Visit Grand Lake Colorado for Winter Adventure
Grand Lake, Colorado is other gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. I say “other” not because it deserves a second fiddle to Estes Park, but the numbers don’t lie. Rocky Mountain National Park gets nearly 3 million annual visitors and 80 percent enter through Estes Park and 20 percent through Grand Lake.
Some may see those numbers as validation that Estes Park is better and therefore more worthwhile to visit. When I see these statistics I count 1.8 million more people floating around annually on the other side. It is not that I mind my fellow human being, but when I am visiting a national park, I would rather see moose, elk, bear, and otter over an abundance of Homo sapiens.
Most people seek out a national park to find natural beauty, quietness, and solitude. While you can surely find this by entering through Estes, it is much less of a circus in Grand Lake especially during the busy summer months.
I would suggest a visit to Grand Lake in the winter time too. It is not far from Winter Park, so if you are here to hit the slopes and want to take a day trip to see the Rocky Mountains, Grand Lake is the perfect place. You can also stay a few days and soak up the small town charm before you head into the spectacular Rocky Mountain wilderness. Here are a few winter adventures you can enjoy in Grand County, Colorado.
Snowmobiling the Arapahoe National Forest
Snowmobile over trails reaching 11,000 feet in elevation with breathtaking views of the adjacent mountains on clear days. The advanced tour even reaches mountain meadows at 12,000 feet for unparalleled scenery. Colorado has 300 sunny days, so the odds are in your favor even though they were not for us. Despite the fact that the views were clouded over, it was an amazing experience cruising through beautiful pine forest as fresh powder was falling from the skies.
On the Trail Rentals offer 2 hour guided tours, or you can rent a snowmobile and explore the trails on your own. The snowmobile season here starts in mid November and lasts all the way to April 1st. There are over 130 miles of trails to choose from, so there is plenty of territory to explore.
Snowshoeing Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountain National Park turned 100 years old on January 26th. We celebrated this historic Centennial with a ranger guided snowshoe walk. Our guide Sam led our group past historic buildings, over a stream, and through the woods for a memorable hour and a half walk in the mist covered mountains.
We met at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center and drove from the trailhead from here. Beginner snowshoe walks meet every Saturday and intermediate walks on Sunday at 1 p.m. and last two hours and run from December 27th through March 8. The trips are free, but you need to bring your own snowshoes and reservations are required. You can call 970-627-3471 to make a reservation no more than 7 days in advanced.
You can rent snowshoes in Grand Lake at Never Summer Mountain Products.
*Image of Bear Lake at the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado via Shutterstock