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!

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.

Spring in the Rockies

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Spring starts late in the higher elevations of the Rockies. May is when it all begins: the last of the lake ice melts, grass is green and flowers brighten the landscape. Aspen trees bud out and animal babies arrive. If you are thinking of a spring trip to the Colorado mountains, there is plenty to do!

The Rapids Lodge has low season rates in effect until June 9th, 2016 and this means that you can stay as low as $60 for 2 people and $89 for up to 6 people. Some accommodations are pet-friendly too.

  • Hike Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Watch the baby elk in the meadows at dawn and dusk.
  • Keep an eye out for foxes, coyotes, moose, porcupines, deer, marmots, pine martens and weasels. Of course squirrels and cute chipmunks are everywhere!
  • Enjoy lunch Riverside at the Rapids.
  • Take a canoe, pontoon or fishing boat out on any of the three lakes
  • Kids get to have fun at Rocky Mountain Speedway and the min-golf at the hardware store.
  • Play the Grand Lake Gold Course.
  • Fly fish the Colorado River
  • Soak at Hot Sulphur Springs
  • Float up above the valley in a hot air balloon
  • Rent an ATV or bring your own.
  • Grill out at Point Park and enjoy a breathtaking view of Grand Lake and Mount Baldy.
  • Test your Bingo skills in town on the weekend.
  • Attend a Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre performance after dinner at The Rapids
  • Restaurant.
  • Birdwatch mountain, meadow and lake environments.
  • Revel in the rivers rushing by full of spring snowmelt
  • Drive Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park – the highest continuous highway in the United States.
  • There is never a dull moment in Grand Lake Colorado!

MAY

Mother’s Day at the Rapids Lodge and Restaurant!
Sunday May 8th, 2016

History Chat: Early Days of Grand County EMS with Ida Sheriff and Tim Nicklas.
Learn about the needs and history of Emergency Management in Grand County. Meet the first certified EMT in Grand County, Mrs. Ida Sheriff.
6-8pm
Tuesday May 17, 2016

Juniper Library Progressive Dinner
Wednesday May 25, 2016

“Around Granby” History Book Signing
11am -2pm
The area around Granby was developed in the late 1800s and today remain
Friday and Saturday May 27 + 28, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend
May 27+28+29+30
Stay at the Rapids Lodge!

Grand Lake Memorial Day Parade
Monday May 30, 2016

Bingo in Town Park with the Rotary Club of Grand Lake
Saturday and Sunday May 28 + 29, 2016

JUNE

Grand Lake Golf Tournament
9am – 2pm. 970-627-8008
Saturday June 11, 2016

Birds of the Kawuneechee
All day birding excursion. 970-586-3262
Saturday June 11, 2016

Art and Crafts Fair
Saturday Jun 11, 2016 – Sunday Jun 12, 2016

BINGO Every Friday and Saturday 7pm

Ride the Rockies
Wednesday June 15 and Thursday June 16, 2016

2nd Annual Duck Derby
Race your rubber duck! Fundraiser.
Saturday June 18, 2016

Hummingbird Research
Learn about the hummingbird populations in the Rockies while observing field ornithologists as they safely capture and band these remarkable birds. 970-586-3262
Monday June 20, 2016

Secret Places is RMNP – Colorado River
970-586-3262
Friday June 24, 2016

Songwriters in the Round
with Nashville songwriters, Monty Powell, Anna Wilson and Peggy Mann.
Friday June 24th

33rd Annual State of Colorado CASI Chili Cook Off 2016
303-831-5061
Saturday Jun 25, 2016

Painting the Kawuneeche: Beginners Class
970-586-3262
Saturday Jun 25, 2016 – Sunday Jun 26, 2016

Diversity in Wildflowers
970-586-3262
Thursday June 30, 2016

Grand Lake Memorial Day Parade

The three day Memorial Day Weekend is the precursor to summer fun! The great outdoors is waiting for you in a small town called Grand Lake, Colorado. This gateway town of the Rocky Mountain National Park is perfect for families and is the quieter side of the park. Just one main street with one stop sign! Step back in time and enjoy the ambiance of an authentic western town bordered by 3 lakes and astounding scenery.

