Grand Lake History

Grand Lake History

Our area is steeped in fascinating history stretching from the days when Ute, Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians used our famous valley for summer hunting and fishing grounds. Explorers pushed west and traded in skins. Finally Grand Lake was settled with year-round residents in 1867. The discovery of silver, although short lived, brought more people to our area. Finally tourists arrived and hotels were built.

Walking through downtown Grand Lake is like stepping back in time.

The Grand Lake Area Historical Society offers a great walking tour and the self-guided tour pamphlet (50c donation) is available at the Rapids Lodge front desk.

So next time you are in Grand Lake, take a walk and read up about:

  • The Grand Lake Yacht Club (est. 1902)
  • Some of the great old houses for example “The Spider House” which has a rather tragic history.
  • The public square.
  • The Lariat Saloon (est. 1924).
  • The Grand Lake Mercantile general store (early 1900s).
  • The glacial moraine that Grand Avenue intersects.
  • Humphreys Store (Est. 1908).
  • The Smith-Eslick Cottage Court (fine example of an early motel accommodating motor vehicles).
  • The Kauffman House, an early Grand Lake hotel (Est. 1892).

Of course the Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant is on the list (est. 1915) and Laps Ish, who built the Rapids, also had a house just down Rapids Lane dating from 1900. Did you know that the Rapids Lodge was one of the first hotels in the area to have running water, electricity and heat! The Rapids had a water powered generator just upstream from the building in the North Inlet.

The Rapids Restaurant is a great place to enjoy a meal overlooking the Tonahutu Creek and we are in a prime location from which to explore Rocky Mountain National Park in any season. Our low season rates begin early October and run through Mid-June and are hard to beat: just $60 for 2 people and $89 for up to 6 people. Pets are welcome in some units too. We invite you to visit in any season, there is always lots to do and the beauty of the area will astound you.

History Surrounds the Rapids Lodge

Grand Lake has a rich history. The area was occupied by Paleo Indians and Clovis Peoples, then Arapahoe, Sioux and Cheyenne. Fur trappers and mountain men, gold miners all began to change the area. Grand Lake village was established in 1881 and there are exciting tales from those rough frontier days. Tourism to Colorado’s largest natural lake boomed, especially when Rocky Mountain National Park was established.

Grand Lake HistoryThe Grand Lake Area Historical Society works hard to preserve many historical structures, the stories and the memories of the people that have influenced Grand Lake. Their website is fascinating to peruse and a visit to the Kauffman House (historic Grand Lake hotel museum) and Cottage Camp (oldest Motor Inn in the USA located right here in Grand Lake) will be worthwhile.

Join the devoted volunteers for December and January fundraisers and learn about our area.

December 26, 6-9pm: Enjoy an evening in the festively decorated Kauffman House with food, beverages and music! $25 at the door. Benefits the Cottage Camp. No young children please.

Food 1 December 31st 10pm to midnight. Stay warm, tour the Kauffman House, enjoy treats and then step outside for the fireworks that welcome the new year. $5 at the door.

January 30th: Groundhog Gala. 5:30-8pm at the Grand Lake Golf Course Clubhouse. Benefits the Cottage Camp.

History enthusiasts will find all of these events, their website and their museums fascinating. The historical walking tour with pamphlet can be taken at any time of your and will show you all the historical hotspots in town.

Nov 29 2013 Open House sled & wreath on porchStay at the Rapids Lodge which is just one block away from the Kauffman House. We have fantastic Winter Specials in select Historic Lodge Guest Rooms and Rapids Suites: stay for as little as $60 for 2 people and from $89 for up to 6 people! Some of the Rapids suites are pet-friendly too. We strongly suggest you plan for a sumptuous dinner in the Rapids Restaurant. We have our own interesting history along with a few hotel ghosts…