Winter Weekend Getaways

Summer is fast fading away and fall colors are peaking in Grand County, Colorado. Elk and Moose are rutting and mornings are frosty. We have already had a dusting of snow on the mountain peaks. So we know winter is on its way!

Winter getaways Grand Lake Colorado

Winter getaways Grand Lake Colorado

The Rapids Lodge is a great place to stay for Grand Lake’s Constitution Week in mid-September. Then there is Halloween! Before we know it, snow will blanket everything and Grand Lake will have been transformed into a Winter Wonderland! Some of you may already be dreaming of winter days, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing among the peaks. Well, we are the place to stay. The Rapids has great off- season rates and we have a great location, close to everything.

Imagine cold, starry nights, soft snow flakes falling, alpenglow on white-capped peaks, moose in the willows, snow shoe hares under the spruce and vast, breathtaking scenery! Oh, Grand Lake is magical in the winter, all the lights and a towering lit tree at the end of the main street. A more heart-warming Christmas is hard to imagine and perhaps you will see the New Year in with a bang, fireworks over the frozen lake. Tubing and ice skating, sled dog and sleigh rides, a little icy fishing, warm fires and a soak in hot springs – Grand County, Colorado has it all!

Get out of town, take a break and revitalize your soul in the mountains. Weekdays or weekends, Grand Lake will welcome you with smiles and good food. Martin Luther King Weekend, President’s Weekend, Winter Carnival, snowmobile races and rides, make your plans today

Moose in Grand Lake Colorado

Where to see Moose?

Why, the Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant in Grand Lake, Colorado of course.

Moose love our river …..  the cool water and the willows that line the shore. July brought an impressively large bull moose to the opposite banks quite regularly. Our lunch and dinner guests got to watch him at leisure and took home some great photographs.  He would nonchalantly munch on willows and now and again, take a long drink at the river’s edge. On occasion he would also wade the river, coming to our side of the riverbank, just south of the Rapids. His antlers grew larger and larger each week. One morning during check out, he wandered right through the middle of the parking lot and then his immense size was really evident. He towered over parked cars and even the dumpsters and so on.

Moose in Grand Lake Colorado

Moose in Grand Lake Colorado

Each season brings different regular visitors. Sometimes its a fox that hangs around, sometimes a black bear includes the Rapids property in his regular nightly patrol, or perhaps we have a few deer that frequent our flower beds.  Some summers we have had a mama moose with a single youngster or even twins, meander past our flower pots for a little extra greenery.

Even if you don’t see the wildlife in town, Rocky Mountain National Park will certainly offer up some great sightings. Early mornings and late evening are the best time for wildlife viewing.  Elk, Mule Deer, Red Fox, Coyotes, Yellow Bellied Marmots, Ground Squirrels, Chickaree Squirrels, Chipmunks and more.

Don’t forget about birding Rocky Mountain National Park!

Fire danger is high in Grand Lake!

Grand Lake had a big scare on June 28th, 2018 and I this is my personal experience.

Fire in Grand Lake

Fire in Grand Lake

On Thursday afternoon, I left the lobby of the Rapids to check something in a room and I noticed a wisp of smoke on the horizon directly West of us, over the hill near the Grand Lake Golf Course. By the time I returned from the guest room, the plume of smoke had thickened and broadened and was an ugly dark color.  I immediately phoned my Columbine Lake home to warn them that there was a fire and it was rapidly growing; they should prepare in case of evacuation orders. Not long after that, I received word homes along the golf course road and in the southern section of Columbine were being evacuated. Those of us who lived in the area, dropped everything and hastily raced home.

On the way home, my car thermometer read 87 F, and that didn’t change with further driving later in the day. It was so very hot for a Grand Lake summer day, usually in the mid 70’s. The wind had also kicked up.

I stopped at a friend on the way home for a second. They were already throwing things in the car and they told me that a man on the horse had ridden by to warn them that although they weren’t in the line of fire, they probably had 45 minutes before formal evacuation orders were in place.

On arrival home, I instantly started reviewing my “fire” list: files, important documents, photo albums, computer….. and if I had time, clothes, water and a little bit of food. The mandatory evacuation call came in. We hooked up the little sail boat figuring that at least we could live in that if we had to for a while, cramped and basic though it would be.

