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.

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

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!

 

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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.

Visit the Rapids Lodge late fall early winter

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

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

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
  • Sledding
  • 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

 

 

 

It’s almost fall in Colorado!

This summer has flown by and it’s been a wet one for the Colorado Mountains. Nights have been, on average, a little cooler. Perhaps this will bring a fabulous, dry fall bursting with color! Colors have already started to change here and there, the odd willow, a few Aspen Trees, the grass in the meadows …. it won’t be long before the scenery is bursting with color.

Fall in Colorado

Perhaps you have made your fall vacation plans and perhaps some of you are waiting to see when peak color will be. Either way, we encourage you to book soon for fall accommodation at the Rapids. A River View Condo at the Rapids is always the prime spot but there is charm in every room whether it is Lodge Guest Room 6 “Treehouse Suite” or a Rapids Cabins with a fireplace. Our Rapids Suites are spacious and some a dog-friendly too. We invite you to explore our website and enjoy all the wonderful photos of the rooms, property, and area.Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park is a fantastic drive to Estes Park. Plan an evening for spending in the park, watching the Bull Elk round up their harems of females, all the while filling the valley with their haunting “

Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park is a fantastic drive to Estes Park. Plan an evening for spending in the park, watching the Bull Elk round up their harems of females, all the while filling the valley with their haunting “bugling”.  Fall days on the lakes are often warm and still, with the water reflecting blue skies and golden Aspen leaf reflections dance on the water. Try a Starlight soak in Hot Sulphur Springs after a stunning hike. You will likely see Moose around too and the bulls sport really impressive racks in Grand County. We can direct you to some breathtaking fall dives in the area.

A Colorado Fall is just not to be missed, it’s that spectacular!

A fall lunch outside by the river with startlingly blue skies and golden Aspen Leaves is not to be missed. On chilly nights, you may enjoy a fireside table with a view for a sumptuous dinner.

What to expect: May in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

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.

tonahutu-River-Grand-Lake-Colorado

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.”

Fall in Grand Lake Colorado

Fall Foliage Tours …..

Colorado’s fall color is something to behold. The grass, the willows and the Aspen Trees turn a glorious gold. A few red Aspen Trees may be found in patches. If the leaves are backlit, the brilliance of the leaves is unsurpassed!  Fall peak colors may be a bit early this year. Golden trees and willows began appearing in late August and show no signs of slowing down! There are plenty of fall color drives to choose from and Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best!

Grand Lake Colorado

Fall in Grand Lake Colorado

 

Fall in Grand Lake, Colorado also has a few fall festivals and activities to keep you entertained. Our main fall attraction is “Constitution Week” which runs September 12th through 17th. Enjoy talks and fun activities celebrating our constitution and don’t miss the fireworks that bring the week to a close!

The Elk mating season is another reason to visit us here at the Rapids Lodge in the fall. People come from all over the world to witness the bull elk bugling as they round their harems of females up for mating. You mightThe Tonahutu Creek at the Rapids Lodge be lucky enough to see a fight between majestic, antlered bulls. The elk (also known as Wapiti) come out of the trees and gather in the meadows daily at dusk and tourists gather with chairs and blankets on the road verges to witness the action. The bulls elk’s mating call is a haunting sound and will stay in your memory forever.

So head our direction on your fall road trip and enjoy Colorado at its best. The Rapids Lodge is located on the Tonahutu River, at the end of the main street in town (Grand Ave.). You can walk everywhere …. it is just two short blocks to the lake. Some of our accommodations are pet-friendly too. Monarch Lake Trail is a perfect loop for a fall hike with your dog!

The Rapids Restaurant is in a spectacular location overlooking the river . Savor dinner next to the fireplace in the evenings or join us for lunch (served outside on warm fall days).

“Leaf peeping” is just too much fun to miss! Call us today.

Cascade Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

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!

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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.

Spring in the Rockies

IMG_1684 (1)

Spring starts late in the higher elevations of the Rockies. May is when it all begins: the last of the lake ice melts, grass is green and flowers brighten the landscape. Aspen trees bud out and animal babies arrive. If you are thinking of a spring trip to the Colorado mountains, there is plenty to do!

The Rapids Lodge has low season rates in effect until June 9th, 2016 and this means that you can stay as low as $60 for 2 people and $89 for up to 6 people. Some accommodations are pet-friendly too.

  • Hike Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Watch the baby elk in the meadows at dawn and dusk.
  • Keep an eye out for foxes, coyotes, moose, porcupines, deer, marmots, pine martens and weasels. Of course squirrels and cute chipmunks are everywhere!
  • Enjoy lunch Riverside at the Rapids.
  • Take a canoe, pontoon or fishing boat out on any of the three lakes
  • Kids get to have fun at Rocky Mountain Speedway and the min-golf at the hardware store.
  • Play the Grand Lake Gold Course.
  • Fly fish the Colorado River
  • Soak at Hot Sulphur Springs
  • Float up above the valley in a hot air balloon
  • Rent an ATV or bring your own.
  • Grill out at Point Park and enjoy a breathtaking view of Grand Lake and Mount Baldy.
  • Test your Bingo skills in town on the weekend.
  • Attend a Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre performance after dinner at The Rapids
  • Restaurant.
  • Birdwatch mountain, meadow and lake environments.
  • Revel in the rivers rushing by full of spring snowmelt
  • Drive Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park – the highest continuous highway in the United States.
  • There is never a dull moment in Grand Lake Colorado!

