Colorado Winter Activities

It’s December in the Colorado Rocky Mountains! Although we have not had much snow yet, it’s coming! It always does.

When all that good, white fluffy stuff is here, be ready to get into the great outdoors! Snowshoeing is always a fun adventure no matter how much snow is on the ground and Rocky Mountain National Park is our backyard. The North Inlet and Tonahutu trails leave from right above our property so you don’t need to drive anywhere. Red fox and coyotes might be seen in the meadows.

Later in the season, cross-country skiing at the Grand Lake Nordic Center is a must. They have miles of groomed trails, some are pet-friendly, and offer ski lessons too. The kids will love the tubing hill. Some of their events over the winter are:  Saturday December 17 – Learn to Ski Free Day;  Saturday, December 30 + Saturday, January 27 + Saturday, February 24 + Saturday, March 31 – Full Moon Ski;  Sunday February 11 – Romp and Stomp Fundraiser for Pet Pals;  Wednesday February 14th – Valentine’s Day 2 for 1 passes. Book your Grand Lake, Colorado lodging room at the Rapids Lodge with our great low season rates today!

Ice fishing is already underway in Grand County and the Grand Lake Ice Skating Rink is open!

Of course, it’s not even Christmas yet and all our energy is going into the festive holiday season. The Rapids Restaurant is beautifully decorated, as is the Town of Grand Lake. Shops are open if you are looking for special gifts. The Rapids Restaurant is open on Christmas Eve, book your family dinner with us and enjoy the view, fireplaces and lights. New Year’ Eve this year will be a great time with our annual fireworks over frozen Grand Lake following a sumptuous meal at the Rapids Restaurant. Check out the Special New Year’s Eve Menu at the bottom of the dinner menu page on our website.

Need some more ideas on how to make your Grand Lake Vacation the best it can be? Call us for a friendly chat.

Grand Lake Colorado Fall Vacation

A Colorado Vacation in September or October

Grand County, Colorado has experienced unusual weather this year! January brought endless snow, and nobody had anywhere to put it after shoveling driveways and clearing roads! Then we hardly had any snow for a couple of months. This was all followed up by a snowy April and snowy/wet May. Trail Ridge Road didn’t even manage to open in time for Memorial Day Weekend, and that was not for lack of trying; it just kept snowing at high elevations! June is usually unpredictable weather wise. It can be sunny, snowy, rainy, and most often, all of those in one day! Late June this year was dry, sunny and unseasonably warm. Then the monsoons came in July, and it was more cloudy than usual with longer afternoon sessions of rain, often beginning around noon into the evening. It did this all through August too! August usually brings us quick showers in the afternoons but is generally drier with hot days. The Aspen Trees started turning yellow in spots in late August and although the change sometimes “goes on hold”, this year they have just kept on changing, and it looks like an early peak color in the middle of the month instead of late in September.

Considering all the fires in the North West of the country, we are very grateful for all the moisture and no backyard forest fires! The lakes are all still full as well, including Lake Granby! Full lakes are scenic and are great to be out on in the fall weather. Come fishing and boating in Grand County, Colorado!

What will October, November, and December bring? Will it be an early winter or will we have a warm and sunny October? Will the lakes freeze in early or late December? We look forward to finding out. The elk are usually bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park at the West Entrance through early October. The bull elk, moose and mule deer are all sporting impressive racks at this time of the year. We invite you to visit us a go bird and wildlife watching, hiking and sightseeing. There are excellent hunting opportunities in the Arapaho National Forest. Soak the day away at Hot Sulphur Springs in the outdoor pools under an open sky! Grand Lake, Colorado is a great place to visit in October – the crowds are gone, the shops and restaurants are waiting to welcome you and there are some great sales!

Grand Lake, Colorado Entry sign

Grand Lake, Colorado

The Rapids Restaurant will be serving lunch and dinner 6 days a week through October 7th closed on Tuesdays). Thereafter we will switch to our low season schedule of dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Our amazing low season hotel rates begin October 8th!

The Rapids will be open a little later than usual this year before we take out fall break and that means we will be open for Halloween! Our last night open will be Saturday, November 5th and then we take a break until December 1st, 2017. Book your September or October Colorado Vacation with us today!

