Explore Grand County, Colorado

Never Summer Wilderness accessible from Winter Park-Fraser and Arapaho Bay
Never Summer Wilderness accessible from Winter Park-Fraser and Arapaho Bay

Grand County is the home of the Colorado River headwaters and its scenery is really quite grand. A visitor can spend quite a few days exploring the area. Start at the West Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park after traversing Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park. Grand Lake is a historic Western town with a lot to offer.

The Historic Rapids Lodge was established in 1915, about the same time as Rocky. The Rapids’ scenic location on the banks of the Tonahutu River is spectacular and allows guests to walk into town and to Grand Lake itself, the largest natural lake in Colorado. Accommodations vary from cute cabins to romantic Lodge Guest Rooms and riverfront condos that sleep up to 8 people. Some are pet-friendly! Recreation opportunities in this stunning little town are endless no matter the season. 

US34 South leads to the Arapaho National Forest with snowmobile and ATV trails. In Summer, drive Stillwater Pass to enjoy the vistas and wildlife. Take in Shadow Mountain Reservoir, Lake Granby and Willow Creek Reservoir. If you drive to Arapaho Bay, Monarch Lake with dog-friendly trails awaits at the end of the scenic shoreline road. Explore in any season, there is so much to.

US40 West will take you through mesmerizing scenery along the Colorado River to Hot Sulphur Springs where you can soak in 21 outdoor pools under sun, snow or stars. Ute Indians historically used the springs. Stretches of the Colorado are Gold Medal Waters for fly fishing and Rocky Mountain Outfitters can help you get your prize fish. Don’t miss out on the Hot Sulphur Museum or the famous Candy Store! Kremmling offers unique scenery including some barren, arid, eroded cliffs that are breathtaking in the light of the setting sun.

US40 East gives you the opportunity to explore Granby, enjoy downhill skiing at Granby Ranch or a game of golf. Try hot air ballooning summer or winter with incredible views of the Continental Divide. For youngsters, Granby’s Escape Room will provide exciting entertainment. Next up is Tabernash, a really small town of about 40 residents. Tabernash is an alternative access point to Arapaho National Forest and Never Summer Wilderness areas with great hiking trails and opportunities for winter exploration too.

The Town of Fraser is just before the ski town of Winter Park and is the oldest incorporated town in the lower 48 and offers great shopping and dining! Fraser is surging ahead of its time, moving towards becoming a green city with recycling, energy and design advancements. The Tubing Hills here are fast and fun. The area has so much more to do than just downhill skiing. The Ski Area is open in summer too, there are back country forestry roads to explore, great museums and fascinating history, dog sled rides, ice skating, mountain biking and more.

When you are down this end of Grand County, VisitWinterPark.com will provide you with a wide variety of reasonably priced lodging options in Winter Park, Fraser, Tabernash and surrounds. Whether you are looking for a cozy one bedroom or a luxury upscale mountain home, VisitWinterPark.com will provide you with the perfect place to stay. Their motto” A happy guest is the only guest you need to have” says it all.

The South-East part of Grand County is very different from Grand Lake and offers new experiences for any traveler. Don’t just drive through Grand County, stay, explore and play!

3 Lakes Ice-Fishing Tournament 2019

Looking for a fun or new experience this month? Look no further! You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be ready to have fun! January 25-27 is the 31st Annual 3 Lakes Ice-Fishing Tournament and the Rapids Lodge is the perfect place to stay. We have small rooms just for one or bring your friends and family and stay in one of our Rapids Suites (some dog-friendly) that sleep 6-7 people; or River View Condo that sleeps 4-8 people.

Prize Packages are awesome and details are posted on the Granby Chamber of Commerce website. You can also sign up there! The first 500 entrants will receive a hat as a reminder of this great experience! Under 17’s   that pay to enter are eligible for cash prizes! If the cash prize isn’t a big deal, a 17 and under entrant is free. Contests begin at 6:40 am each day.

Ice fishing Lake Granby

Grand County is quite stunning and the views from frozen Lake Granby will astound you. There is always some shopping, sledding, ice-skating and more to keep folks who don’t fish, entertained.

This is one of the best Ice-Fishing tournaments in Colorado. Don’t miss it!

