Sweet Mountain Summer: Top 10 Ways to Take Advantage of Warmer Weather + Longer Days in Grand County

We're sure you've heard it before - when it comes to Grand County, people "come for the winter and stay for the summer." There's no question that Winter Park is known for its deep powder, epic resort & backcountry skiing, and wealth of winter fun, but the secret is out: summer in the mountains is about as good as it gets. Ideal temperatures, opportunities for adventure in every direction, and fun, free events all summer long make the short but oh-so-sweet season yet another reason we love calling this place home. 

And if you're looking to get the most out of your summer in the mountains, be sure to check out these top 10 summer activities in Grand County!

1. LAKE ADVENTURES

Our three lakes region is a summertime fun mecca! Set up base camp on the shore of Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, or Grand Lake to spend the day paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing with the backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Grand Lake's town beach is an ideal spot for a sandy beach and a kid-friendly swim area - we recommended finding a spot on a weekday if possible! We also love Shadow Mountain's Pine Beach picnic area for a day of paddling. For quick access off Highway 40, Rainbow Bay and Sunset Point on Lake Granby have some great shoreline access as well. Or get out on a speed or pontoon boat to explore the lakes at a little faster pace! You can even make pit stops along the shore or at some of the islands scattered across the middle of Shadow Mountain and Lake Granby.

Looking to avoid the wake and access some paddle-only options? Drive along Lake Granby's shoreline until you reach Monarch Lake, the picturesque mountain lake ideal for paddling. You can also jump onto Willow Creek Reservoir across Highway 40 or head up to Meadow Creek Reservoir outside of Fraser.

Lake life is the epitome of summer vibes, so we hope you get out to enjoy Grand County's lakes this summer! 

2. BIKING

While a majority of the country reaches sweltering temperatures that make a midday bike ride impossible in the summer, we have the luxury of pedaling on our varied terrain in ideal weather all summer long. Road biking? Take the beginner-friendly route from Lake Granby to Granby. Or challenge yourself on Willow Creek Pass outside of Granby. If you're feeling ambitious, try the 74-mile ride from Rocky Mountain National Park's Alpine Visitor Center to Granby (a 4,925 ft elevation change!).

If you're into gravel biking, we have dirt roads for days! Take the 10 mile dirt road from Lake Granby to Monarch Lake on CR 6, explore Church Park outside of Fraser, or dig deep with the 71-mile "Sunset Boulevard" ride from Tabernash through the YMCA, over Little Cottonwood Pass and back to Tabernash via CR 50.

Our personal favorite summertime activity is mountain biking. Check out some of our favorite trails, or head out to explore the hundreds of miles of trails in our extensive cross-country trail system. Ready for more of an adrenaline rush? Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park Resort and Granby Ranch's Bike Park have some of the best downhill mountain biking around. 

3. HIKING

If hitting the trail on two feet with a pack full of supplies is your summer go-to for exploring the Rockies and getting in a solid workout, Grand County has a season full of adventure for you! 

For gentle hikes, check out the Fraser River Trail from the town of Winter Park to Winter Park Resort, the Flume/Creekside Loop in Fraser's Experimental Forest, or the Jim Creek Trail along the creek and past a beautiful waterfall. 

Second Creek to Broome Hut on Berthoud Pass gives you the elevation gain and views with minimal mileage - definitely worth checking out if you're crunched for time or would love the views but not the day-long hike. 

For a little more challenge, check out the Columbine Lake hike. The 7 miles round trip trail has a steady incline and breathtaking scenery. You’ll start down near Tabernash at the Junco Lake Trailhead, just behind Meadow Creek Reservoir. 

To really break a sweat and get some jaw-dropping views, try the hike up to Byers Peak or Devil's Thumb. They're two of our favorites and definitely leave you ready to kick your feet up. 

The opportunities to hike are seemingly endless here in Grand County. From Rocky Mountain National Park's trails to a quick loop in Idlewild's trail system, you can make your own adventure this summer on our hundreds of thousands of trails. 

4. FISHING

Grand County is home to more fishable waters than any other county in Colorado: about 1,000 miles of streams and rivers, 1,000 acres of high mountain lakes, and a  11,000 acres of reservoirs. Whether you're stillwater fishing on a lake or fly fishing on a moving water, you're sure to find your sweet spot here in Grand County. In fact, President Eisenhower loved fly-fishing this area so much that it earned the nickname “the Western White House.” Check out these tips, tricks, and locations for fishing Grand County

5. WINTER PARK RESORT BASE

Winter Park Resort is known for being a ski and snowboard destination, but it turns into a high-altitude playground come summer. Serious fun for the whole family! Some of your crew can kick off to pedal the Trestle trails while others take advantage of the alpine slide, climbing wall, ropes course, and mini-golf.  Bring a picnic or grab some food and drinks at the base . Need a break from the sun? Pop into the shops in the Village or find a chair under a sun canopy. If you're looking to turn your elevation up a notch, hike a trail or take the Gondola up to Sunspot Lodge for breathtaking views, food and drinks, and yard games!

