15 Grand Summer Adventures in Colorado

A group of people in a corral learning to horseback ride. One getting on the saddle wears a helmet and the others wear cowboy hats.

When the snow melts and the rivers swell in Grand County, it’s time to dive into some summer activities. Luckily, all the local lakes, wildflower-lined trails and waterfront campsites make outdoor adventure easy, especially with these 15 activities you ought to try before the snow returns in late fall. Below, check out some of the best things to do in Colorado in the summer, along with locals’ tips to make the most of your trip.

Grand County, Colorado Summer Activities

  1. Horseback Riding
  2. Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
  3. Spot a Moose
  4. Sailing on Grand Lake
  5. Camping
  6. Grand County Golf Courses
  7. Fourth of July Fireworks
  8. Trestle Bike Park
  9. Kayaking in Grand County
  10. Grand County Music Festivals
  11. Lake Granby Fishing
  12. Grand County Pontoon Boat Rentals
  13. Hot-Air Balloon in Grand County
  14. Backcountry Huts
  15. Winter Park Alpine Slide

Horseback Riding

In Grand County, horseback riding is a way of life. Whether you stay at a world-class guest ranch or saddle up on your own on a spruce-lined wilderness trail like Bowen Gulch, you'll find plenty of opportunities to roam free out West this summer. For an all-inclusive adventure, check into the C Lazy U Ranch, a family-friendly dude ranch with a herd of more than 200 horses that accommodate all riding abilities.

Learn More: Choose your own adventure and check out this guide to horseback-riding trails.

2. Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

As one of America's greatest national wonders, Rocky Mountain National Park boasts more than 350 miles of hiking trails. Of those, the western slope trails in Grand County are far less traveled than those on the eastern slope. So indulge your inner Robert Frost and head to Timber Lake or the rigorous 8-mile one-way trek to Haynach Lakes. Just remember: Timed-entry permits are required to enter the park during busier months.

Learn More: Uncover these secret lakes and hidden gems in Rocky Mountain National Park.

3. Spot a Moose

In summer, moose are not hard to find in Grand County. This majestic animal’s preferred habitat is among leafy stands of willows and on the edge of forests. The outlet of Grand Lake and the Kawuneeche Valley are prime locales, and you can also find some near Winter Park along Berthoud Pass. Elk are even easier to spot throughout Rocky Mountain National Park and in town.

Learn More: Find the best places for sightseeing and wildlife viewing.

4. Sailing on Grand Lake

Aptly named, Grand Lake is renowned for its challenging winds and craggy views of Rocky Mountain National Park’s ranges. That makes it a longtime favorite for sailors. And since the lake sits at 8,366 feet above sea level (The Grand Lake Yacht Club is the world's highest registered yacht anchorage), you may never sail at a higher place.

Learn More: See more of the top spots for boating in Colorado.

5. Camping

Get reacquainted with the spirit of the outdoors by camping for a night or two (or a week) on one of Grand County's many public and private campgrounds. Options are extensive, but some of our favorites include the intimate St. Louis Creek Campground near Fraser, the scenic Arapaho Bay Campground on Lake Granby, and the Timber Creek Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Learn More: Discover more RV parks and campgrounds in Colorado.

6. Grand County Golf Courses

If you love golf, you'll love how your game improves in the thin air. At altitude, golf balls not only travel farther, but they spin less, too, making for straighter approach shots (in theory ... altitude does not seem to have an effect on a golfer's consistency!). Among the county's revered courses, you'll want to look into a tee time at the links-style Grand Elk Golf Club, the hidden gem Grand Lake Golf Course (a favorite among moose), the wickedly fun Pole Creek Golf Club in Tabernash, or the stunning Golf Granby Ranch.

Learn More: Get a hole-in-one at these Grand County golf courses.

7. Fourth of July Fireworks

There are plenty of reasons to feel patriotic on the Fourth of July in Grand County. Our national park system, quintessential American small towns with loads of charm and of course, fireworks! Set out a picnic blanket and watch the colorful displays over Grand LakeGranbyFraser and the cliffs outside Kremmling at the annual Fire Up the Cliffs celebration.

