Interview with Tom Jochems 2019

Owner of the Rapids Lodge and Restaurant 1969 to 1976

In October, a previous owner of the Rapids Lodge, Tom Jochems, spent some time with us and enjoyed lunch out by the river. Tom owned the Rapids from 1969 to 1976 with partners Steve Shryock and silent partner Rob Carmichael (also owned the Pine Cone Inn – now Pancho and Lefty’s). 

Max Ludwig, current owner at left. Tom Jochums at right.

Tom and his partners served two menu items in the Rapids Restaurant: Crab Legs (+/- $7.00) and T-bones (+/- $6.00). Folks came from all around and they did a roaring business! The biggest draw to the Rapids besides the scenic location along the river, was the restaurant and entertainment. Live music and dancing on the wood floor was a highlight. The Rapids hosted a lot of weddings as we do today. Tom was a “jack of all trades”, doing all the jobs necessary to operate a restaurant and lodge whether it was cooking, cleaning, dishwashing, waiting tables … you name it. During those years finding staff for the Rapids was not a problem because all staff were housed at the Rapids and housing with a job is a great attractant, just like it is today. The employees mostly loved the entertainment!

Tom remembers that Bob Lind played here. He had one great hit called “The Elusive Butterfly of Love” which he performed at the Rapids. Rita Coolidge visited the Rapids and maybe sang a few songs as a guest. Rita was married to Kris Kristofferson, who was friends with the local Garber family and came to visit them. Kris is rumored to have played at the Rapids on occasion. Richie Havens, who played at Woodstock, also entertained guests. One favorite celebrity was bartender John Larroquette of Night Court fame, who regaled guests with great tales and made them laugh (also worked at the Pine Cone Inn). Guests just sat at the bar and ordered drink after drink listening to John. He was great for business!

In Tom’s day, the very trees that stand outside the Rapids now, were already gracing the Tonahutu River bank. The interior was a little different though. The stairs from the Lodge Guest Rooms descended on both sides of the door. There was a piano. Tom remembers that the “back dining room” or “Tonahutu Room” as we call it today, was a screened in porch. The bar was actually along the North edge of the main dining room platform perpendicular to the river and then extended toward where the current bar is now in an L shape.  Tom built the bar back which consists of ornate wood carvings by local Mike Matthews and stained glass supposedly made with real Cobalt (CO, atomic number 27) that came from a mansion in Chicago. Cobalt-based blue pigments have been used in jewelry, glass and paints for centuries. We are not sure where the mountain scene of stained glass came from but was likely acquired by owners Lou and Kathy Nigro in the 80’s when they turned the screened in porch into an additional dining room. The doors to the wine cellar (or liquor closet) at the wait station came from the Malo Mansion on Grand Lake which burned down in 1963. Read more here at the Grand Lake Area Historical Society website. Today, all that can be seen of the Malo residence is the old chimney and fireplace on the north shore of Grand Lake. The beer cooler behind the bar is original, predating Tom’s ownership. The fireplaces are still the same although they were wood burning back then!

Most of you haven’t seen inside the kitchen and it is in many ways the same. The beautiful wood “reach-in” cooler is original but now in a different location in kitchen. The walk-in cooler is the same one that Tom used as well. Some of the kitchen shelves had sliding wood doors back in Tom’s day. The doors are no longer there, but the door guides are!

It was particularly interesting to tour the Lodge Guest Rooms on the second and third floors. Tom lived in what is now Lodge Guest Room 7 “Garden Room” but his bathroom was the bathroom that is now Lodge Guest Room 1’s bathroom (Tonahutu Room). All the rooms were about the size of the small Lodge Guest Rooms 2 and 3. This means that Lodge Guest Rooms 1, 4 and 5 were a total of 6 small rooms back in the day (contributing to a total of maybe 10 rooms on the second floor). Lodge Guest Room 4’s bathroom was a shared women’s bathroom and Lodge Guest Room 5’s bathroom was a shared men’s bathroom. The entry to Lodge Guest Room 6 (the whole 3rd floor) was only from what is the exterior fire escape at the North end of the building. The current entrance from inside the lodge second floor hallway was not there in Tom’s time. Each dormer on the third floor was a small guest room (a total of 6). The breakfast nook area was not there in Tom’s day. No windows on the third floor faced the river! Even today, it is only the breakfast nook area window that does face the river. There were no TV’s and no telephones.