6. FREE OUTDOOR LIVE MUSIC

Nothing says summer like live outdoor music. Pull up a (camp) chair, enjoy drinks and food, and tap your foot along to the beat. Catch up with friends, play some lawn games, let the kids run free, and enjoy the mountain air at any (or all!) of Grand County's free live music line up this summer. Check out a  few of our favorite weekly music events:

7. GOLFING

Tee up at one of our four world-class courses with unparalleled scenery: Pole Creek Golf Club, Granby Ranch Golf Course, Grand Elk Golf Club, and Grand Lake Golf Club.  Get your hero drive on in high elevation! Thinner air makes for a longer drive, just an added bonus to the idyllic golf courses here in Grand County. Majestic mountain views, cool(er) summer temps, and uniquely designed courses make us a golfing destination. All open to the public and within 25 miles of each other, you can even play two different courses in a single day if you're feeling ambitious! 

8. RIVER RAFTING

If you've ever had the opportunity to get out on the river, whether it's a relatively gentle float down the Upper Colorado or some of the Class III & IV rapids on the Fraser River, it's likely you've caught the "river bug." Once people have a taste of the rafting life, it tends to stick with them. The comraderie of the crew you're with, the adrenaline rush of the bigger rapids, the chill time on the shore mid-float, and the laid-back, no-rush days on the river are summer living at its best. The Fraser River runs through several of our towns and on through the Fraser Canyon, but the rafting opportunities don't end there. Be sure to check out all the options to get on the river in and around Grand County

9. HORSEBACK RIDING

Exploring the Rockies in the saddle is one of those experiences that oozes western adventure and just can't be replicated. If you're looking to join an outfit on a trail ride, check out Winter Park Trail Rides in Fraser,  Rocky Mountain Stables at YMCA's Snow Mountain Ranch, and Winding River Resort in Grand Lake. 

Grand County is also home to some world-class dude ranches that turn the western experience up a notch. Check out C-Lazy U, Drowsy Water Ranch, and Devil's Thumb Ranch to book a stay for the opportunity to horseback riding adventures on their thousands of acres of wilderness. 

Have your own horses and looking for some of the best trails to explore? Doe Creek Trail in the Arapaho National Recreation Area is an easy 3.5-mile loop with little elevation gain. The lightly trafficked trail is ideal for a short ride through open meadows and aspens. For a longer ride, check out High Lonesome Trail - start off at the Junco Lake Trailhead, just past Meadow Creek Reservoir above Fraser & Tabernash. Part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, it has views for days! Catch the wildflowers in summer on this 12 mile trail. And the Byers Peak Wilderness area near Fraser is definitely worth checking out in the saddle! The Bottles Pass to Byers Peak Trail is more challenging with minimal traffic and has panoramic views from Byers Peak. 

Whether you have your own horse and trailer or are riding with one of the local outfitters, you're in for a treat. Horseback riding in Grand County is an experience the whole family can enjoy!

10. CAMPING

If you're really looking to unplug and get away from it all, most would agree that spending a few days (or more!) taking advantage of the sheer beauty of the Rocky Mountains in the woods in a tent or camper is the best way slow down and appreciate the gift of nature around us. While a majority of established campsites get booked up months in advance, there are still some first-come, first-served sites at places like Arapahoe Bay on Lake Granby (typically on the weekdays) and Idlewild Campground (outside of Winter Park on the Fraser River Trail). Dispersed camping toward and on Meadow Creek Reservoir, up Vasquez Road, and in Church Park outside Fraser are all great options for last-minute adventure. Whether you book in advance or decide to pack up and find a spot tonight, a night under the vibrant stars in the middle of the Rocky Mountains? Always a win. 

LEARN MORE

We think the Top 10 Summer Activities and Top 10 Ways to Take Advantage of the Snow Season here in the Winter Park area could easily be renamed the Top 20 Reasons to Live in Grand County! If you have any questions about summer activities, need some inside tips as you plan your adventure, or are ready to start your mountain real estate adventure, don't hesitate to reach out. We'd love to connect with you!


Posted by Angela McDonough (Sandstrom) on

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