Start your voyage in Winter Park with a chairlift ride to 10,700 feet above sea level. Once the snow melts, Colorado’s longest continually operated ski resort becomes a summer playground, and the 10-passenger gondola takes visitors to mountaintop views and bike rides in just a few minutes.
Downhill bikers flock to the resort for its ramps, jumps and top-to-bottom terrain, while the alpine slide sends summer sledders down the mountain on more than 3,000 feet of bobsled-like track. There’s also a climbing wall, mini-golf and an events calendar full of music and beer festivals and kid-friendly outdoor movie nights.
The town of Winter Park also bustles year-round — don’t miss free summertime concerts at Hideaway Park downtown. Or book a guided rock-climbing excursion with Winter Park Adventure Quest in Fraser, an aerial adventure park with 24 challenge elements. Meanwhile, Snow Mountain Ranch has a grin-inducing summer tubing hill and other family activities.
Hop on the 10-mile Fraser River Trail by foot, bike or cross-country ski. Picnic tables, educational signs, peaceful vistas and the possibility to spot wildlife are all served up. The trail ends at Headwaters River Journey, where exhibits explore the wonders of conservation and preservation. Just off the trail, explore Cozens Ranch Open Space, a hotbed of hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing.
In the afternoon, go north to the laid-back county seat of Grand Lake, where hints of the village’s Western character are revealed in its historic boardwalks and hitching posts alongside the parking spots. As Colorado’s deepest and largest natural lake, Grand Lake attracts summer fun-seekers looking to kayaki, paddleboard, fish or relax on the beach. Rent a boat, look up for eagles and down for trout.
This area is the western entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and one of the state’s most popular for viewing moose and other wildlife. Pedal along a new 2-mile stretch of the East Shore Trail, the first-ever route in the national park open to mountain bikers.
Links lovers can tee off amid inspiring scenery (and watch their balls fly farther through our thin air) at four mountain golf courses. The Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District also has several miles of dog-friendly hiking trails that weave through lush wetlands, pine forests and aspen groves. Cap your evening with a Broadway musical at Grand Lake’s Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre.
As the Colorado River carves its way from the Continental Divide on its journey to the Pacific Ocean, it treats Grand County visitors to some of the best rafting and Gold Medal fishing around. Jagged red canyons and green valleys provide stunning backdrops for mellow floats; outfitters can be found throughout the county.
The sleepy mountain town of Granby offers Western hospitality, an idyllic main street of restaurants and antique shops, and easy access to outdoor pursuits, including boating and fishing on Lake Granby. Two Pines Supply can outfit you for any adventure in the area. Later, everyone can agree on dinner at the new Granby Garage Roadhouse for upscale patio dining with amazing views.
Expect nothing but the best at Grand County’s many dude ranches, including Colorado’s oldest continuously operating ranch: Bar Lazy J in Parshall. Proprietors roll out the country hospitality to those seeking an authentic Old West experience, offering activities like horseback riding, hiking and square dancing, and not-so-cowboy tennis, yoga and volleyball. Some even have luxurious spas, miles of trails and fishing.
Choose one of the county’s other three towns for your last day — or choose to stay a spell longer!
A sportsman’s paradise, Kremmling has some of the state’s finest fishing waters and elk-hunting grounds, as well as miles of ATV and OHV trails. Head to Rusty Spurr Ranch for trail rides and cattle drives; hike to Radium Hot Springs on the Colorado River; and journey to the top of Kremmling Cliffs for panoramic views of the area and fishing access along Muddy Creek. Meals await at a Colorado’s "brewstillery” — Grand Adventure Brewing.
Fraser is another ideally situated home base for exploring the area’s outdoors (and is perhaps best known for its convenient lift-served snowtubing hill in winter). Pop into Fraser Valley Distilling, Camber Brewing and Fraser River Beer CO for local flavor.
Retreat to Hot Sulphur Springs to do what visitors have done since the time of the Ute Indians: Soak in mineral-rich pools. Volcanic rock 35,000 feet below the earth’s surface heats the water that fills the pools at the town’s namesake resort and spa. Then peek into the Pioneer Village Museum and then enjoy the town’s easy-to-access fishing, trails, disc golf, picnic areas and walking bridge over the Colorado River. Save room for fine dining at Dean Public House, which charms in one the county’s oldest buildings.
Take a drive through the Rocky Mountain National Park at sunrise — a prime time for wildlife sightings. You can see moose year-round (from a safe distance, of course) in the national park, Winter Park and Grand Lake.
Winter Park Resort’s deep snow, diverse terrain and the Winter Park Express Amtrak route from Denver right to the slopes make it a favorite skiing, snowboarding and fat-biking destination with beginners and experts alike. Nearby, the smaller Ski Granby Ranch is known as a long-time family favorite.
All the Grand County towns pack in plenty of fun beyond the slopes, with groomed trails for snowshoers and cross-country skiers, a handful of snow-tubing hills, sleigh and dogsled rides, as well as snowmobiling routes with epic Continental Divide views. In Grand Lake you can ride your snowmobile through town and right up to your favorite Grand Avenue lunch spot or take a spin on the town’s ice-skating rink.
Check out our Colo-Road Trip itineraries: Grand County Explorer — Grand Lake, Kremmling, Granby, Winter Park & More and Grand County in Winter.