Itinerary: Three Day Colorado Summer Trip

A woman kayaking on a lake with mountains in the background.

Colorado’s high country has a lot of territory to cover. But even if you don’t have much time, a Grand County three-day summer or fall getaway can introduce you to the best of the Rocky Mountains.

Day 1: Arrival at Altitude

If you’ve arrived from the lowlands, be smart and take a day to acclimate while getting an introduction to the area. Remember to drink plenty of water and take it easy—you are on vacation, after all.

Use your first day to take a drive on the Colorado Headwaters Scenic and Historic Byway. Begin on U.S. Highway 34 in Grand Lake. Follow the Colorado River south for 80 miles, through the towns of Granby, Hot Sulphur Springs, Parshall and Kremmling.

Just a short drive from the town of Grand Lake, Kawuneeche Visitor Center is located just past the entrance to the park. Here, you'll find an unforgettable drive through pine meadows, up rugged slopes, and out into the open alpine highlands. Shadow Mountain Reservoir, and Lake Granby. End with a spectacular view of the rugged Upper Gore Canyon.

After your day of exploration, visit the Pioneer Village Museum in Hot Sulphur Springs – See the town's original courthouse, a blacksmith shop, a 150-year-old ranch house, and several antique rail cars. Other local historical sites and museums are open for visitors in Fraser, Grand Lake, and Kremmling. Use the evening to relax at Hot Sulphur Springs Resort. Kick back with a soak in the ancient area hot springs, and enjoy your beautiful surroundings.

Day 2: Rocky Mountain Memories

The Rockies are what it’s all about up here!  Although Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the top 10 most visited national parks in the United States, its Western side is less frequented, less crowded, and much quieter.

Plan ahead and pack a picnic. With 35 trailheads in the park and several picnic spots, your family can spend all day in the wilderness, getting up close and personal with the wildlife.

Looking for a family-friendly excursion? Go on a hunt for the secret places in Rocky Mountain National Park, which includes hidden lakes, hiking trails, and abandoned mining towns. 

If you're looking to camp in or near the park, take a look at our favorites, stay between RMNP and Grand Lake at Elk Creek Campground, or view the National Park Service's campgrounds page. 

When you’re heading back into Grand Lake, take a stroll along the boardwalk for some last-minute shopping and a leisurely dinner, visit the Kauffmann House Museum to learn more about the area's history, and make sure to take advantage of the water recreation on Grand Lake. 

Day 3: The Western Experience

First settled in the 1880s as a ranching, farming and lumber center, Grand County has maintained many of its original buildings and sites as museums. Use the day to get the full western experience!

If you’re lucky to be here during rodeo season, come on down to experience the traditional cowboy skills like roping, barrel racing, and bull riding. Watch the West come alive on Saturdays during the summer at Fraser’s High-Country Stampede Rodeo and Granby’s Flying Heels Rodeo. Continue your western experience with a horseback ride into the sunset. For a true hands-on western experience, contact one of the local outfitters who offer half- and full-day horseback rides.

More of a thrill-seeker than a history buff? No problem! Grand County is home to over 600 miles of hiking and biking trails. Visit Winter Park or Fraser to take advantage these elaborate trail systems and bike parks. Reach new heights with a challenging mountain trail or stay in town on a family-friendly route, the choice is up to you! While you're in Winter Park, satisfy your wild side at with an indoor rock climbing or aerial park challenge at Adventure Quest.  

After your three days come to a close, you’ll already want to plan your next trip back to the area—there’s so much more adventure to be had in Grand County!