Visit Grand Lake, Colorado for a weekend getaway in summer or winter

Located just 100 miles west of Denver, Grand Lake sits at the edge of Colorado’s largest natural lake, and is the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. In winter, the historic mountain town is the “Snowmobile Capital of the United States.” In summer, when winter snows have melted and turned the landscape green, it’s a perfect weekend getaway spot.


Cartoon with check mark

  • appreciate the water
  • get on the water
  • shop
  • watch or participate in a regatta
  • take advantage of unique lodging properties

Cartoon with x mark

  • miss the theater
  • skip the national park
  • forget to eat and drink often
  • ignore packing for the mountains
  • expect the pace of city life

[publishpress_authors_data]'s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do appreciate the water

Grand Lake itself is the largest natural body of water in Colorado. With 507 surface acres, boating, swimming and sailing offer 360-degree views of majestic mountains. The lake is framed by the quaint town of Grand Lake.

Do get on the water

Beyond Grand Lake are Shadow Mountain Reservoir, Lake Granby and the Colorado River. In fact, the area around Grand Lake boasts 1,000 acres of lakes and 11,000 acres of reservoirs. Take a sailing lesson, go rafting, or zip around Shadow Mountain Lake on a Sea-Doo personal watercraft. Outfitters rent these to the public, as well as pontoon boats, canoes, kayaks, power boats, fishing boats, and bait and tackle.

Do shop

Grand Lake’s famous Old West boardwalk is lined with 60 shops, restaurants and galleries, all with western-style storefronts. Take a stroll down the boardwalk and do some window shopping along your way.

Do watch or participate in a regatta

Regatta week takes place each year in early August. During the week, the Grand Lake Yacht Club, one of the highest-altitude yacht anchorages in the world, hosts its annual week of racing. Also, the Spirit of the Lake Regatta takes place after regatta week and the event is open to rowers, kayakers, canoeists, and stand-up paddle-boarders.

Do take advantage of unique lodging properties

Grand Lake is full of rustic properties with modern conveniences. The stately Grand Lake Lodge, open only in the summer, occupies a spot on the National Registry of Historic Places. Known for its “favorite front porch” and large circular fireplace, the lodge, with 56 cabins, is surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park and overlooks the Town of Grand Lake, along with Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake itself. Another example: the Rapids Lodge, a one-time brothel built in 1915.

[publishpress_authors_data]'s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not miss the theater

Since 1960, the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater presents professional, live performances at its new $5.2 million venue. The theater, which sells out for most performances, opens in June each year and continues through September.

Do not skip the national park

Grand Lake is the gateway to the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Insider tip: While the park is one of the most visited in the United States, its western side is less visited, less crowded, and much quieter. The park is a renowned national treasure, offering unforgettable drives through pine meadows, up rugged slopes, and into open alpine highlands.

Do not forget to eat and drink often

At an elevation of 8,366 feet, it’s easy to become dehydrated and not know it. Fill a bottle with water and keep drinking throughout your trip. Drinking plenty of water, and eating small, frequent meals throughout the day also helps to prevent headaches often associated with visits to high altitude.

Do not ignore packing for the mountains

Use sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses: Higher altitudes can produce severe sunburns, even with cloud cover and temperatures in the 50s. For frequent afternoon thunderstorms, bring a rain jacket. Remember that temperatures can drop 40-50 degrees from day to night at higher elevations, so take along a sweater, jacket, and clothes made of wicking materials. Be prepared to take layers on and off to stay comfortable and dry.

Do not expect the pace of city life

The charm of the town – population 447 – is its relaxed, friendly pace and vibe. Enjoying the mountain views, getting some outdoor exercise and taking it easy is what a summer weekend is all about.


For more than 100 years, visitors have been returning year after year to Grand Lake for a summer break. Some come for a day, some for a weekend or a week, some for the season – and a few for a lifetime. As the Grand Lake Chamber says, “Visit once, and you’ll know why it’s hard to leave.”

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