Colorado is famed for its wild natural world, and Grand County is one of the best places to immerse yourself in it. Lakes and reservoirs teem with fish, and together with the surrounding wetlands draw vast and diverse bird populations. In the summer, the rolling pine forests of Arapaho National Forest are one of the state's best mountain biking destinations, while in winter the region's snow-covered slopes attract skiers of all abilities.
Pioneer structures, from big ranches to hand-built mountain shacks, capture a rougher, rawer existence that was common in this wilderness at the end of the 19th century. And the county encompasses much of the western half of Rocky Mountain National Park, quieter but by no means less awe-inspiring than the more crowded west. The area is two hours west of Denver, and is served by two public airports: one in The Granby, and the other in nearby Kremmling – McElroy Field.
Photo by EricMagnuson/Flickr
Surrounded by the pine-covered slopes of Arapaho National Forest, the Winter Park Resort contain over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. This is spread over seven separate ski areas, with something for all ability levels, from the superb mogul skiing of Mary Jane to the beginner friendly trails of Winter Park. The Resort is also establishing itself as a popular summer destination, known for its great mountain biking park and many other family friendly activities.
The Kauffman House Museum draws visitors into northwest Colorado's pioneer past. It is situated in a beautifully preserved log hotel which was built by Ezra Kauffman on the shores of Grand Lake in 1892. Kauffman arrived in the area in 1877 to work as a miner and hunting guide, before deciding to open a hotel, in which he lived with his wife and three daughters until his death in 1920. The furnishings and decor of the rooms evoke life at the turn of Century, and volunteers are on hand to illuminate the stories contained within the museum's many artifacts.
The Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses one of America's great wildernesses, 415 square miles of wetland, forest, grassland and craggy alpine peaks. Hikers into the park step into the natural habitat of a diversity of wild creatures, including black bears, elk, cougars and coyotes. Grand County covers the western side of the National Park, which is somewhat quieter and less-visited than its eastern reaches.
This Belgian beer bar nestled among the lower slopes of Colorado's Rockies is a great place to stumble into after a day's outdoor exploration. Its wide collection of beers includes a few unusual brews that aren't found anywhere else in the state. The alcohol is complemented by a menu with several types of burgers and gourmet sandwiches as well as French and German inspired pub grub.
A corral of elegant horses lined up against the jagged backdrop of the Rocky Mountains is the defining sight of Drowsy Water Ranch, which ranks among the most popular Dude Ranches – formerly working cattle ranches converted for use by tourists – in the US. It's been run by the Fosha family since 1977, and they make it easy for guests to swing themselves over a saddle and explore the wilds surrounding the small town of Granby, Colorado. The ranch boasts luxurious sleeping and eating quarters, too.