MAY

Mother’s Day at the Rapids Lodge and Restaurant!
Sunday May 8th, 2016

History Chat: Early Days of Grand County EMS with Ida Sheriff and Tim Nicklas.
Learn about the needs and history of Emergency Management in Grand County. Meet the first certified EMT in Grand County, Mrs. Ida Sheriff.
6-8pm
Tuesday May 17, 2016

Juniper Library Progressive Dinner
Wednesday May 25, 2016

“Around Granby” History Book Signing
11am -2pm
The area around Granby was developed in the late 1800s and today remain
Friday and Saturday May 27 + 28, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend
May 27+28+29+30
Stay at the Rapids Lodge!

Grand Lake Memorial Day Parade
Monday May 30, 2016

Bingo in Town Park with the Rotary Club of Grand Lake
Saturday and Sunday May 28 + 29, 2016

JUNE

Grand Lake Golf Tournament
9am – 2pm. 970-627-8008
Saturday June 11, 2016

Birds of the Kawuneechee
All day birding excursion. 970-586-3262
Saturday June 11, 2016

Art and Crafts Fair
Saturday Jun 11, 2016 – Sunday Jun 12, 2016

BINGO Every Friday and Saturday 7pm

Ride the Rockies
Wednesday June 15 and Thursday June 16, 2016

2nd Annual Duck Derby
Race your rubber duck! Fundraiser.
Saturday June 18, 2016

Hummingbird Research
Learn about the hummingbird populations in the Rockies while observing field ornithologists as they safely capture and band these remarkable birds. 970-586-3262
Monday June 20, 2016

Secret Places is RMNP – Colorado River
970-586-3262
Friday June 24, 2016

Songwriters in the Round
with Nashville songwriters, Monty Powell, Anna Wilson and Peggy Mann.
Friday June 24th

33rd Annual State of Colorado CASI Chili Cook Off 2016
303-831-5061
Saturday Jun 25, 2016

Painting the Kawuneeche: Beginners Class
970-586-3262
Saturday Jun 25, 2016 – Sunday Jun 26, 2016

Diversity in Wildflowers
970-586-3262
Thursday June 30, 2016

Things to do for Easter ……

Easter comes early this year and the Rapids Restaurant will be open for Easter Sunday dinner on March 27, 2016! Lodging will be open through the night of the 26th of March (we will take our spring break March 27th through May 1st as we prepare for a busy summer season beginning May 2nd).

Easter Grand Lake Easter and spring break are great opportunities to get the family away together and enjoy the great outdoors during the tail end of winter. Bring a group of friends and your four-legged family member along too. Our pet-friendly rooms are spacious and comfortable and sleep up to 6 people for just $89 per night on our “winter special offer”.

Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about Grand Lake weather. February has been a little warmer than usual and snowfalls of 1-3 inches periodically have kept things fresh. The snowpack is still above average in our basin for this time of year. This means there is still a great base of compacted snow on hiking and snowmobile trails. As soon as you get a little higher in elevation, there is still an amazing amount of snow to play in. If anything, compacted trails mean you can go faster and further on snowshoe trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, with much less effort than feet of fresh powder would demand.

12308127_10153724700012552_6964529756002343896_oSo what else is there to keep you busy? Try ice-fishing (check out Fish Explorer for some great information). Rocky Mountain Outfitters will rent you ice fishing gear and get you set for success. Snowmobiling in the high country is a great experience with unbelievable views from the 100 or so miles of groomed trails which are easy to negotiate for any skill level. The Grand Lake Nordic Center will provide you with snow shoes or cross country skis and teach you how to get around the trail system. Rocky Mountain National Park trails are a real adventure but stay aware that you might bump into a moose anywhere, even in town! Try winter hot air ballooning or dog sled racing followed up by a relaxing soak in the hot pools of Hot Sulphur Springs.

Grand Lake is a true western town with history and character, old buildings and a historical walking tour. It is easy to envision the old days of the Old West as you walk the streets shopping. Just one stop sign in town and everything is in walking distance. Although the Grand Lake Lodge is closed, there is still plenty to see. The Rapids Lodge and Restaurant really is the “hidden gem of Grand Lake”. The historic lodge building was established in 1915 and offers an astonishingly cozy interior with 2 fireplaces, comfy couches and a view over the frozen Tonahutu River. The food is simply delicious, the wine list is extensive. The Lodge Guest Rooms upstairs are all quaintly different and inviting, sleeping 2 to 6 adults. We have two of these rooms on a “Winter Special Offer” of just $60 per night. Book them soon – at that great rate, they disappear fast.

So when you are searching for Grand Lake CO Lodging options, think of us.