At the time of our hurried departure, I noticed a neighbor had not begun packing their car and banged on their door, alerting them to the mandatory evacuation. A staging area had not been selected at that time and we decided to not clog up town but rather to head down to the Stillwater boat ramp to the south. Amazingly, when we got there, friends texted to say they had been offered a house to stay in and did we want to join them. Yes!

It was nerve wracking watching the smoke, the spotter plane, the helicopters with water bags and the slurry bombers. The big planes took several passes to determine the air flow and line up for dropping fire retardant, then they would disappear below the tree line as they flew the dangerous path to quell the fire.  We heard a little later the slurry bombers had to be sent home because a drone was being flown and making it too dangerous for the big planes.  Soon the smoke began to diminish and we enjoyed a beautiful moonrise before turning in for a restless night.

In the morning we were relieved that the smoke had dissipated from our fire, although the sky was hazy from the larger fire far to the south of us.  By early morning, the smoke began to clear and the afternoon was beautiful. The evacuation order remained in place until 7pm that evening as they worked to douse hotspots and ensure conditions didn’t change and cause flare-ups.

We were so happy and relieved and grateful to sleep in our own beds Friday night!

The Grand Lake Recreation Area and Golf Course had done extensive tree clearing on the south side of golf course road last fall and winter. If they hadn’t done that, this story might have turned out very differently.

The Town of Grand Lake was never affected thank goodness. Businesses stepped up to help the evacuees among many other volunteers. The Grand Lake Center became the staging area for evacuees with food, refreshments and cots. Not many people end up staying there because in this lovely, little town, many of the community members took so many people into their homes.

Hotspot work continued for days to ensure no further flare-ups. The Town of Grand Lake wisely cancelled the 4th of July fireworks and we were grateful for that decision. A stage 2 fire ban is in place and the air is dry and hot. Do your rain dance folks! So much of Colorado is under pressure from wild fires and we hope everyone stays safe, and that all the amazing folks fighting those fires stay safe, and start to make some headway.

Its spring in Grand Lake, Colorado!

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

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.

Community

Community – by Faith Zak, Rapids Lodge Front Desk

I am writing about “Community” and what it means in a small town like Grand Lake, Colorado. I went to the neighborhood Church throughout my childhood and my Pastor was amazing. He was there for tragedy, illness and bringing new babies into the world, he was a truly caring person and he taught our church what Community really means. When I was a young adult, married with kids, my Pastor passed away from cancer but left me with a longing for that feeling of being a part of a Community and it was not until I moved to Grand Lake, Colorado that I really felt that feeling of Community again.

Grand Lake, Colorado

Grand Lake, Colorado

Grand Lake is a true community and whether you are a full-time resident, or part-time resident, or on vacation, you are a part of this special Community.  I work at the front desk at The Rapids Lodge and Restaurant, and I do my part to make every person walking through the door to feel like they are a part of this Community, because they are! I want everyone to feel like they belong because that is how I feel, and maybe when you leave our town you will take a part of that feeling of community home and pass that on to others.

You might ask yourself how it is possible to feel like a part of a Community while passing through on vacation. Well that is easy … it is really the little things such as, if you see someone on the side of the road with car problems, stop and see if you can help, open the door for someone, help a parent carry something when you see they have their hands full with their kiddos on the beach or in town. Perhaps you strike up a conversation with someone at a restaurant and buy them a drink, or even just ask how their day is going.

Be kind, kindness goes a long way.

Grand Lake, Colorado Wheelchair Accessibility

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

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Rapids Lodge A Grand Lake, Colorado Hotel

Rapids Lodge A Grand Lake, Colorado Hotel

Well, this March certainly did not live up to its reputation of being the biggest snow month! After our record January snow accumulation, the rest of the winter was pretty wimpy. No more big snows, no extended cold snaps. Spring definitely arrived in Grand Lake, like elsewhere in the country, three weeks early. The Tonahutu River began opening up in earnest around March 24th and by the 29th, the water was flowing more strongly. By the end of March, the Alders were already blooming along the lake shores. Grand Lake ice was breaking up on April 12th and Lake Granby was largely free of ice by April 15. All the lakes were clear of ice soon after. Boating channel markers were in by mid-April! The Town of Grand Lake will be putting two new docks in at the East Boat Ramp on Grand Lake in May!

