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Our all-seasons guide to visiting Grand Lake, Colorado

Visit Grand Lake Colorado if you want to hike, bike, paddle, and enjoy mountain views!

By: Aurora Slaughter + Save to a List

Grand Lake has a lot to offer, from summer days relaxing on the lake to cold winters snuggling by the fire or racing down the ski hill. Read below for some great activities and places to go during your stay in Grand Lake.

Where to stay

Rent a cabin

Whether you want to cozy up by the fire or catch extraordinary views from a lakefront cabin, there are many beautiful homes to borrow for your trip. Try websites like Airbnb, Whimstay, and Hipcamp to browse available cabins by date, size, amenities, and whether they're dog friendly.

A lodge or inn

Check into places like the Western Riviera Lakeside Lodge or the Grand Lake Lodge if you like the rustic look without the rustic realities. These historical spots have recently been remodeled and have all the creature comforts of home, from comfy beds and TVs to wireless internet. Plus, they're very close to Rocky Mountain National Park, where you can hike, picnic, watch wildlife, fish, go horseback riding, and more!

RV or tent camp

Check out nearby campgrounds like Elk Creek Campground & RV Park or Green Ridge Campground if you want to spend more quality time outdoors or are looking for less expensive lodging. 

While there are no camping options directly next to Grand Lake, the lake is connected to Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby, which have several campsites on their shorelines. These campsites also offer more private, tucked-away sites for those seeking solitude.

    Hit the trails

    Whether you want to head into Rocky Mountain National Park for a day or stay closer to the Grand Lake area, there are many hiking and biking trails. Here are a few suggestions to get you started!

    Hike to Adams Falls 

    A waterfall rushes through the rocks and logs
    Photo: Bill Varner

    Distance: 1 mile
    Elevation: 113 ft
    Type: Out-and-Back

    Just six minutes away from the main street in Grand Lake, hiking to Adams Falls is a great way to get some fresh air without heading too far away from the town. This walk has minimal elevation and is relatively short, especially when considering the awesome view of the falls! No wonder it's one of the most popular trails near Grand Lake. 

    Outbound users noted that the water is very cold, narrow, and moves fast, so you don't want to try to swim or jump in it. One user made this hike in Chaco sandals, noting that you don't have to don hiking boots or other more technical footwear due to the reasonable terrain. Watch for moose, as they are often seen in this area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

    Hike to Lone Pine Lake 

    a river winds along the green meadow towards a mountain peak
    Photo: Dani Rodriguez

    Distance: 10.44 mile
    Elevation: 1,494 ft
    Type: Out-and-Back

    Head to the East Inlet Trailhead and enjoy the stunning scenery on this longer hike. The backdrop for the trail includes three towering mountains, a waterfall and river, and Grand and Shadow Lakes. Hikers love the thick shade from the pine forest as they hike toward Lone Pine Lake.

    The trail passes Adams Falls before heading three more miles to a cliff lookout with views of Grand and Shadow Mountain Lakes. After that, there's a 2.5-mile uphill walk that's mostly shaded and has rocks along a river that are perfect for taking a water and snack break. 

    You'll know you're nearing the end when you see a "Lone Pine Lake" sign. Rest and enjoy lunch on the rocks at the water's edge before returning to the trailhead, a mostly downhill journey. One Outbound user noted they are a novice hiker and were pleasantly surprised by how they managed the hike. They said the views are worth it!

    Bike the Doe Creek Trail

    A sign for the hike sits among the brush
    Photo: Tammy Millington

    Distance: 7.13 mile
    Elevation: 1,617 ft
    Type: Loop

    Enjoy this great singletrack trail that winds through aspen and pine forests and a beautiful meadow. This can be a fairly steep trail for bikers and may involve some hike-a-biking for some parts on the way up. Coming down, there are options for some switchbacks to avoid burning out your brakes. Follow along the trail as it winds next to Lake Granby, taking a break to cool off and refresh.

    Enjoy winter activities

    Whether you want to ice fish, snowmobile, ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or go on a sled dog ride, you have options. Head about 40 minutes to Winter Park Resort to go skiing and snowboarding. 

    Visit Snow Mountain Ranch to snowshoe, Nordic ski, race sled dogs, and ice skate. Stick closer to Grand Lake by ice fishing on one of the lakes or snowshoeing along one of the many trails surrounding the town and in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. Below are just a few of the amazing options to consider.

    Ice fish on Lake Granby

    A person sits over an ice fishing hole
    Photo by Kathleen Morton

    Bundle up, drill into the ice, and pull up a chair on Lake Granby to catch a limit of fish. Rumor has it, there have been trout up to 32 inches long in this lake! Keep an eye on your rod, pull out a drink or snacks, and enjoy quality time with family and friends out on the ice. After all, fishing is a great reason to spend time with loved ones! Be sure to pick up a Colorado fishing license before heading out onto the ice.

    Ski or snowboard at Winter Park Ski Resort or try your hand at backcountry skiing along Berthoud Pass

    A person looks down on the mountain with skis in hand
    Photo : Chris Engelsman

    Winter Park Ski Resort is one of Colorado's most popular places to ski. Enjoy a wide variety of terrain and hit up both the Winter Park and Mary Jane sides during your day shredding the slopes. After a long day on the hill, relax at one of the many restaurants available throughout the resort.

    If you want more powder and fewer crowds, head to Berthoud Pass and do some backcountry skiing. A former ski resort, Berthoud is popular for people looking for ski tour routes. From the top, you can do shuttle runs down the south side of the pass or venture to the east and west side of the road and do some out and backs.

    Snowshoe or Cross-Country ski on Snow Mountain Ranch

    Snowshoers hike along the trail
    Photo: Jennifer Broome

    Head to Snow Mountain Ranch for some family-friendly fun. Snowshoe or Ski along this route to Rowley Homestead, an old ranch where people lived off the land in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There are many other activities in this area, so bring the whole family and make a day of it. Watch for elk and moose sightings while snowshoeing through the aspen trees. If you're bringing kids, make it a game to spot signs of elk! Watch for poop, antler scrapes, and even signs the elk have been munching on the trees! They'll peel the bark up to eight feet up a tree! 

    Note: Visitors don't have to be Snow Mountain Ranch guests to use the trails. You can purchase day passes, rent ski and snowshoe gear, take lessons, and get a guided Nordic ski or snowshoe tour.

    Other fun activities

    If you need a break from all the heart-pumping, adrenaline-inducing activity, there are ample opportunities to have some fun and relax in the town. 

    Walk along the boardwalk and shop

    Head down the historic boardwalk in Grand Lake and browse through shops showcasing clothing, artisanal wares, artwork, and local fare. Support the local businesses and purchase souvenirs from your trip!

    Visit the local theater

    A group of dancers in dresses, bob wigs, headbands, and white knee-high heeled boots are dancing across a stage. The stage is lit up red.
    Photo from @rocky_mountain_rep on Instagram

    Stop by the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, and watch one of the Broadway musicals they put on each summer. Past shows include "The Pirates of Penzance," Something Rotten," and "The Carole King Musical."

    Looking over a mini golf course with mountains surrounding it.
    Photo: Meandering Moose Yelp

    Go mini golfing

    The Meandering Moose is an 18-hole miniature golf course in Grand Lake that's perfect for people of all ages! Visit this family business if you're looking for a low-key, fun way to spend time outside without heading into the wild. Expect stunning mountain views and well-thought-out course features, from retaining walls and pools to tunnels. 

    Photograph moose in Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park 

    A moose runs through a meadow
    Photo: Tsalani Lassiter

    This area is popular for moose sightings, so take a short drive or walk and keep your cameras out to photograph this majestic creature. One of the most popular places to see moose is near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. While they will likely stay away from the main street in Grand Lake due to crowds, moose often roam about the side streets near less popular entrances to the lake.

    While staying in Grand Lake, there are ample other opportunities to photograph the fall foliage, stunning snow-capped mountains, and memorable sunsets over the water. Keep your camera (or phone!) with you for all your nature-filled and scenic adventures.

    Spend quality time on the lake

    Grand Lake lit up with a golden hue at sunset
    Photo: Aurora Slaughter

    Extending 507 surface acres and going down almost 400 feet, Grand Lake is Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake. Relax on the small beach area and take a dip if you are feeling brave. Due to its high altitude, much of the water is snowmelt and remains chilling to the bone even in the warmest of months. 

    If you want to do some water-based activities that are not swimming, you can rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or boat from one of the shops along the lakefront instead. Since the lake connect to two other lakes, you can also paddle between them!

    Attend an outdoor market or festival

    People in shorts and t shirts are attending an outdoor market. There are booths in rows and vendors sell their wares under white tents.
    Photo: @gograndlake Instagram

    Grand Lake hosts many outdoor markets and festivals frequented by locals and visitors. Attend the Grand Lake Arts and Crafts Festival to shop handcrafted wares and artisanal products. Or, head to Troublesome Fest, an outdoor music festival fundraiser for a nonprofit called Fire on the Mountain that provides wildfire education in the local community.

    Eat and Drink

    Stop for ice cream at Miyauchi's Snack Bar

    A black and white image of a sign that reads,
    Photo from the Miyauchi's Facebook

    Located right by the lake, this snack bar often has a line down the street of people waiting for burgers, fries, and ice cream. With a constantly rotating menu of unique homemade ice cream flavors (dairy and non-dairy), eating this creamy and delicious treat is the perfect way to unwind after a long day. Buy a cone and sit along the pier for a stunning lakeside view with your sweet treat.

    Eat at One Love Rum Kitchen

    A lime green table hosts food an drinks despite being surrounded by snow.
    Photo: One Love Rum Kitchen Instagram

    Enjoy good vibes, high-energy ambiance, and great food and drinks at One Love. Boasting delectable food items like ceviche, curry, Mahi Mahi tacos, and coconut rum chicken, this place is a favorite for many in Grand Lake. 

    Its diverse selection stands out in the small mountain town and allows visitors and locals alike to shake things up. Sip craft cocktails or a house rum-based hot toddy and enjoy the warm hospitality of this casual dining spot.

    Stop at The Waterfront for a bite 

    A rainbow appears to be coming out of a lake that looks dark due to dark clouds. A white-and-red striped umbrella is in the foreground.
    Photo from The Waterfront Grand Lake Instagram

    Head to the Waterfront for spectacular lakeside views, fantastic service, and tasty food and drinks. Serving everything from burgers and mac'n cheese to udon noodles with seared ahi and apple farro salads, there is something for everyone at this local place. Eat your meal with a Colorado craft brew or margarita and enjoy the exceptional views.

    The Wake Coffee Shop

    A late with a heart milk art in a green mug rests on the railing of a deck overlooking a lake with docks in it.
    Photo: The Wake Coffee Shop Facebook

    Before you head home, wake up early and enjoy some much-needed coffee and pastries at this locally-owned and operated coffee shop, The Wake. Start your day by saturating your stomach with the warm, gooey goodness of one of their specialty cinnamon rolls while sipping freshly brewed coffee.

    Note: Since this is a small mountain town, some of the stores close seasonally. Check ahead of time to make sure your restaurant, café, or snack place of choice is open.

    Cover: Ellery Sterling.

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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