Grand Lake, Colorado, has great snow!

What a spectacular November of snow, snow and more snow! Temperatures have also remained low, so the snow is not melting away. Folks are coming from all over, including Minnesota to head out on the snowmobile trails and enjoy our local winter sports..

Grand Lake Colorado

The snowmobile trail from town to the groomed trail system is OPEN. Visit the Grand Lake Trailgroomers website for up to date details. Conditions up high are spectacular and will provide an excellent base to keep us going through the winter. Snowpack is currently at about 118% of normal for this time of year.

All three lakes are beginning to freeze! Please be careful on the new ice! Make sure its solid enough to hold you.

GRAND LAKE NORDIC CENTER is OPEN for the SEASON! DAILY 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Season Passes are Now On Sale. A whole winter of fun awaits!

If you are interested in Ice-Fishing, read the “Fishing with Bernie” blog for the latest conditions. Fishing guides are available in Grand County to take you out and provide you with a great experience.

Don’t forget sleigh rides, soaking in the Hot Sulphur Springs outdoor pools, downhill skiing at Granby Ranch Ski Area / Winter Park Ski Area, Rocky Mountain National Park trails and wildlife watching. There is so much to do!

Business owners in Grand Lake have outdone themselves with Holiday Lights and the town is looking just beautiful. So if you are looking for a weekend getaway, come on up! This holiday season is going to be a special one, very white and glittery. We have accommodation over Christmas available!

The Rapids Restaurant – Grand County’s Most Romantic Dining Experience

Every year our Local newspaper, the Sky-Hi News, runs a competition that local businesses are keen to win! The public votes on any business in categories like Community, Fitness and Outdoors, Food and Drink, Music and Entertainment, Services and Shopping. 

The Rapids Restaurant has claimed the title of “Best Place for a Romantic Date” once again! A big thank to all our patrons for your continued support and enthusiasm.

The Rapids Restaurant is unique in its location along the Tonahutu River. No matter what the season, the view is always beautiful, and sometimes decorated with a fox or moose! The river is floodlit at night and so even late diners can enjoy the water tumbling over rocks. Remember to get a photo in front of our grand main fireplace with a mantel that is decorated seasonally.

Our ambiance is unparalleled in Grand County with the warmth and detail of Victorian Decor in a 1915 historic lodge, and two cozy fireplaces. Truly delicious, high quality food and an extensive wine list make for a memorable meal. 

Any special occasion warrants visit to the Rapids Restaurant – birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, business dinners, rehearsals and weddings. Our guests come back year after year to mark each landmark event in their lives. 

Perhaps its your turn to start a tradition!

Rapids wins "Best Of" 2018
Rapids wins “Best Of” 2018

Grand Lake Night Sky and Stargazing

For many of you who live in cities or on the East Coast, our starry nights can be astonishing! Any time of the year can offer a good show on a clear night without the light pollution of urban areas. Drive into Rocky Mountain National Park and the intense dark will show you more stars than you ever imagined. RMNP offers Night Sky programs. Keep an eye out for their 2019 calendar. Dry, cold air in Fall and Winter is perfect for stargazing.

“Night sky over Granby” by local photographer Bob Fergeson, Nostalgiawest

Every year there are celestial events to watch, from meteor showers to the alignment of planets. On October 8th this year, we have the Draconids Meteor Shower. It will be a moonless night and offer about 10 meteors an hour. October 21-22 brings the Orionids, about 20 meteors per hour and then on October 23rd, Uranus is at its closest to earth and will be fully illuminated.

Visit SeaSky.org for a month by month list of celestial activity. Perhaps your next vacation to the Rapids Lodge will center around the astronomical calendar.

Standing outside, watching the stars will create special memories. The cool or cold air and the sounds of a Rocky Mountain night can be magical. Perhaps you will hear the hoot of an owl, a pack of wild coyotes howling at the sky, the huffing of a Moose in rut, the bugling of an Elk or the call of a bear cub as it follows Mom. Foxes can be recognized by a sharp bark. In Summer, you might even feel the breeze from the wings of a bat as it swoops past.

Grand Lake has so much to offer, no matter the season.

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

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.

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.

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!