Picnic spots in Grand County, Colorado

Picnic spots in Grand County, Colorado

There are so many great places to have a picnic lunch in a scenic location in Grand County, just a short distance from the Rapids Lodge. The Historic Rapids and Restaurant is the perfect place for a Colorado family vacation or getaway. Take advantage of the last weeks of August to experience the remaining Rocky Mountain Summer or visit us in fall when the Aspen Trees paint the landscape gold.  Late summer and fall days are often clear and dry, and the scenery glows with color.

One of the closest spots is at the East end of Grand Lake, right next to the Adams Tunnel (takes water to the Front Range). Enjoy a few picnic tables and a view over Grand Lake to the West. An evening picnic might serve up a spectacular sunset. The fishing is good in this location due to the flow of water.

Pine Beach

At the West end of Grand Lake, Point Park offers covered pavilions, picnic tables, charcoal grills and a truly spectacular view over Grand Lake and our iconic “Mount Baldy”. There is a viewing dock with information panels and the bridge over the channel connecting Grand Lake to Shadow Mountain Reservoir is a renowned place from which to dangle your fishing line. Moose frequent this spot too!

Heading south towards Granby will bring you to Pine Beach on Shadow Mountain Reservoir. Here there are several picnic tables with charcoal grills on a spit of land overlooking the islands. Bird watching here is excellent whether it be nesting Osprey, Bald Eagles, White Pelicans, Common Mergansers and much more. Again, this is a great place to see moose.

Just a hop skip and a jump away is the Green Ridge Picnic Area with an expansive view and tables ready for your picnic basket. There is an Osprey nest right next to one of the tables and it great to watch the growing chick get fed by the parents. They will leave the best soon after Labor Day Weekend.

Green Mountain

There are numerous opportunities in Rocky Mountain National Park, some with charcoal grills and quite a few with picnic tables. These areas overlook the meadows and the willows, perfect for seeing Elk, Deer, and Moose, perhaps even a coyote.

Enjoy all that the great outdoors in Grand County has to offer and the Rapids’ river front. If you aren’t in the mood to organize a picnic, the Rapids restaurant can offer you a memorable experience!


Bye Bye Winter! Grand Lake, Colorado

One more month of winter!


Here we are at the end of February and it seems like winter has flown by. Don’t worry – there is still one more month of prime snow conditions to keep us entertained! The Upper Colorado Basin snow-pack levels are still well above average at 150 %. The base for our downhill skiing slopes (Ski Granby Ranch), cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (Grand Lake Nordic Center) and snowmobiling in the Arapaho National Forest is really good, and that will extend the season for all those activities. The Rapids Lodge will have rooms to rent through April 1st, so if your Spring Break is early, make the Rapids Lodge your base (room start at just $60/night). There is so much to do!

Now that the weather is warmer, moose are more active and have been seen around town a lot lately. The ice-fishing is great too.  During the warmer periods of February, the river right in front of the Rapids, began to open up here and there. We could see that the river otters had been hopping in and out of the openings leaving telltale tracks with tail drag marks. After a fresh snow, there are always red fox tracks all over the snow covered, frozen river. The squirrels are out and about on warm days too. Wildlife sightings are something that make Colorado Vacations truly memorable. We are one of the best places to pick out of all the Rocky Mountain National Park lodging options.  Now


Beginner Snowshoe Rocky Mountain National Park

Enjoy a Rocky Mountain National Park hike on snowshoes! It’s easy. If you don’t have your own gear, rent from Never Summer Mountain Products or the Grand Lake Nordic Center. Saturday March 4, 2017


Intermediate Snowshoe Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunday March 5, 2017


Grand Lake Catch & Release Ice Fishing Contest

Saturday March 4, 2017 – Sunday March 5, 2017

This is something the whole family can do even if you have never tried it before! Rocky Mountain Outfitters will get you set up and on the right track. A family of 6 can stay at the Rapids Lodge for as little as $89 per night!


Full Moon Ski

Grand Lake Nordic Center
Saturday March 11, 2017

Snow Mountain Ranch Stampede Ski Race 

Saturday March 11 and Sunday March 12, 2017

Celebrate Women’s Aviation History
Emily Warmer Field, Granby
Friday March 17, 2017

Grand County Concert Series – Atlantic Brass 

Friday March 17, 2017

Kauffman House Museum Open

Saturday March 18, 2017

 The Grand Lake Area Historical Society has done a great job recreating one of Grand Lake’s first hotels. They have excellent seasonal exhibits too.


