Summer Attractions in Grand Lake Colorado

Summer Attractions in Grand Lake Colorado

Tonahutu River in Summer

Summer Attractions in Grand Lake Colorado and surrounding area. Breathtaking Scenery, Unlimited Hiking & Plenty of Outdoor Fun!

Rocky Mountain National Park

Discover one of our country’s greatest treasures — Rocky Mountain National Park. The park was opened in 1915 and was the 4th most visited National Park in the United States in 2016. The West Entrance to the park is located just minutes from the gateway town of Grand Lake, Colorado, making it a perfect day time visit while staying at the Rapids Lodge and Cabins. Your trip may include following the route of the Historic Circle Tour which began at the front range and traveled to Estes Park on the east side, through the park on Trail Ridge Road, with a stop in Grand Lake before returning to the Denver area. For the adventurous, the unpaved “Old Fall River Road” is an alternate route to the Trail Ridge Store. Grand Lake is definitely the quieter, wilder side of the park and this historic, authentic, western town has a main street with just one stop sign! Enjoy three lakes and endless trails. The Tonahutu and North Inlet trails start from just above the Rapids Lodge. We are the perfect location for an overnight stay at the beginning or end of your hike over Flattops from Bear Lake in Estes Park.

Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road is considered one of the scenic wonders of the world. Topping in elevation at 12,183 feet, 11 miles of this paved road is above tree line and will take you across the continental divide. The views of the mountains “at the top of the world” are spectacular and there are two excellent visitor centers. The Alpine Visitor Center is located at the peak of Trail Ridge Road, and the Kawuneechee Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Grand Lake, Colorado. Herds of elk are often see along the road, along with moose, bighorn sheep, deer, red foxes and coyotes. 
The Aspens showcase Colrado’s fall colors in September and this is a perfect time to get away and enjoy Grand County’s abundant beauty. Enjoy a trip through Rocky Mountain National Park across Trail Ridge Road and into Grand Lake. Stay at the Rapids for a relaxing night and fine dining overlooking the fall colors. Trail Ridge Road becomes buried in snow in the winter and is closed seasonally between late fall and Memorial Day Weekend. However, even in winter, there are 8 miles of plowed road allowing cross country skiers, snowshoe enthusiasts and wildlife watchers to access trails deep in the park.

Arapaho National Forest

This National Forest encompasses land straddling the Continental Divide from Colorado to Wyoming. The forest is open to day time visits and overnight camping. Stillwater Pass is a scenic drive in the summer from US 34 to CO 125 and offers astounding views and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Trails are available for hiking, mountain biking, ATV’s, off road motorcycles and snowmobiles. Snowmobiles are allowed on the streets in the town of Grand Lake and a groomed trail allows access to the forest right from your room at the Rapids Lodge. Stay at the Rapids for a Colorado retreat with access to all the natural wonders of our National Forests!

Colorado Wilderness

In a country that seems to grow every day, it’s a treat to know there are still areas within the state of Colorado that are set aside as Wilderness. The Indian Peaks Wilderness and the Troublesome Wilderness areas are both within Grand County. Access is limited but the rewards are genuine. Motorized vehicles are not permitted in Wilderness areas. If you are looking for an excellent dog-friendly trail, try the scenic Monarch Lake 3.9 mile, loop trail at the South-East end of Lake Granby.

Hiking in and around Grand Lake

The closest trails to the Rapids Lodge are the Tonahutu and North Inlet Trails which begin from the just above the Rapids’ property. The Tonahutu Trail can take you to the Kawuneechee Visitor Center or Big Meadows and Granite Falls. The North Inlet Trail will take you to Cascade Falls, and over the Flattops and all the way to Estes Park if you are an avid hiker. The Adams Falls Trailhead leaves from East Inlet and will take you all the way to the alpine Lone Pine Lake. Another popular trail is East Shore Trail, along Shadow Mountain Reservoir. It is scenic and suitable for all ages and abilities. The historic Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout can be reached from an off shoot on this trail and will offer 360 degree views. There are many other trail options within Rocky Mountain Park and the surrounding area. If you have your dog with you, the Grand Lake Recreation Area trails offer lots of options and the Monarch Lake trail is a must. Contact us for more information.

Grand Lake Colorado Fishing

Whether you like ice fishing, lake fishing or fly fishing, Grand Lake, Colorado offers excellent opportunities. Some of Colorado’s gold medal waters are within 30 miles from lodging at the Rapids, for example the Colorado River near Parshall. The North Inlet Trail in the Rocky Mountain National Park offers some wonderful pools that always yield trout, not too far from the Rapids Lodge, and you can walk to your fishing spot. After spring runoff, and the Tonahutu river drops to a light cascade with nice pools; many guests have had great fun pulling small Browns from the river right in from of the Rapids Restaurant. Some other great locations to try are the channel between Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir and the spillway at Shadow Mountain dam. If you are a novice, we recommend hiring a fishing guide who will set you up with equipment and teach you the ropes no matter what kind of fishing you want to try. Ice fishing is a huge attraction in Grand Lake in the winter and there are two ice fishing competitions every winter that are fun for the whole family; kids can compete too! Colorado’s sunny weather often means that a day of ice fishing is met with blue skies, warm sunshine and endless views.


