We take winter fun seriously here in Grand Lake!
Grand Lake, Colo. (PRWEB) November 15, 2011
Situated just one mile from the western entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and designated as one of the top snowmobiling destinations in the country, Grand Lake is a Colorado winter sports playground.
Beginning in January, Rocky Mountain National Park rangers lead guided snowshoe tours in the park nearly every weekend through March. Free-heel skiers have nearly unlimited opportunities for telemarking and cross-country skiing with trails in the national park, as well as nearby Arapahoe National Forest and at Grand Lake Nordic Center, where the new Scenic River Trail is getting plenty of play this winter. Snowmobiling clubs and outfitters are also taking advantage of ideal snow conditions, trailblazing on over 120,000 acres of alpine terrain.
“We take winter fun seriously here in Grand Lake,” said Lisa Jenkins, Executive Director of the Grand Lake Chamber. “Rocky Mountain National Park is just one of Grand Lake’s many winter playgrounds. I’d say what we do best is helping people get out there whether it’s on a snowmobile, skis or snowshoes; on a guided tour, through an outfitter or on their own.”
One of the most popular ways to spend a few hours in Grand Lake is to sign up for a ranger-led snowshoe tour. Beginning in January, groups meet at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at the western entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, where rangers lead small groups, highlighting the region’s natural wonders including area wildlife, geology and history along the way.
Two tours are available, one for beginners and one for intermediates, each two hours long. The snowshoe tours are informative, fun and fill up fast; they are ideal for many, but not recommended for children under the age of eight. Be sure to call 970-586-1206 or register online in advance. Participants supply their own snowshoes and ski poles or can rent equipment and purchase supplies at Never Summer Mountain Products, the place to go for outdoor gear in Grand Lake.
For those interested in exploring the park’s extensive trail system on their own, check in at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center for suggestions and trail maps. Rocky Mountain National Park does not permit snowmobiling or pets in the park; the tranquil conditions are favorable for spotting the park’s ample wildlife. Be on the lookout for elk, mule deer, big horn sheep, coyotes and even moose. An easily accessible trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing is the East Inlet Trail. The four mile, out-and-back trail ends at the far end of a large open meadow. En route, don’t miss the side trail that leads to Adams Falls; it’s a steep but worthwhile hike.
Outside Rocky Mountain National Park, visitors will find plenty more opportunities to pursue winter pastimes. Grand Lake Nordic Center, just minutes from town, features 35 kilometers of beginner through advanced classic skate and skiing trails. The Scenic River Trail is the newest addition to the groomed trail system and is quickly becoming a favorite among the free-heeled. This is a destination particularly suited to kids and even the family dog; a kid’s tubing hill and a dedicated dog loop trail keeps both entertained for hours. Voted Best Nordic Center in Grand County by Sky High readers, Grand Lake Nordic Center offers lessons, rentals, retail and even free skiing lessons on Fridays for kids 16 years and younger with the exception of holidays.
A wintertime visit to Grand Lake would not be complete without a snowmobile tour though some of Colorado’s most magnificent wilderness or even a ride through the streets of town. Though riders cannot travel within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, there are plenty of vantage points for breathtaking views of one of the nation’s most visited national parks.
Of the 300 miles of snowmobiling trails, roughly 150 miles are maintained, making them accessible for riders of nearly every age and ability. One popular trail meanders around the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, through Arapahoe National Forest ending at Milner Pass on Trail Ridge Road. Other outstanding snowmobiling destinations include Whiskey Park, the open meadow here is perfect for beginners to learn machine handling skills, and Gravel Mountain deeper in the backcountry rising to an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet offers unmatched views. Among its many charms, Grand Lake is one of the few towns in the U.S. that still permits snowmobiles to navigate its snow-packed winter streets.
To find out more about snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park West, please contact the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce.
About Grand Lake, Colorado
Grand Lake is a historic mountain town nestled beneath craggy, snow-capped mountain peaks in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. 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. Year-round, Rocky Mountain National Park’s “quiet side” can be reached from Denver via I-70 and U.S. Highway 40.