Itinerary: Five Day Colorado Summer Trip

A woman is petting a horse.

There may still be traces of snow on the highest peaks of the surrounding Rocky Mountains, but the meadows are in full bloom, the trails are cleared, and the lakes are sparkling…and it’s all waiting for you this summer in Grand County. Just 67 miles from the Denver metropolitan area, Grand County has the perfect five-day summer or fall getaway that can introduce you to the best of the Rockies.

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.

  • 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.
    • Along the way, you'll get a preview of the fun to come, passing Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, and Lake Granby. 
    • End with a spectacular view of the rugged Upper Gore Canyon. 
  • Relax

Day 2: 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.

  • Pioneer Village Museum (Hot Sulphur Springs) – On the site, 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. 
  • Horseback ride – For a true hands-on western experience, contact one of the local outfitters who offer half- and full-day horseback rides.
  • Rodeo – On Saturdays during the summer, the traditional cowboy skills of roping, barrel racing, and bull riding come alive at Fraser’s High-Country Stampede Rodeo and Granby’s Flying Heels Arena.

Day 3: Outdoor Adventure

You’ve got some choices to make!

More than 600 miles of trails for hikers and bikers of all abilities and interests. Think about:

Day 4: 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 visited, less crowded, and much quieter.

  • Kawuneeche Visitor Center – Just a short drive from the town of Grand Lake, enter the Park at the center for an unforgettable drive through pine meadows, up rugged slopes, and out into the open alpine highlands. 
  • Hiking trails, picnic areas, scenic overlooks, and wildlife
  • Grand Lake – End the day back in town with a stroll along the boardwalk for some last-minute shopping and a leisurely lunch or dinner.

Day 5: Get Wet

Grand County offers the best in both stream and lake fishing, set among some of the most spectacular scenery around.

  • The Williams Fork and Wolford Mountain Reservoirs and the five lakes and reservoirs that make up the Arapaho National Recreation Area offer outstanding fishing for rainbow, mackinaw, brown, cutthroat, and brook trout as well as kokanee salmon. 
  • The 20-mile stretch of Colorado River downstream from Granby have been designated a “Gold Medal” trout stream; the Fraser River and other smaller streams offer equally superb fly fishing.
  •  All of this water also makes for some great boating: launch your party boat or windsurfer in one of the lakes, hook up with one of several local guides to experience the thrill of Colorado River whitewater, or bring a kayak or canoe and design your own tour.