Learn More: Check out our upcoming events to add even more fun to your itinerary.

8. Trestle Bike Park

It doesn't matter if you are a serious gearhead or just interested in seeing the mountains in a new way — Winter Park's Trestle Bike Park is one of the best places to mountain bike in the region. Our pick? Take the top-to-bottom beginner trail Green World to the Boulevard. Or hone your skills with Granby Ranch's top-notch mountain biking program and multi-use bike park with some of the most respected professionals and instructors around. Devil's Thumb Ranch is also a fantastic choice for mountain biking. Explore 6,000 acres on a guided tour or find an open-meadow trail to your liking. Grand County allows you to try out the downhill, cross-country and family-focused mountain-biking trails that will satisfy beginner to expert bikers.

Learn More: Uncover more mountain-bike trails in Colorado.

9. Kayaking in Grand County

This small and oh-so-scenic lake at the foot of the Indian Peaks, southeast of Lake Granby is a great spot to paddle a canoe or kayak and cast a line for trout. On some days, your only competition for fish are the nesting ospreys.
If you're looking for a more fast-paced, expert-level water adventure, kayak the newly completed Gore Canyon Whitewater Park. The park is right where the Colorado emerges from the Gore Canyon and enters the meandering flats of the Pumphouse Recreation Area, directly between the top-two established put-in zones. With the stretch boasting year-round flows, the new site creates a park-and-play venue usable from early spring through fall.

10. Grand County Music Festivals

Coloradans love the outdoors more than anything. A close second? Jamming out to live music outdoors. This summer, join in the hip-swaying, foot-stomping fun with multiple concert festivals in Winter Park — like the renowned Winter Park Jazz Festival, the SolShine Music Festival, Blues from the Top Festival and more.

Learn More: Browse the Grand County events calendar to see more stages.

11. Lake Granby Fishing

With its open water, hidden coves and seemingly endless shoreline, Lake Granby is tailor-made for exploration. But it’s what lurks in the deep waters that has made it famous among fishers — lake trout, also known as "mackinaw." While these trout can reach monstrous sizes, anglers can also pursue kokanee salmon, rainbow and brown trout.

Learn More: Cast a line with confidence with this guide to fishing in Grand County.

12. Grand County Pontoon Boat Rentals

Gather your friends and family and spend some quality time on the water with a pontoon boat on Lake GranbyShadow Mountain Reservoir or Grand Lake. Days on end can be spent out on these lakes. Take a swim, enjoy the warm mountain sunshine and reconnect with friends in a distraction-free setting.

Learn More: Get in touch with Grand Lake Marina to schedule a day on the water.

13. Hot Air Balloon in Grand County

You can hot-air balloon almost anywhere. But when you take flight over Grand County — and see fog rising from the Fraser River, the crisp outline of the Continental Divide and dozens of serene lakes scattered like sapphires on the land — you'll know you chose the perfect place to do so.

Learn More: Get in touch with Grand Adventures Balloon Tours to book your balloon.

14. Backcountry Huts

Backcountry enthusiasts are spoiled for choices in Grand County. Sure, there is a national park and five wilderness areas to backpack through. But, there are also two backcountry huts to hike to — the High Lonesome Hut and the Broome Hut — just in case you'd like to experience the backcountry in nicer digs than a nylon tent.

Learn More: Craft the perfect adventure with these backcountry huts and yurts in Colorado.

15. Winter Park Alpine Slide

A summer vacation isn't complete without an adrenaline rush, right? Head to Winter Park Resort, where in summer — in addition to sublime mountain biking — you can race down the mountain on Colorado's longest and most thrilling alpine slide.

Learn More: Reserve your ticket for the Winter Park alpine slide.

Recreate Responsibly This Summer

While traversing trails, camping and boating the lakes in Grand County, be sure to follow Care for Colorado Leave No Trace Principles to maintain our ecosystems, stay safe and keep our natural spaces beautiful and peaceful for others. .

Discover More Grand Adventures

Looking for more things to do in Colorado when the weather warms up? Check out these resources: