Spend Winter – or Summer – in Grand County, Colorado, by Travel Writers

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By Jim Farber

In February 1928, an incredible feat of railway engineering was accomplished when the first locomotive passed through the 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel, connecting the east and west sides of the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and shortening the distance between Denver and the Pacific coast. 176 miles. Later, the construction of US Highway 40 on the 11,307-foot summit of Berthoud Pass would provide further access to the beautiful scenery of Grand County and its two crown gems – Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park.

TToday, the area is one of Colorado’s top tourist attractions: a hiker’s paradise wishing to explore hundreds of miles of trails; boaters who like to fly over the glassy surface of Grand, Shadow and Granby lakes; winter sports enthusiasts head to the myriad of trails in Winter Park; and those who simply enjoy browsing the area’s multiple shops (many with fantastic western facades), watering holes and restaurants.

As picturesque as it is, you don’t have to look far to see the scars left by the Eastern Fire which, between October 20 and 23, 2020, caused residents to flee with barely more than the clothes on the back as flames consumed 87,000 acres and nearly wiped out the village of Grand Lake and its historic Grand Lake Lodge.

Even so, when I recently visited the area, nature had already started the process of regeneration. And next spring, after a thick blanket of snow melts, Grand County can expect a fresh new landscape of verdant grasses, a rainbow of wildflowers, and the beginnings of a new forest of pines and aspens.

Grand County may not have the golden cache of Vail or Aspen, but it is far from unknown. The townships surrounding the lakes are full of every kind of store and accommodation imaginable, from mountain bike rentals to fine dining. The village of Grand Lake is even home to a professional repertory musical theater which during the summer months is known to attract emerging Broadway talent.

But it’s Winter Park (with direct train access) that seems determined to become Colorado’s next flagship destination, whether it’s for skiers keen to explore its challenging mountain or summer mountain bikers who take pleasure in it. to hurtle down his double-black – the diamond rolls on two wheels. When I visited the mountain and descended from the top of the gondola, the hills were brought to life by the buzz of construction creating rows of new condos.

Unlike Grand Lake, with its multi-million dollar waterfront homes (and boathouses), or Winter Park with its Aspen aspirations, the city of Granby has remained staunchly working-class. But that could change with the arrival of a sprawling new resort called River Run. This huge community designed over several acres (like a cross between “The Truman Show” and “Westworld”) offers perfectly appointed lanes of spacious villas; “rustic” glamping in a replica of a Conestoga wagon; and the option to “camp” in your own Airstream trailer or in a patch of land where you can park your own RV land-yacht. There is a community center, a multi-attraction children’s play area, a mini bowling alley and video game room, a sumptuous swimming pool, three “lakes”, a general store, banquet halls and convention halls.

Created and managed by Sun RV Resorts, the hope is that River Run becomes a family destination in itself as well as a conveniently located starting point for exploring the surrounding countryside.

But while River Run will undoubtedly provide much needed employment opportunities and tax revenue for Granby, its creation was not popular with everyone I spoke to, including a former ranger who has lamented the loss of the rolling prairie where herds of American antelope used to graze.

It comes down to: “What is the price of progress? Unsurprisingly, this is the same question we’ve been asking since the days of John Muir.

WHEN YOU GO

County of Grand: www.colorado.com/articles/grand-county-grand-lake-winter-park-hot-sulphur-springs-more

Grand Lac: www.gograndlake.com

Winter park: www.playwinterpark.com

River Run: www.sunrresorts.com/river-run

Winter Park Village in Colorado welcomes summer hikers and winter skiers. Photo courtesy of Jim Farber.

    The historic Grand Lake Lodge in Colorado survived the Eastern Fire of 2020 and is expected to return to its usual splendor by Spring 2022. Photo courtesy of Jim Farber.

The historic Grand Lake Lodge in Colorado survived the Eastern Fire of 2020 and is expected to return to its usual splendor by Spring 2022. Photo courtesy of Jim Farber.

    A hiker descends from the summit of Winter Park in Colorado.  Photo courtesy of Jim Farber.

A hiker descends from the summit of Winter Park in Colorado. Photo courtesy of Jim Farber.

Jim Farber is a freelance writer. To read articles from other Creators Syndicate authors and designers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

The historic Grand Lake Lodge in Colorado survived the Eastern Fire of 2020 and is expected to return to its usual splendor by Spring 2022. Photo courtesy of Jim Farber.


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