Known as the “Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado,” the picturesque lakeside town of Grand Lake, Colo., transforms into a winter wonderland during the months from December to March.
Just under two hours from Denver, this spot is located on the shores of the largest natural lake in the state and bordered by Rocky Mountain National Park on three sides; this small town in Grand County offers access to both modern amenities (more than 60 shops, restaurants and galleries) and hundreds of miles of trails ideal for snowshoeing, skiing and, of course, snowmobiling.
And Grand Lake is only one part of the bigger picture of adventure that awaits in Grand County!
Grand County, Colo., is a charming winter destination full of adventure — Photo courtesy of Grand County
Given its location, Grand Lake offers stays with plenty of breathtaking views of snowy mountains and freshly dusted pine trees. The best way to experience the natural beauty of Colorado is to get outside, and snowmobiles are easy to rent here.
In fact, the town’s streets are packed with extra snow during the winter months to accommodate the hundreds of snowmobile enthusiasts who descend upon Grand Lake every season.
In fact, you can even snowmobile right down Main Street!
Snowmobiling offers anyone, even beginners, the opportunity to access remote backcountry, too. If you’re new to snowmobiling, it’s best to make an advance reservation to go with an outfitter that knows the equipment and local terrain.
For those who prefer to take it slow, snowshoeing is also excellent in the Grand County area. Anyone who can walk can showshoe, and rentals are quite affordable.
Ranger-led snowshoe tours of Rocky Mountain National Park are offered on weekends. Total beginners can make a reservation to attend the Beginner Snowshoe walk on Saturdays at 1 p.m., which is mostly level. Those with a bit more experience can sign up for the Intermediate Snowshoe, which offers a more rigorous tour, with elevation gains of up to 500 feet; these are scheduled on Sundays at 1 p.m.
Tours meet at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, and reservations are required no more than 7 days in advance. Also note that you’ll need to bring your own (or rented!) snowshoes.
If you’re more of a DIY type of adventurer, snowshoe rentals at the Grand Lake Nordic Center are just $14 for a full day or $12 for a half-day. The 1.5 miles of trails nearby are well marked, easy to navigate and dog-friendly for your canine companions. You can snowshoe through aspen and lodge pole pine forests and open meadows to the Colorado River, where there is a non-motorized bridge for seeking out wildlife or animal tracks.
The Grand Lake Nordic Center's trails offer great views of the Rocky Mountains, and in addition to snowshoeing, they offer the beginner to advanced skier a variety of terrain.
If you’re lucky enough to be in town during one of their four Full Moon Skis, you won’t want to miss out. Moonlight trail passes are only $5 and rentals are $10, while complimentary hot chocolate and marshmallows are served by the campfire.
Families with kids also won’t want to miss out on free tubing at the Grand Lake Nordic Center. They provide 10 tubes to be shared and a free tubing hill available for guests.
Another spot in Grand County that has great skiing is Ski Granby Ranch. Ski Granby Ranch is the perfect destination for families with kids who want to learn to ski safely. It’s never overcrowded, meaning you won’t have to battle for a parking spot or find yourself colliding with fellow skiers on the slopes.
Ski Granby Ranch offers easy lift access, gladed skiing and a terrain park with progressive features, along with wide-open terrain that includes beginner, intermediate and advanced runs. All trails begin at one point and end at the base, so parents and children can ski at their own level without getting lost.