So here we are in late April and bulbs are blooming, the grass is greening up and a few green leaves are beginning to appear. Days have been in the 60’s and the weather has been up to its usual spring tricks; rain, snow, sunshine all in a space of a few hours. The last few days of April were cool, and cloudy with flurries but that’s great – the snowpack won’t melt too fast! Moose are really beginning to move around as well. We have seen quite a few yearling moose off on their own, and that means one thing, mom is getting ready to have a new baby. Even the bears woke up early, our local Houdini Bear squeezed into the bear proof dumpster for a little snack on April 18th and 20th.

May is going to be exciting. When all the snow melts, and there is still lots of it up high, the rivers will be rushing, Lake Granby will soon be brimming, and the snow-capped mountains will provide a spectacular backdrop to our stunning scenery.

The Rapids Lodge is open for the summer season starting Monday, May 1st. The Rapids Restaurant is open beginning Friday, May 5th. Restaurant hours TBA – keep an eye on our Restaurant Hours page. Lunch service begins Memorial Day Weekend!

Mother’s Day is coming up, and as you know, the Rapids is the perfect place to treat her to something special; a weekend away and a dinner at the Rapids Restaurant. We also still have some availability for Memorial Day Weekend and that is always fun, especially with the Monday parade!

Getaway ideas for Grand Lake Colorado

October Getaway Ideas ….

So the fall colors are at their tail end but the elk are still bugling away in Rocky Mountain National Park. What a great time of year to see the grand bull elk round up there harems and defend them. The elk herds appear out of the trees every day like clockwork at dusk and you are guaranteed a sighting! If you are an early riser, you can watch them head back into the trees after a night in the meadow.

Grand Lake Colorado

Grand Lake Colorado

The scenery in Grand Lake, Colorado is always breathtaking no matter what time of year, the mountain scenery and the sparkling lakes always astound. October is a great time to visit for those who like to avoid the crowds. The Rapids Lodge begins offering low season rates at the beginning of the month: stay for as low as $60 for 2 people and $89 for up to 6 people.  Some of these are pet-friendly so the whole family can come along!

There is still plenty to do besides shopping and dining out in Grand Lake (The Rapids Restaurant will be serving dinner during October, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Fishing, hiking, hot air ballooning  and biking can still be enjoyable as any random snowfall is not likely to stick until November. If it does get a little cool, soak in Hot Sulphur Springs or snuggle up in front of one of our fireplaces. Beware that if a substantial snowfall occurs at higher elevations, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park may close, even if temporarily. Permanent closure usually happens when plowing the road becomes too difficult but can be late into October. Access to Grand Lake from Granby is year round.

The Arapahoe National Forest offers great hunting and if you are not the camping type, access is very quick and easy from the Rapids Lodge.  The Rapids has some larger condominiums  which can accommodate larger hunting groups if you are visiting Grand County with friends.

The National Park Service Centennial begins August 25, 2016!

The National Park Service Centennial

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.

Grand Lake Memorial Day Parade

The three day Memorial Day Weekend is the precursor to summer fun! The great outdoors is waiting for you in a small town called Grand Lake, Colorado. This gateway town of the Rocky Mountain National Park is perfect for families and is the quieter side of the park. Just one main street with one stop sign! Step back in time and enjoy the ambiance of an authentic western town bordered by 3 lakes and astounding scenery.

The Rapids Lodge has rooms starting from just $89 per night for up to 6 people. These one bedroom suites offer a comfortable living area and a full kitchen. Different bedding configurations allow you to make the perfect choice for your family. If you have some four legged family members, bring them along too! Rapids Suites 1 through 4 are pet friendly. There are some great deals for couples too.

Memorial Day Parade

Grand Lake will be open for business and Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park will be open too. Don’t miss seeing the towering snowbanks the park employees have cut through at 12,000 feet! Wildlife will be active and visible. Take a boat out on a lake or walk a trail to Adam’s Falls. Enjoy lunch by the river at the Rapids Lodge or shop in town to your heart’s content.

Grand Lake Memorial Day parade The Grand Lake Memorial Day Parade & Ceremony is always a weekend highlight for the whole family. Starting at 10am on Monday May 30th, our townsfolk and visitors join in the fun. See horses and floats, fire trucks and more. 2016 Memorial Day Parade Registration. After the parade, head to the town park for the ceremony and live music.