Grand Lake is a town that must be explored outside. Surrounded by amazing forest land, trails and water, you will find yourself in awe of the beauty around you.
Some key destinations
Grand Lake Boardwalk Grand Lake, Colorado was founded in 1881, and the Wild West lives on in the rustic architecture, hitching posts and historic boardwalk on Grand Avenue. There are more than 60 shops, restaurants, galleries and bars on the boardwalk. Take a stroll, and you’ll fall in love with the spirit of the West.
Point Park From Point Park, on the edge of Grand Lake, you get the best view of Mount Craig, also known as Mount Baldy. (There’s also a gorgeous view of this distinctive 12,007-foot peak from the windows of the Grand Lake Visitor Center, which is located at the intersection of West Portal Road and Highway 34.) Owned jointly by the town of Grand Lake and the U.S. Forest Service, Point Park has handicap access for fishing and boating and is a popular site for picnics and weddings.
The Beach at Grand Lake From the sandy beach at Grand Lake, you can swim, fish, kayak, paddle, row or just kick back and watch the people and the waves.
Trail Ridge Road – Grand Lake to Estes Park Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest, continuous paved road in the United States (reaching 12,183 feet), cuts through Rocky Mountain National Park and connects Grand Lake to the town of Estes Park. On the drive, you’ll see some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.
Adams Falls On the east side of Grand Lake, less than a mile from the middle of the village, a short walk brings you to Adams Falls, a beautiful waterfall that feeds into Grand Lake.
Grand Lake Cemetery Located inside Rocky Mountain National Park, off the intersection of Highway 34 and County Road 49, the Grand Lake Cemetery, which has been in use since 1892, is the only active community cemetery located inside a national park.
Colorado River Headwaters The roaring Tonahutu River, which is the headwaters to the mighty Colorado River, is just one of the hundreds of lakes, streams, creeks and waterfalls you can see while you’re in Grand Lake, Colorado or Rocky Mountain National Park.
Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout The Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout is a three-story rustic stone and wood tower that offers 360 degree views of Grand Lake, Arapaho National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park. The hiking trail that reaches it can be accessed from the east side of Shadow Mountain Lake. A 3.3 mile hike (one-way) will bring you to the tower, which was built in 1930 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Farr Pumping Plant Completed in 1951, the Farr Pumping Plant, which is located on the north shore of Lake Granby is the largest trans-mountain diversion project ever built. The plant takes water from Lake Granby, pumps it into Shadow Mountain Lake and then into Grand Lake, via the Granby Pump Canal. From Grand Lake, the water travels to the Eastern slopes of Colorado via Adams Tunnel, eventually reaching the Denver metro area and Front Range.
Cascade Falls The clear waters of Cascade Falls travel for several miles over huge boulders, eventually spilling into Grand Lake. A 3.5 mile hike (one-way) will take you to the heart of the Falls, and along the way, you can look for some of the more than 80 species of wildflowers that dot the region.
Monarch Lake Monarch Lake is located outside the northwestern boundary of the Indian Peaks Wilderness area, only a few miles from Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park. In the early 1900s, Monarch Lake was built to store logs before they were transported to a nearby sawmill via flumes and rivers. Hiking trails loop around the lake, giving you access to virtually all of the pristine shoreline. Monarch Lake is kept at a constant level so that visitors can enjoy non-motorized activities.
Elk Bugling Herds of elk often graze in the meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. During the fall mating season (in September and October), you can hear the unique sounds of elkbugling from afar, the amorous and competitive cries ranging from deep to high-pitched.
Grand Lake Fireworks Grand Lake boasts the largest fireworks display in Colorado on the 4th of July, with gorgeous colors exploding over and reflecting in the lakes. On New Year’s Eve, the spectacle repeats, and if you’ve never seen fireworks mirrored against snowcapped peaks, you’re in for a treat!
Horseback Riding Saddle up and enjoy horseback riding in Grand Lake, Colorado and nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. Many stables in and around Grand Lake offer guided horseback tours of the area. Photo by Bill Swartz
Wildlife Viewings Keep a close watch during your drives or hikes in and around Grand Lake, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. The area is home to elk, moose, big horn sheep, black bears, mule deer, coyotes and dozens of other types of animals. More than 3,000 elk reside in Rocky Mountain National Park during the summer.
Bird Watching Be sure to look overhead when you’re visiting Grand Lake, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park – eagles and hawks are among the 280 species of birds that have been reported in the area.
Photography There’s a potential photograph in almost every moment at Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park…in almost every direction. Rugged peaks, pristine lakes, alpinemeadows, wildlife in their natural habitats, alpenglow streaks and the bluest skies you’ve ever seen represent just a fraction of the stunning scenery.
Fall Foliage If you visit Rocky Mountain National Park, outside of Grand Lake, Colorado, in the fall, as the aspens change, you’ll see explosions of brilliant oranges, yellows, reds and golds. Time your visit right, and you may overlap with the elk rut, which showcases the rowdy sounds and antics of elks mating.
Boating and Sailing on Grand Lake Enjoy sailing on Grand Lake, the deepest natural lake in Colorado. There’s also Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby for your favorite water activities. You can rent a boat – a ski boat, pontoon boat, pleasure boat or fishing boat – or bring your own. Slip and dock rentals, as well as mechanical services are available, and there are public boat launches on all three lakes.
ATV Trails There are more than 100 miles of ATV trails in and around Grand Lake, Colorado, most on old mining and logging roads. ATV tours, rentals and services are available in town.
Bicycling One of the most scenic Road Rides in the Country through Rocky Mountain National Park. Total trip mileage-wise from Grand Lake to Estes Park is 48 miles on-way. If you are interested in Mountain Biking, there are 10 Miles worth of dog-friendly trails by the Grand Lake Golf Course. Enjoy!
Fishing on Grand Lake If fishing is your passion, you’ll find some of the best in Colorado on Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake. Rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, Mackinaw and Kokanee are within reach! There are also hundreds of miles of rivers, streams and creeks nearby, some of which offer “Gold Medal” fishing. Ice Fishing Contests
Snowmobiling Known as the “Snowmobile Capital of Colorado,” Grand Lake consistently ranks in the top 10 for snowmobile destinations in the United States. There are 300 miles of trails, (150 of which are groomed) and hundreds of snowy playgrounds for riders of all abilities. You can legally ride down the streets of Grand Lake, and you can access trails from many of Grand Lake’s lodges, inns, hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts and motels.
Hiking More than 350 miles of trails, branching off from 35 trailheads, are available in Rocky Mountain National Park, and dozens of others begin in and around Grand Lake. The trails range from easy to strenuous, suitable for placid nature walks or adventurous backpacking.
Interpretive Nature Programs Five visitor centers in Rocky Mountain National Park offer interpretive nature programs, detailing the 900 species of flora and fauna, 60 species of mammals and 280 species of birds in the park.