weather can change in an instant from sunny and warm to a few flurries to chilly and windy so come prepared with lots of layers!
Although Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park doesn’t open until Memorial Day Weekend, you can still drive 8 miles into the park for wildlife viewing and hiking trail access. You can also now enjoy traffic-free conditions and walk or bicycle past the vehicle barriers to enjoy Trail Ridge Road (with you leashed dog as a bonus). The Rapids Lodge is offering great low season rates in Lodge Guest Rooms and Rapids Suites. The Rapids Restaurant will open for the summer season on May 4th for dinner and lunch service starts Memorial Day Weekend.
Consider staying and dining at the Rapids Restaurant for Mother’s Day or Memorial Day Weekend! Catch Grand Lake before the crowds.
October is proving to be a beautiful month in Grand County, Colorado. Gorgeous days of blue sky and sunshine! Yes, there have been a few snowfalls but the white has settled mostly at higher elevations and melted off at our elevation. Our scenery is truly breathtaking at the moment with the remaining trees still cloaked in gold against a backdrop of stunning, white mountains. At this time the rutting elk are still busy in Rocky Mountain National Park and Trail Ridge is still open for the season despite a few temporary closures including at night. Nothing beats the un-crowded trails and peaceful moments of solitude at this time of year. And then join the Rapids Lodge for dinner.
Deer eating bushes, Grand Lake, Colorado
For those of you who are hunters, the snow always helps to push big game down to lower elevations. If you aren’t a fan of the cold and roughing it at hunter’s camp, the Rapids Lodge has great lodging options ranging from 8 person condos to smaller rooms, some of which are now bookable at a great low season rate. Use our book online option to check availability at these great rates (available all the way through early June next year). Don’t forget Halloween, a really fun time to be up in the mountains and doing something different. Grand Lake and Granby both have trick or treating!
Deer eating bushes, Grand Lake, Colorado
Get planning for the winter! Grand Lake offers so many winter activities. Call us and we will send you in the right direction. A white Christmas in the Colorado Mountains is a magical experience! The Rapids Restaurant is now serving dinner Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Come at 5pm and grab your spot by the fire.
- Ski & Snowshoe with a Ranger in RMNP
- Dog Sled Rides
- Sleigh Rides
- Guided and Unguided Ice-Fishing
- Snowmobiling – 130 miles groomed trails
- Ice Skating
- Grand Lake Touring Center
- Winter Hot Air Ballooning
- Soak in the Hot Springs at Hot Sulphur Springs
- Wildlife watching – moose in the snow, red foxes and coyotes, a deer or two.
- Birdwatching in Colorado can be good, new species from the north make an appearance.
- Stay at the Rapids Lodge
Boating Adventures in Grand County, Colorado….
July, August, and September are all prime months for boating in Grand County and there are so many lakes to choose from! The water is still a bit chilly right now due to the late melt this year, but it is warming quickly. So if you are in the mood for a swim, the water will definitely take your breath away.
Boating Grand Lake, Colorado
Headwaters Marina in Grand Lake, Colorado offers boat tours around historic Grand Lake. Sit back and absorb the history and anecdotes of the lake and its residents past and present. A kayak rental or paddle board rental is also a fun way to explore. Mornings are always best when the air and lakes are still and reflective. Boater’s Choice Marina is also a great option and they offer one of the closest coffee shops to the Rapids Lodge: “The Wake”.
Boating Shadow Mountain Lake
Perhaps a pontoon ride on Shadow Mountain Lake may turn into a fun expedition for the whole family. Trail Ridge Marina allows you to explore the wild eastern shore of the lake and you just might see deer, moose or a mink! Head down south and meander between the islands, one of which you can get off on and enjoy a picnic. Birds abound on Shadow Mountain Lake including Canada Goose, Common Mergansers, Red- Winged Blackbirds, White Pelicans, Osprey and more.
Boating Lake Granby
Try Lake Granby for a day of boating. You can rent from Beacon Landing Marina or Indian Peaks Marina. Head east past the Farr Pumping Plant (part of the Big-Thompson Water Project) and you will soon discover scenic beaches to stop off at on the way to Columbine Bay, a narrow finger of water that heads back towards the Colorado River inflow. Campsites abound on these shores and an overnight stay is a memorable experience. You might even see a bear sneak out of the woods between camping “check-out/in time” seeking the odd dropped morsel. This is a great area to see Bald Eagle and Osprey nest on almost all the islands. The shoreline is varied and offers ever-changing views. Colorful Aspen Trees make this a great lake to explore in the fall.
Lastly, for non-motorized boaters, a canoe, kayak or SUP (Stand Up Paddle) paddle board adventure on either Monarch Lake or Willow Creek Reservoir can be very rewarding. These smaller lakes also teem with birdlife and wildlife. Don’t forget your fishing poles, all of these lakes are prime fishing locations!
The Rapids Lodge is a great base from which to explore and you can begin or end your adventure with an appetite-satisfying lunch or dinner riverside at the Rapids Restaurant.