The Rapids parking lot at that time was partly taken up by a large above ground pool. The three cabins lined the south side and four cabins lined the north side (where the Rapids Suites Building is now located). The pool was aging at that time and had a few cracks demanding constant topping up. One night, an employee managed to turn the water heat up to a point where he and his girlfriend could enjoy a night swim with steam coming off the water. Tom and his partners decided then that the pool would have to go. 

Tom and his partners made a major improvement in the form of bringing “winter water” from the town to the Rapids. This involved digging up Rapids Lane for an 8 foot deep trench. During this process they discovered the old water channel that in the early days of Grand Lake, ferried water from the Tonahutu River, under the now south corner of the River View Condos and through the parking lot at an angle towards the cabin closest to the main entrance to the Rapids. The aqueduct was about 3 feet wide, V shaped and lined with thick two inch pieces of wood. The last remaining visible portion of the trench is now located by the Smith Eslick Cottage and the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. See a photo of Grand Ave showing the water ditch in the 1930’s here.

The Rapids Lodge was strictly a summer business before Tom and his partners brought in winter water. Their summer season ran from June 1st to the end of September. Then the water was shut off and the Rapids lay quiet all winter.

The Rapids Condos and River View Condos had not yet been built when Tom was at the Rapids so the Rapids Property was extensive along the river. There was a lawn where the current restaurant patio is, that was mowed and swept, but the rest was wild. Elk and deer were often seen on the property. Moose were not seen at the Rapids in those days because there weren’t any! Twelve Moose were reintroduced to North Park in 1978 and so were not seen at the Rapids for a long time until their numbers increased and they made their way over the Never Summer Mountain Range and into Middle Park.

Grand Lake was a different town back then. It was still very much a little bit of the Wild West. It was a very friendly and fun place. Horses were commonly ridden into town by the local cowboys and every bar had a hitching post. The Lariat Saloon still has theirs! Tom remembers a horse or two inside a bar on occasion! “Western Days” back then offered street gun fights and more. Everybody dressed up in Western clothes and got into the spirit of the event, now the Buffalo Barbecue Weekend. Other fun events in town included the “Sunrise Slalom” which began with Spring skiing races on top of Trail Ridge Road and ending with water skiing on Grand Lake right after the ice broke up (no wet suits). They would also have water skiing shows, where the girls would stand on each other’s shoulders in acrobatic style. Male skiers also performed. The local traffic cops would mostly just give you a ride home if they thought you needed one after visiting a few bars and there was a 3.2 bar called “The Fog Horn”, most recently known as “Grumpy’s Saloon” and currently “White Buffalo Pizza”. Grand Lake was also a visited by “The Brothers Fast”, a biker group that enjoyed the dining and entertainment at the Rapids. They were always respectful and fun.

Tom hails from Wichita, Kansas and pretty much grew up visiting Grand Lake for 6 weeks in the summer. When he was 26, he decided to live in Grand Lake, buy the Rapids with his partners, and work and ski in Winter Park in the winter.

Winter Attractions in Grand Lake Colorado

Winter in Grand Lake, Colorado

Looking for the perfect spot for your winter vacation or quick getaway? Grand Lake, Colorado is a magical and memorable experience. Lots of fresh, fluffy snow, amazing lights and so much to do.

Depending on the year, winter can start in November, sometimes early December. We have known Novembers where the groomed snowmobiling trails are open and piled with snow. This year may be one of them because of the great snow we received beginning in October. Grand Lake offers four months of pure winter pleasure.