Soon it will be spring in the Rockies and the Tonahutu River will be rushing by. When this snow-pack melts, we expect a river that really wants to overflow its banks! It will be something to see. It’s never too early to start thinking about Mother’s Day and Memorial Day Weekend at the Rapids Lodge and Restaurant. Spring will soon be in the cool mountain  air!


Don’t forget, we are one of the best hotels in Grand Lake, Colorado!

Grand Lake Colorado in the Winter

What will winter bring?

November was unseasonably warm and except for a few days following a snow storm, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park remained open into November! The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold winter with average snow – good for playing in! Who knows when winter will arrive in Grand Lake, Colorado, but it is coming, so start making your plans for a winter vacation in the Colorado Rockies.

The Rapids Lodge will be open from December 1st through the winter and we have unbeatable winter rates: stay for just $60 per night for 2 people or $89 for up to 6 people! Some of the one bedroom Rapids Suites are pet-friendly. We offer the widest variety of accommodation in Grand Lake and some of our adjoining condos sleep up to 12. Our Grand Lake condos sleep 2-12 and offer either electric, gas or wood burning fireplaces. We are just a block from the end of the main street in town (Grand Ave.) and just 2 short blocks to the lake so you can walk everywhere.

Grand Lake Colorado

Grand Lake Colorado

If you would like to rent a snowmobile for your stay, contact “On The Trail Rentals” or “Grand Adventures”, then you can park right outside your room at the Rapids and access the 100 miles + of groomed snowmobile trails in the Arapahoe National Forest right from town. There are two snowmobile poker runs in February which raise money for good causes and anyone can join in – “Flight for Life Snowmobile Poker Run” and “Rocky Mountain Warriors”.

Some of the activities you can enjoy in our area include winter hot air ballooning, dog sled rides, sleigh rides, ice fishing (there are several Grand County Ice Fishing Competitions during the winter), snow shoeing, cross country skiing, sledding, ice-skating, shopping and romantic dinners. The Rapids Restaurant (opening December 9th) is a great place to host your holiday party whether for work or family. Call us today!

Are you looking for a reason to visit Grand County, Colorado this winter? Check out the December activities below:

December 2 – 13th Annual Festival of Trees – Fraser 4-8pm

December 4 – Free Cross Country Ski Lesson at Snow Mountain Ranch

December 7+8 – “The Importance of being Earnest” presented at Crooked Creek Young Life Camp

December 10 – Full Moon Ski at Grand Lake Nordic Center

December 12 – Granby’s Birthday Party Celebration 11am to 1pm

December 17+18 – “Home for the Holidays” at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

December 17+18 – Break the Ice Weekend at Snow Mountain Ranch – free family

December 18 – Free Ski Lessons =- Grand Lake Nordic Center

December 24 – Torchlight Parade at Winter Park Resort

December 26+27 – Kauffman House Museum Open

December 31

Kauffman House Museum Open – 10pm to midnight

December 31 – Ski the Wilderness in Winter – Rocky Mountain National Park

Beginner Snow Shoe – Rocky Mountain National Park

December 31 – Fireworks at midnight – Grand Lake

December 31 – New Year’s Eve at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

Later in the winter, the Grand Lake Winter Carnival is a must for family winter fun. Martin Luther King Weekend and President’s Day Weekend and Valentine’s offer great opportunities for a quick getaway.

The winter playground of Grand County and Grand Lake, Colorado is waiting for you!

Grand Lake Hotels and Deals

Shadow Mountain Reservoir October 12, 2016

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

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.

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!

Organizing a Family Reunion?

The holidays are a great time to begin planning a family reunion in Grand Lake, Colorado. After all, what better time of year for families to connect and begin planning their family reunion for the summer! Of course, you might consider a winter reunion too. The Rapids Lodge is the perfect spot to get together for so many reasons. Firstly, our property is just off the end of the main street (Grand Ave.) so although you are staying in town, you don’t feel like you are right in the middle of things. All the shops are just a very short block away and the lake just two short blocks down the hill! So everyone can walk the town and enjoy all it has to offer!