Grand Lake is wheelchair friendly!
The Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant offers an OSHA certified handicapped accessible room in our Rapids Suites building and we are located just one half block from the end of the main street in town, and two half blocks to the lake. Access to the river in front of the Historic Lodge building is at the North end of the main lodge so you may enjoy a lunch or early dinner in our gazebo or on the riverside patio in summer. If it’s cold outside, just let us know and we will direct you to the easy way into the main building for a warm meal next to a fireplace with a view of the Tonahutu River.
The Rapids Lodge is the perfect base from which to explore. The town of Grand Lake offers store front boardwalks that are accessible to everybody. Enjoy the beach area and lakeside docks too. Sitting next to the calming water with tremendous views all around you, is a memorable experience!
Rocky Mountain National Park offers a lot of picnic areas, viewpoints and short trails from which to explore the park and view wildlife. The Coyote Valley Trailhead is fully accessible and will take you along a mile of trail with outstanding views of the Kawuneechee Valley and surrounding mountain peaks. The trail also is alongside the Colorado River and there is a fully accessible little fishing spot on a scenic meander of the river. Try your luck for brook trout, browns, cutthroats, and even the odd rainbow trout!
the fishing platform of Coyote Valley Trail Head
There’s plenty more to do. Grand County and Grand Lake are one of the most scenic and unique areas to visit. Come stay with us!
The Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant
Grand Lake, Colorado
Click Here to book
As of mid-March, our area is at 143% of average expected snowpack for this time of year! March is often the biggest snow month of the season although I think this January will be hard to beat! The weather right now is fairly warm, days in the mid 40’s with nights not too far below freezing. Just today, the Tonahutu River in front of the AAA Three Diamond Rapids Restaurant, began to open up and for the first time. We can hear the water gurgling again! Music to our ears. Unless we get a remarkably cold snap, we expect the ice to melt away fairly quickly. Perhaps we will have a nice slow melt, maybe it will be really warm and we will have a sudden melt. Either way, the Tonahutu River this spring will be raging and a quite a spectacle to see. Pick a River View or Rapids Condo with a view of the river and enjoy the rushing water from the comfort of your room.
Spring has arrived in many parts of the country an estimated three weeks early. Right now, mid-March, there have been sightings of our spring icons: American Robins and Mountain Bluebirds! Your birding adventures can start now! Perhaps the lake ice will also melt off early this year and the Aspen Trees will sprout green leaves at the beginning of May versus Mid-May in Grand Lake. We will have to see.
The two big events of May are of course, are Mother’s Day and Memorial Day Weekend (enjoy the Parade)! On Memorial Day Weekend, Bingo, on the weekends, in the Grand Lake Pavilion starts up for the summer and the historic Kauffman House (Grand Lake, Colorado’s first hotel) opens up for the summer season. Who needs events for an excuse to come to the mountains in May? The scenery is never prettier with snow-capped peaks towering above azure lakes and the brilliant green of fresh spring growth contrasting with the blues of peaks and sky. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for baby moose!
We have accommodations for every taste: Riverside Condos that sleep 4 to 12 people, Historic Lodge Guest Rooms, Rapids Suites sleeping 4-7 people and in mid-May, our pet-friendly cabins will open up for the summer season! Book now to visit “Grand Lake’s Hidden Gem.”
We enjoyed a long fall at the Rapids! Colors began changing before Labor Day Weekend, and the last of the Golden Aspen Tree leaves fell at the very end of October! Trail Ridge Road closed a few times temporarily in October after substantial snowfalls at high elevations but was officially open well into November.
December is always a magical time of year with beautiful holiday lights strung all over town and individual homes. The annual automated Christmas Light show on CR 4 is always a “must-see.” How about bringing your family along for a “White Christmas in the mountains” or just a quick weekend getaway!
Cold mornings make the heart sing when the sun is shining on freshly fallen snow. Crystals crunch and squeak underfoot and your breath clouds the air. Snow crystals dance in the sunlight, filling the sky with a myriad of diamonds. Soft, big flakes fall silently and build to form a thick layer of light, fluffy snow, perfect for the kids to romp in. Or perhaps an overnight wind causes the snow to coat the windward side of trees creating an amazing effect depending on whether you look north, south, east or west!. Perhaps the lakes have not yet frozen, and the moisture rising in spirit like wisps from the water, coats the willows and trees and exposed grasses in a thick hoar frost which captures the sunlight, sparkling and prismatic.
I bet you want to be here right now!
There are always fun things to do in December in Grand Lake, Colorado, besides shopping, dining and celebrating the Holidays! OnDecember 10 enjoy a “Full Moon Ski” at the Grand Lake Nordic Center. Take in a Christmas show on December 17+18 at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre “Home for the Holidays”. Try your hand at cross country skiing with Free Ski Lessons at the Grand Lake Nordic Center on December 18th. Perhaps you would like to join guided snowshoe and ski tours in Rocky Mountain National Park on December 31st before enjoying dinner at the famous Rapids’ Restaurant and heading outdoors to enjoy the spectacular fireworks at midnight! We still have a few rooms left for New Year’s Eve, so book today! We have amazing low season rates/hotel deals during this winter season and some of our rooms are pet-friendly.