Where to stay for the holidays in Colorado? Well, with us of course. Book early. Enjoy our little Western town’s sparkling lights, Christmas Trees and more. Nothing beats a white Christmas and the Rapids Restaurant is open on Christmas Eve. Book a room with a full kitchen at the Rapids and enjoy your holiday meal with your family. The Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre puts on a holiday show and of course you have to ring in the new year with the Grand Lake fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve! The best viewing spot is just 2 very short blocks from the Rapids. Enjoy our fabulous New Year’s Eve dinner and then saunter down the road for one of the best fireworks shows you will ever see.

Do you have a love of the great outdoors? Ice-Fishing is at its best on our three lakes and Rocky Mountain Outfitters will get you lined up with equipment, a guide, and gear. Try something new – you might just get hooked! The Annual Grand Lake Catch and Release Contest is one of them and has a $1,000 prize! Check out the Three Lakes Ice Fishing Contest too. 

 Grand Lake is known as “The Snowmobile Capital of the USA” with 70+ miles of groomed snowmobile trails, exciting terrain and deeply snow-covered meadows. On the Trail Rentals at Winding River Resort or Grand Adventures in town has the sled you need. Double rider sleds are available. Plan an epic adventure and ride from Grand Lake in Grand County to Gould in Routt County. Traverse the Continental Divide. If you bring your own sleds, ride right from your room at the Rapids, through town and onto the trails. 

Not into motorized winter sports? Take a sleigh ride at Winding River Resort, something everyone should experience snuggled under a soft blanket. It is so quiet and peaceful gliding through the trees.

Got kids? Family activities in Grand Lake include our annual, fun-filled Winter Carnival. Bed-sled races, human bowling, teapot curling and more. Pull your little one on a sled in the sled pull races or build a snowman for the competition! Locals participate in a snow sculpture competition. Join in and sign up. To top it off, there is a parade and fireworks! There is a free sledding hill just off the main street. The “Quackers” rubber ducky and fudge store is a must to visit with the family. Everyone can take home a memento.

Did you know there is a free ice-skating rink in Grand Lake? Visit the Grand Lake Community Center and check out some free skates. They even have a gym if you want to work out.

Want a change of scenery …. head down to Granby and go downhill skiing for day at Granby Ranch. The runs are just right and it is not too crowded so you and the kids can ski versus mostly stand in line! Affordable ski lessons are available. Night skiing at Granby Ranch is a fun adventure that will make for some great memories. Go a little farther afield and visit Winter Park for dog sled rides or tubing (day and night). Tubing is some of the best fun you can have and when you head home, soak away the cold at Hot Sulphur Springs. Sit under the stars in the steaming pools or watch the snowflakes fall softly around you. Stargazing in Grand County is absolutely fantastic on the cold, clear nights of winter. If you get up early, you can take a breathtaking trip in a Hot Air Balloon and float above the snowy landscape. 

Grand Lake Nordic Center offers a tubing hill just up the road from the Rapids Lodge, cross country ski and snowshoe lessons and equipment rentals, miles of groomed trails and if you are in one of the dog-friendly rooms at the Rapids, take your dog on the pet-friendly loop! Never Summer Mountain products also have winter sports equipment for sale and for rent. If you have forgotten your boots or mittens, this is the place to get them. The Harbison Loop, Coyote River Trail and Holzwarth Ranch trails in Rocky Mountain are easy and fun for the whole family on snowshoes or skis. The Kawuneechee Visitor Center offers guided trails on weekends throughout the winter. The Center is worth a visit for the displays and the short film introducing Rocky. For skilled skiers and snowshoers, there are plenty of challenging trails. Cross country skiing on the frozen lake ice is a blast and a great way to explore the historic homes along the Grand Lakeshore. Check with the locals to find out ice conditions and open water risks.

Well, by now, you should be convinced that Grand Lake in Colorado is the perfect place for winter family fun. Book at the Rapids Lodge today. We have great rates in the winter. Always book direct for the best price. Find us on and, but book with us online or by phone. We are always happy to chat so give us a call.

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, 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, 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 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.