The Rapids Lodge has rooms starting from just $89 per night for up to 6 people. These one bedroom suites offer a comfortable living area and a full kitchen. Different bedding configurations allow you to make the perfect choice for your family. If you have some four legged family members, bring them along too! Rapids Suites 1 through 4 are pet friendly. There are some great deals for couples too.

Memorial Day Parade

Grand Lake will be open for business and Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park will be open too. Don’t miss seeing the towering snowbanks the park employees have cut through at 12,000 feet! Wildlife will be active and visible. Take a boat out on a lake or walk a trail to Adam’s Falls. Enjoy lunch by the river at the Rapids Lodge or shop in town to your heart’s content.

Grand Lake Memorial Day parade The Grand Lake Memorial Day Parade & Ceremony is always a weekend highlight for the whole family. Starting at 10am on Monday May 30th, our townsfolk and visitors join in the fun. See horses and floats, fire trucks and more. 2016 Memorial Day Parade Registration. After the parade, head to the town park for the ceremony and live music.

The Rocky Mountains in May…and Mother’s Day

Great low season rates through June 9th! Stay as low as $60 for 2 people and as low as $89 for up to 65 people. BOOK NOW. The Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant is the perfect place to treat your Mom for Mother’s Day whether for a scrumptious dinner at the Rapids Restaurant or a relaxing getaway for a day or two. Don’t forget to treat her to flowers from “The Stalk Market” and an indulgent massage from Sarah Chabot or Sage!

Mother's Day Dinner

 

The Rapids Lodge is gearing up for spring and summer! Grand County, Colorado received excellent snow in March so the ground is well saturated and ready to burst forth with spring flowers. Wildlife watching is prime at this time of the year as animals are easily spotted against the backdrop of remaining snow. The grazers congregate in the lower reaches of Rocky Mountain National Park where melting snow has exposed tasty morsels and the predators follow. Expect to see Moose, Elk, Mule Deer, Coyotes and Red Foxes. You might even spot a hungry Black Bear or a rarely seen Lynx! Although Trail Ridge Road probably won’t open until Memorial Day Weekend, there are still 8 miles of the road entering Rocky Mountain National Park, plenty of trails and grand views.

Mother's Day

 

Early May is still relatively quiet meaning you have the option for solitude. The Town of Grand Lake will be open and getting ready for Memorial Day guests right from the beginning of the month. Although our three lakes, Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Granby, have thawed as late as middle of May, we expect the thaw earlier this year due to the warmer winter temperatures. This means you can enjoy the open water in your kayak, canoe, motor boat or pontoon very early in the season. Due to the “Big Thompson Pumping Project”, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake remain brimful year round. Bring your fishing gear!

So join us for a refreshing start to the 2016 summer season. Soak in Hot Sulphur Springs, take in the view from the Grand Lake Lodge, breath in the sweet clean air and enjoy all that Grand Lake, Colorado has to offer!

Start thinking Summer in Grand Lake

We are in the home stretch of winter and already planning for our summer season! February was unexpectedly warm in Colorado with days in the 60’s and 70’s in Denver and 40’s and 50’s in Grand Lake. Unfortunately this meant a February “mud-season” for a little bit and the snow compacted substantially. Of course when the sun is out and a warm breeze is blowing, how can one not be happy! Hopefully March and perhaps April will bring us some good storms to bolster the snowpack for the summer lake levels, wild flowers and no firebans!

Even if we don’t get too much snow, all the winter sports will still be available: Grand Lake Nordic Center and Rocky Mountain National Park for cross country and snowshoeing, ice-fishing on the three lakes, wildlife and bird watching, snowmobiling and more. March is often a big snow month especially after a dry spell, so don’t be surprised if we get a lot more of the white stuff for you to play in!

