Archive for June, 2009

Grand Lake Adventure

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

North Shore Lodge

North Shore Lodge

by Emily D Stine

Just two hours out of Denver and 3000 feet up in elevation at 8437 feet lies a lovely little mountain town most folks haven’t heard of, especially those non-native to Colorado. It’s a place that is more known for its summer tourism, though in the winter it becomes a snow mobile paradise. Most winter tourists would skip right past Grand Lake as it is not connected to any of the ski towns, but I’ve made it my destination for New Year’s Eve.

There are three lakes bordering the town of Grand Lake: Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Lake, and Grand Lake. Grand Lake is actually the biggest natural body of water in the state of Colorado, formed by glaciers, and now sits sparkling at the basin of a mountain with an elevation of 8,367 feet.

We arrive long enough to run over to the little neighborhood market and get some New Year’s Eve essentials and then watch the sun set over the mountains on the patio of our little cabin. The town is slightly more abuzz with tourists than normal but is still quiet for the wintertime, as Grand Lake enjoys more tourism in the summer. We don’t mind, sipping our wine and taking in the pink sky.


The snow has painted Grand Lake as the perfect little mountain town and as an essential retreat if you want to escape city life for a weekend. It’s got all the trappings of the Old West, formed in 1867 as a mining town outfitting nearby mines. These days, it’s more of a tourist town without being overdone. We are one of the few guests at the North Shore Resorts, cozy cabins off the shore of Lake Granby and we are informed by our caretaker that he had to clear out three feet of snow just for us to get to our door

A quick dinner and we’re heading to the town center for the New Year’s festivities. The town feels quaint and friendly. Grand Lake is one of those one-street towns, complete with wooden sidewalks and a palpable feeling of the Old West. It has a population of about 500 but summer brings ten times as many tourists. I should know, as my family had a condo here when I was a kid, and every summer brought fishing, hiking and all around shenanigans.

We go to one of the few bars in town and its cozy and friendly. Everybody is in a festive mood; even the deer mounted on the wall has donned a Santa hat for the occasion.

The whole town is kicked out of the bar (momentarily) for the New Year because there are fireworks over Shadow Mountain Lake each year. It is breath-taking as we slide a little on the ice taking in the show.

The next morning, we enjoy a breakfast in town and explore a little, coming across a great local brewery and venturing out to where my family once owned our condo. While exploring, we notice the grave extent to which beetle rot has hit the beautiful forests of Colorado. Then unto Grand Lake Lanes, which boasts homemade (amazing) pizza, it’s the only bowling alley in town and has cheap beer to boot! After many games, and a poor showing on my part, we meandered back to our little cabin on Lake Granby.

Morning came all too early, as our neighbors are huge snow mobilers. We shuffle our feet out to the front deck yawning as four or five snowmobiles wonder across the frozen lake.

Later we take to the swing set in our thermal wear. With the Colorado sun, the weather is actually very tolerable for January. It’s cold, but not East Coast cold. We play on the swing set for a while, enjoy a frosty one on the porch and slowly pack up our things as we’re going to miss the spectacular views.

Then we head over to Rocky Mountain National Park, only minutes away, hike in the fresh snow but soon enough we’re back in the car, headed down the mountain and back to Denver and away from our mountain paradise.

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