The Rocky Mountain region is home to many species of birds and you will be entertained by endless sightings. The American Dipper is common along the Tonahutu River, visible from your Rapids room or from your river view table in the Rapids Restaurant. Other birds that you might see in the area include White-Tailed Ptarmigan, Brown Capped Rosy Finches, Common Redpolls (winter), Clark’s Nutcrackers, Stellar Jays, Three Toed Woodpecker, Western Tanager, Dusky Grouse, Mountain Chickadee, Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, Mountain Chickadee, Pygmy Nuthatch and more. Although the Grand Lake area is largely Lodgepole Pine forest, there are a few Ponderosa Pine on the dry, south facing slopes above Grand Lake. Water bodies include Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, Lake Granby, Willowcreek Reservoir and Windy Gap on the Colorado River. The lakes offer the opportunities to see summer residents: White Pelicans, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Barrows Golden-Eye, Bufflehead, Western Grebes, Spotted Sandpipers and many more. A day trip to the Arapaho Wildlife Refuge in North Park near Walden is a must (look for Greater Sandgrouse) and dryer pinon ecosystems are just a short drive away. Grand Lake is part of the Colorado Birding Trail.

Grand Lake Colorado Hunting

Grand County is home to big game such as mountain lion, bear, elk and deer. For the Sportsmen and Sportswomen in your family a seasonal getaway in the fall is a must. The Arapaho National Forest borders the Town of Grand Lake and if you are not into camping while you hunt, the Rapids Lodge offers the perfect base. Some of our condos sleep 8-12 people so bring your family and friends for an economical Colorado hunting trip.

Winding River Dude Ranch

Winding River Ranch is a beautiful 525-acre property bordered by Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho National Forest. Guided horse-back rides into Rocky Mountain National Park are available and over two miles of the Colorado River flows through the ranch. A winter sleigh ride is a truly memorable experience. Enjoy their animal farm, attend an outdoor cowboy church service or explore the carriage and sleigh museum. The ranch is located just a few miles from the village of Grand Lake.

Hot Air Balloon Rides

Grand Adventures offers spectacular hot air balloon rides in the Fraser Valley summer and winter.

Kayaks, Canoes, SUP and Grand Lake pleasure boat rentals

Kayaks and canoes are available for rent from the two marinas in Grand Lake Village. Boaters Choice and Headwaters Marina are just a couple of short blocks away from the Rapids; and offer pontoon boats, fishing boats and paddle boats. Enjoy the Grand Lake swimming beach too. Stand up paddle board rentals are also available. Headwaters Marina provides an interesting historical tour of Grand Lake’s colorful people of the past and will take you past the historic homes along the shore of Grand Lake, including the Hall House (Hallmark greeting cards) which can only be accessed by boat in the summer.

Adventures in White Water

If you are searching for fun and adventure, you have found it!  An exciting whitewater raft trip in Grand County will create lifelong memories for the whole family. Adventures in Whitewater offers a variety of trips for all ages on both the Upper Colorado River and Clear Creek.  From first time beginners to expert paddlers, you will get the trip that is right for you.  Children as young as 4 years old can enjoy rafting on the Colorado.

Trail Ridge Marina

Trail Ridge Marina on Shadow Mountain Reservoir is conveniently located along U.S. Highway 34 near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The marina is only 2 ½ miles south of Grand Lake, Colorado. You can explore the natural beauty of the area, fish, picnic, and travel by boat to Grand Lake, Colorado and tie up to the town pier for some shopping and dining, or just relax in the sun. Enjoy the 2 hour eco-tour that provides insight into the fascinating ecology and history of Shadow Mountain Reservoir.

Hot Sulphur Springs Resort

Thirty-five thousand feet below the surface of the earth, the heat of volcanic rock is released through countless fissures that spread out through the earth’s crust. At Hot Sulphur Springs Resort, there are spa services, 21 outdoor pools and 3 indoor pools. This is a wonderfully relaxing experience summer or winter and  a perfect vacation day can be rounded off with a soak and a massage! The springs are located about 22 miles from the Rapids Lodge and Restaurant.

Biking in Grand County

Grand County is host to miles of mountain biking trails. Winter Park alone boasts over 600 miles of marked, mapped and user-friendly trails, contributing to its apropos nickname “ Mountain Bike Capital, USA . ”  The closest downhill mountain bike track is at Granby Ranch and don’t forget about the endless trails in the Arapaho National Forest. From high mountain peaks to beautiful river valleys, single tracks to back country roads, there are opportunities for all ages and skill levels. Cruiser bikes can be rented from the Grand Lake Bike Shop on Grand Avenue for riding about town and mountain bikes can be rented at the RockyHiSpeedway.

Historic Grand Lake, Colorado

First settled in 1876, Grand Lake, Colorado became a supply center in 1879 when gold and silver were discovered nearby on the Colorado River. Prospectors came into the area on their way to Breckenridge and the Blue River by crossing the mountains on what is today Trail Ridge Road. The Kauffman House (1892) is the only remaining log hotel in the area, with furnished rooms and fresh, special exhibits. The 1915 Cottage Camp is thought to be the oldest “motor inn” in the United States and consist of rooms interspersed with covered parking spots for the new motor cars of the time. Grand Lake also offers an historical walking tour and pamphlets can be picked up from the Rapids Lodge front desk. The tour will take you past many of the historical homes and businesses still in use today, and provide you with some insight into their history.

Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

The best of small town theatre! RMRT offers some of the finest productions of old favorites as well as more current shows. The artists are professionals and only a few out of perhaps a 1000 applicants are selected.   For many regular Rapids guests, the theatre is their sole reason to visit Grand Lake and they always make sure to spoil themselves with dinner at the Rapids Restaurant before or after a show. Visit their website to buy season tickets and to see their schedule for special events and productions. Located on Main Street Grand Lake, Colorado, only 3 blocks walking distance from the Rapids Lodge.

Fishing with Bernie 

Get up to date information, hire a guide and more.  No one knows Grand County waters like Bernie. If you want to know what fish are biting, where the most activity is or what gear to use, Bernie is the expert to ask.