Grand Lake, Colorado


By the time you reach the southwestern boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll probably be tired of driving on curvy roads, and hungry for a good meal.  The town of Grand Lake can provide you with a much-needed break, and meal.

Grand Lake, Colorado

The town is located on the shore of, you guessed it, Grand Lake.  Despite it’s name, the lake is actually smaller than two others that you’ll pass as you head down the road–Lake Granby and Shadow Mountain Lake.

Grand Lake Colorado

The water’s edge is just a few steps from the town’s boardwalk sidewalks.  You’ll find rowboat and paddleboat rental places, and a pier that’s perfect for relaxing and watching the sunset.

Grand Lake, Colorado

Spot this statue, and you’ve found a path that leads from downtown to the lake.

Pancho & Lefty's Restaurant, Grand Lake CO

There are several tempting places to eat in town, but if you’re craving Mexican fare (and if you’re not, why would you even bother with a trip to the southwest?) stop in at Pancho and Lefty’s.  I recommend the chile verde (green chile–it’s similar to a soup, made with shredded pork, and it’s fantastic!)

Granby, Colorado

lakes near granby colorado

After leaving Grand Lake, you’ll drive by Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby.  The landscape never really flattens out, but the mountains aren’t quite as imposing.

mountains near granby colorado

US Rte. 34 ends at Granby, Colorado, at the intersection with US 40.  You’ll want to take US 40 East (even though it runs south here) for the return to Interstate 70.

farmland near granby colorado

You’ll even find some flat farmland amongst the mountains along US 40.

The ski area of Winter Park has plenty of resort hotels, and I imagine they are packed during Colorado’s more frigid months.  However, as I drove through on this August night, the place felt quite empty.  Some resorts had signs posted at the side of the road, advertising cheap rates (well under $100).  If that’s not enough to tempt you to stop for the night, you can continue over Berthoud Pass, then find a place off one of I-70’s exits.

Berthoud Pass, Colorado

Crescent Moon over mountains, Colorado

As I crossed Berthoud Pass on US Rte. 40, I noticed a perfect crescent moon peeking over the mountain.  So, I stopped at a wide turnoff at the side of the road for these pictures.

Crescent Moon over mountains, Colorado

I spent night #2 at a reasonably priced, and reasonably clean, Super 8 Motel in Georgetown.

Note: This trip was first published in 2005.

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