Now is the time to start planning your summer family vacation, reunion, rehearsal dinner, wedding reception or other celebrations. Some weekends are already getting quite booked!

Grand Lake Hotel - Rapids Suite 7

Rapids Suite 7: Lynne has been busy again so keep your eye out for some subtle changes coming soon in the Rapids Suite Building!

BOOK A ROOM ONLINE AT THE RAPIDS

Review Our Restaurant and Bar Menus

March Hours
 
Open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday andSaturday!
Also open on Easter Sunday March 27th at 4pm.

Hotel 
9am to 5pm daily

CLOSED FOR “MUD-SEASON” SPRING BREAK
The Rapids Lodge will be closed from Sunday, March 27, 2016 to Sunday, May 1, 2016.
  • The Front Desk will be open every week during the closed period on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.
  • We will be standing by to answer your e-mails and questions, assist you with your planning and make your hotel/restaurant reservations.
  • The on-line booking system will be available 24 hours a day!
We open for the summer season on Monday May 2, 2016
We look forward to serving you and your family! 
Sincerely,
Tom and Lynne Ludwig
Max, Tatyana and Natalia Ludwig

Things to do for Easter ……

Easter comes early this year and the Rapids Restaurant will be open for Easter Sunday dinner on March 27, 2016! Lodging will be open through the night of the 26th of March (we will take our spring break March 27th through May 1st as we prepare for a busy summer season beginning May 2nd).

Easter Grand Lake Easter and spring break are great opportunities to get the family away together and enjoy the great outdoors during the tail end of winter. Bring a group of friends and your four-legged family member along too. Our pet-friendly rooms are spacious and comfortable and sleep up to 6 people for just $89 per night on our “winter special offer”.

Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about Grand Lake weather. February has been a little warmer than usual and snowfalls of 1-3 inches periodically have kept things fresh. The snowpack is still above average in our basin for this time of year. This means there is still a great base of compacted snow on hiking and snowmobile trails. As soon as you get a little higher in elevation, there is still an amazing amount of snow to play in. If anything, compacted trails mean you can go faster and further on snowshoe trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, with much less effort than feet of fresh powder would demand.

12308127_10153724700012552_6964529756002343896_oSo what else is there to keep you busy? Try ice-fishing (check out Fish Explorer for some great information). Rocky Mountain Outfitters will rent you ice fishing gear and get you set for success. Snowmobiling in the high country is a great experience with unbelievable views from the 100 or so miles of groomed trails which are easy to negotiate for any skill level. The Grand Lake Nordic Center will provide you with snow shoes or cross country skis and teach you how to get around the trail system. Rocky Mountain National Park trails are a real adventure but stay aware that you might bump into a moose anywhere, even in town! Try winter hot air ballooning or dog sled racing followed up by a relaxing soak in the hot pools of Hot Sulphur Springs.

Grand Lake is a true western town with history and character, old buildings and a historical walking tour. It is easy to envision the old days of the Old West as you walk the streets shopping. Just one stop sign in town and everything is in walking distance. Although the Grand Lake Lodge is closed, there is still plenty to see. The Rapids Lodge and Restaurant really is the “hidden gem of Grand Lake”. The historic lodge building was established in 1915 and offers an astonishingly cozy interior with 2 fireplaces, comfy couches and a view over the frozen Tonahutu River. The food is simply delicious, the wine list is extensive. The Lodge Guest Rooms upstairs are all quaintly different and inviting, sleeping 2 to 6 adults. We have two of these rooms on a “Winter Special Offer” of just $60 per night. Book them soon – at that great rate, they disappear fast.

So when you are searching for Grand Lake CO Lodging options, think of us.