Let the Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant make your December trip to the Colorado mountains truly special and memorable.
Shadow Mountain Reservoir October 12, 2016
The last of the fall colors are evident in the high country of Grand County, Colorado. Grand Lake is quiet and peaceful and preparing for a coating of snow. We have had a few snowfalls up high and Trail Ridge Road has closed temporarily but with all this nice weather coming up expect that it will be open quite a bit longer. We still have some golden Aspen Trees here at the Rapids Lodge.
The lakes are beautiful right now with waterfowl occasionally disturbing the tranquil waters. Bring your kayak or get that last hike in for the season! The trails are “all yours” now that the crowds are gone and a good soak at Hot Sulphur Springs is a must after a workout. The elk in Rocky Mountain National Park will bugle through October, their haunting calls echoing through the valleys as they round up their harems.
Grand Lake, Colorado is top of the list if you are looking for Grand Lake hotels deals you can’t beat. You can stay at the Rapids Lodge for just $60 for 2 people and $89 for up to 6 people. Rapids Suites 1-4 are dog friendly so bring the whole family! The Rapids Restaurant is serving dinner Wednesday through Saturday beginning at 5pm. Our riverside location provides a stunning view!
If you can’t visit the Rapids Lodge this month, plan to come up in December, the same great hotel prices still apply. The lakes may still be free of ice in early December, sometimes they have frozen over as late as Christmas. November might bring us a heavy snowfall for all the winter sports and activities that Grand County has to offer: snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, winter hot air ballooning, sleigh rides, dog sled rides and sledding! If you have never tried cross country skiing, take advantage of the Grand Lake Nordic Center’s ” Learn to ski free with Grand Nordic Club instructors. Sign up in advance. All ages, all experience levels, Classic and Skate skiing lessons”.
Contact us today or book online! 970-627-3707
Rocky Mountain National Park
Last year, Rocky Mountain National Park and The Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant turned 100! The RMNP Centennial celebrations were awesome and enjoyed by the myriad visitors to Grand Lake, Colorado. Grand Lake is the Western Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and this little town certainly has the feel of an old western town! Original buildings line the main street, Grand Avenue, and the Grand Lake Area Historical Society has done a great job of preservation in the town. Enjoy the Kauffman House Museum, Smith-Eslick Cottage Court and a great walking tour of historic structures.
The National Park Service Centennial is so exciting! This summer has already been much busier because of this grand celebration and it hasn’t formally begun yet! Make your reservations for hotel rooms in Grand Lake, Colorado, as early as possible. Lodging in Grand Lake Colorado can be hard to find especially on a holiday like Labor Day Weekend (we still have a few rooms available). In early September, the Colorado fall colors and fall roadtrips will bring people from far and wide. Weather is often good well into October and Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park will stay open as late as possible in the season.
The Rapids Lodge has amazing fall rates beginning the second week of October. One hotel deal is a Lodge Guest Room for 2 people from just $ 60 per night. Another great hotel special is that our Rapids Suites, which can sleep up to 6 people, run at just $89 per night. Four of the Rapids Suites are pet-friendly accommodations!
These great hotel specials run all the way through early June next year! Winter is also a great time to visit the national parks and Rocky Mountain National Park certainly offers the quiet and peace of a pristine winter vacation. Although Trail Ridge Road may be closed, you can still access miles and miles of the park via car as the keep the Kawuneechee Valley portion of the road well plowed and in good condition. From there you can snow shoe and cross country ski many trails.
We hope to have you stay with us and dine in our spectacular riverside Rapids Restaurant.
Cascade Falls is located approximately 3.5 miles from the Rapids Lodge on the North Inlet Trail. This is a popular hike that is rated as moderate but is not too challenging. The trail head is located just north of the Rapids Lodge (on the hill above us) and follows the North Inlet river. Terrain varies between open fields and sage, meadows, lodge pole pine forest and old growth Spruce forest. There are some good view points along the way too. These photos were taken in mid-June when the water was really roaring. This is a great trail for anyone to start out with when arriving in Grand Lake, Colorado!
If you are really ambitious you can take the North Inlet Trail all the way up above tree-line and traverse “Flattops” before heading down into Estes Park.
The Tonahutu Trail also leaves from about the same location and follows the Tonahutu River north to Big Meadows and eventually Granite Falls. You can reach the Kawuneechee Visitor’s Center on an off shoot from this trail as well.
The Rapids is in a great location for being able to simply walk everywhere right from your ro0m. Trailheads are right here, the lake is two very short blocks away and the end of the main street (Grand Ave.) where all the shops are, is just one very short block away.
Although many of the peaks weekends in July are booked, there is still great availability during mid-week periods and through all of August. We invite you to stay with us here at the Rapids Lodge “Grand Lake’s Hidden Gem” on the banks of the Tonahutu River.