Rapids Condo 4B

Our property has the most variety in accommodations available in one place, in Grand County. Enjoy our River View Condos which all face the river and have either a patio or balcony with a great view. These sleep 4 to 8 people and book very quickly. The Rapids Condos have adjoining rooms allowing the two largest condos to expand and become a three bedroom, three bathroom combinations, perfect if you all like to be together. The large condos face the river and this building has a great communal BBQ area right along the water with picnic table, grills and benches.You may have some families with four-legged members that they would love to bring along on this Colorado adventure, and we will welcome them. Our four cabins are all pet-friendly as are the lower Rapids Suites. Three of the cabins were built in 1925 and one was built in 1904. Each is decorated differently with lots of historic character. The Rapids Suites are the newest units on property, modern and spacious. The Rapids Suites building also offers a fully handi-capped accessible unit which is perfect for anyone using a wheelchair or simply having mobility issues. Grandparents often find this unit to be the easiest and most comfortable choice.River View Condo 8

Lastly, for the couple or single family member, the Rapids Lodge Guest Rooms in the historic building sleep just two people and are all they need. The third floor of this building is actually a two bedroom, two bathroom unit with a large living area that may just fit the needs of a family with older children or a group of singles. The historic building is for adults only (and ghosts).

BBQ area at Rapids CondosSo now that you are all booked in Grand Lake, what do you do? The options are endless. Rocky Mountain National Park boasts the Town of Grand Lake as its West Entrance, and the North Inlet and Tonahutu trails leave from just above us on the hill. Take a horse ride into the park if hiking is not your thing. The national park offers programs throughout the summer and a great visitor center with theatre. We always suggest a drive over Trail Ridge Road to Estes Park along the highest continuous highway in the continental USA! Our three lakes offer endless opportunities for boating, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, fishing and swimming. The town offers a bowling alley, mini-golf and an electric go-kart track, restaurants, a playground, ice-cream shops and much more. For a night out, we recommend attending a Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre production following a delicious dinner, fun for the whole family. Grand Lake has history too: the Kauffman House Museum is the old hotel decorated in period pieces and the Smith-Eslick Cottage Court is the oldest motor inn in the USA! There is also a walking tour that will take you around town and explain historical tidbits about each place you pass. ATV rentals are popular and have extensive trails that you can follow in the Arapahoe National Forest.

So, there is something for everybody and more. We will be happy to help you plan a truly memorable family reunion and you may just end up like families, and come back year after year! We hope so!

Fall Getaways and Hotels in Grand Lake

Why visit Grand Lake in October?


The month of October can offer fabulous weather in the Rockies, or a dusting of snow! It is a peaceful month and folks who don’t like crowds love to visit Rocky Mountain National Park at this time of the year. The elk are still bugling and the trails are quiet. Sunny days can be t-shirt warm, and the scenery always astounds.


Looking for affordable Hotels in Grand Lake?

Take advantage of one of the Rapids Lodge hotels deals: enjoy a one bedroom Rapids Suite that can sleep up to six people and has a fully equipped kitchen for just $89 per night. Rapids Suite 4 is a studio that runs at just $60 per night! The lower level Rapids Suites (1-4) are all pet-friendly so you can vacation with your four legged family member!
If a smaller, more romantic room is your style, Trails End or Garden Room on the second floor of the historic lodge building might be perfect for you at just $60 per night.
Hotels in Grand Lake
The Rapids Restaurant will be open for dinner four nights a week in October, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Enjoy a sumptuous meal with a view over the spot-lit river. Cozy up in front of the lobby fireplace with a nightcap before bed.

Ideas for Daytime Activities in October:

  • – Hike to Adams Falls, just 0.3 of a mile
  • – Drive Trail Ridge Road (average closing date Oct. 23)
  • – Listen to the elk bugle in Rocky Mountain National Park at sunset
  • – Shop downtown for early Christmas gifts
  • – Soak at Hot Sulphur Springs
  • – Book a relaxing massage with Sarah Chabot
  • – Take a Hot Air Balloon ride and soar above the Rockies
  • – Fish Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain, and Lake Granby
  • – Read that book you have wanted to read for ages
If you a Colorado hunter, you will find some of our larger units ideal for groups if you don’t want to rough it at a hunting camp!
We invite you enjoy the peace and quiet in Grand County, hear the crunch of Aspen leaves underfoot and completely relax when you visit Grand Lake, Colorado