Valentine’s Day in Grand Lake

Make your Valentine’s Day plans well ahead of time this year. Accommodation in Grand Lake will be booking up earlier than usual if trends are to be believed. Grand County hotels are always humming with activity over this long, 3 day weekend in February. Monday February 15th is President’s Day, a public holiday, so you can take advantage of the holiday and extend a great weekend getaway.

Although the Rapids Restaurant usually serves dinner Wednesday through Saturday in the winter, we will definitely be serving dinner to you and your sweetheart on Sunday, February 14th. The Rapids Restaurant is regularly voted as the “most romantic dining experience” by Grand County locals.

Valentine’s Day in Grand LakeOur fantastic “Winter Special Offer” reduced room rates are valid all through the holiday weekend. Some of the Rapids Suites are pet-friendly if you have another sweetheart or two you would like to bring along. Or perhaps you would enjoy a real wood burning fireplace in Rapids Condo 1B or a gas fireplace in one of the River View Condos.

Take your loved one for a relaxing soak at Hot Sulphur Springs in one of their 21 outdoor pools, or try them all. Whether you relax under the stars or amidst snowflakes, it is a great winter experience. Rent a snowmobile for two and ride the 100 or so miles of groomed trails, enjoying breathtaking scenery and a picnic lunch. Perhaps you would like to borrow ice skates and take a twirl on the ice rink in the park or experience ice-fishing for the first time (contact Rocky Mountain Outfitters). The Grand Lake Nordic Center also offers a two for one pass on Valentine’s Day for a romantic cross country ski or snowshoe.

Nothing beats a refreshing Valentine’s Day getaway in Grand Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park and the stunning Grand County winter playground.

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

 

Arapahoe National Forest …

Even if you are not a big fan of snowmobiling, off road motorcycles and ATVs, exploring the Arapahoe National Forest is still worthwhile! In the winter roads and trail provide almost 100 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and in the summer the same accesses are used for horses, off road vehicles and even regular cars!Access the Arapahoe National Forest from highway 34 and follow County Road 4 West. At the Idelglenn staging area, you have a choice.

To the right (North), the road will take you up North Supply. The views back over Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain and into the Rocky Mountain National Park are strikingly beautiful. A regular sedan can go most of the way and a four wheel drive vehicle will take you further.

Hiking Grand Lake Colorado The Bowen Gulch Interpretive Trail is located approximately 9.1 miles from the fork and is a mile long trail leading through one of Colorado’s largest Spruce-Fir old growth forests. A Sedan can reach 7.6 miles followed by a scenic walk along the 4×4 road to the trail head. If you are in a high clearance vehicle you can reach the trail head easily. Moose are common among the fir and spruce trees and although the trees are large but not massive, the forest is exquisite in its untouched state (part of the Never Summer Wilderness). From 1988 to 1990 the area was designated for a logging sale but public outcry stopped the process and preserved it forever. Pick up the interpretive trail guide at the USFS office in Granby.

If you want to climb a peak with a good head start in elevation, try Cascade Mountain from a little further up the road at Blue Ridge. The views are breathtaking along the 11 mile trail.

For those of you who prefer a scenic drive, consider traveling over Stillwater Pass. This loop will take you from the Idleglenn parking area, over the ridge of mountains to CO 125. Follow 125 south to US 40 and head East to Granby. Return to Grand Lake by heading North on US 34. The road offers excellent views and wildlife viewing. Travel through dense lodge-pole forest, spruce-fir forest, glades of towering aspen, areas of sage and valley bottoms filled with willows, beavers and moose. The entire loop is accessible by sedan car (a few rough spots) and is a very well worthwhile trip. Don’t miss out on the 2 mile round trip Lost Lake Trail on the East side!

The Rapids Lodge is the perfect base from which to explore the area. The Arapahoe National Forest is pet-friendly as are some of our cabins and Rapids Suites, so bring your family four-legged member along! When not exploring, relax riverside with a delicious lunch or dinner at the Rapids Restaurant.