Top 10 Things to Knock Off Your Bucket List in the New Year
Why settle for ordinary when there are unforgettable adventures to be had? From snowshoeing in the moonlight and standup paddle boarding on the Colorado River to hot-air balloon riding above the tree line, Grand County has enough thrilling experiences to last a lifetime. Here’s our bucket list of adventures that visitors to the county should experience this year.
1. Go Dog Sledding
Looking for a unique way to explore Grand County’s winter landscapes? Go for a dog sled ride. Snow Mountain Ranch - YMCA of the Rockies in Granby and Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park both have professional mushers and teams of huskies that are ready to bring you on a thrilling ride along scenic trails on their beautiful properties. And afterward, you can even pet and play with the dogs.
2. Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Under the Light of the Full Moon
For a new perspective on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, go at night during a full moon. The moonlight reflecting off the snow-covered meadows is surprisingly bright and creates an almost otherworldly feeling. The Grand Lake Nordic Center hosts full moon ski tours complete with a bonfire, marshmallows and hot chocolate throughout the winter, and the Pole Creek Golf Course in Tabernash offers moonlight ski/snowshoe treks on Saturdays closest to the full moon all winter long.
3. See the Rockies Spring to Life from a Hot Air Balloon
Hot air ballooning is bucket list-worthy any time of year, but going for a ride in Grand County in the spring is especially special. You’ll feel like you’re getting two seasons for the price of one when you see the snow-covered mountain peaks in the distance and the valley turning green and teeming with life below. Grand Adventures Balloon Tours lifts off from Fraser and offers sweeping views of Winter Park, the Fraser Valley and beyond, including the Continental Divide and Rocky Mountain National Park.
4. Paddle the Headwaters of the Colorado River
Want to try a new twist on whitewater rafting? Try stand up paddle boarding on the Upper Colorado River through Little Gore Canyon. AVA’s Colorado Rafting operates 5-mile paddles starting from Kremmling. You can stand up or kneel as you navigate the Class I (and a few Class II-III) rapids, or you can float down the river the classic way in a raft or kayak.
5. Ride the Slopes (On Two Wheels)
After the snow melts, Grand County’s ski slopes transform into top-notch downhill mountain bike courses. Winter Park Resort becomes Trestle Bike Park and Ski Granby Ranch becomes Bike Granby Ranch. They’re both part of Mountain Bike Capital USA™ and every biker should experience the thrill of riding these trails this year.
6. Take in 360° Views of Grand County
For another mountain adventure and perhaps the best views in Grand County, climb Byers Peak. The 3-plus mile hike to the top ascends 2,500 feet, but your efforts will be rewarded with a view spanning the entire county. Where else can you see the Williams Fork Mountains, Vasquez Mountains, the Never Summer Range, Indian Peaks, Rocky Mountain National Park, Williams Fork Range and the Gore Range all from one place?
7. Ride a Horse at an Authentic Dude Ranch
Riding a horse at a dude ranch is one of the iconic Western experiences, and Grand County is home to some of the best ranches in the country. To embrace your inner cowgirl or cowboy, check out C Lazy U Ranch or Drowsy Water Ranch in Granby or Latigo Ranch in Kremmling and learn how to ride a horse cowboy-style.
8. Experience the Fall Elk Rut
If you never experienced the fall elk rut or don’t know that that is, you’re missing out on wildlife at its most awesome. From mid-September through mid-October, male elks bugle and butt heads as they battle for the attention of the females in a mating ritual for the ages. The best place to experience it on our side of Rocky Mountain National Park is in the Kawuneeche Valley. Stop by the visitor center there to find out exactly where the elk have been seen rutting this year.
9. See Fall Colors from the Highest Continuous Auto Road in the United States
For another iconic Rocky Mountain National Park experience, drive the park’s Trail Ridge Road from Grand Lake to Estes Park. You’ll pass through the golden aspen-filled Kawuneeche Valley before winding your way to a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet. Along the way, pull offs like Farview Curve and Medicine Bow Curve offer panoramic views of the park in all its autumnal beauty.
10. Warm Up the Winter in Natural Hot Springs
When winter comes to Grand County, there’s one place that refuses to cool down: Hot Sulphur Springs Resort. With 21 mineral-rich pools and private baths, the resort is home to one of the largest natural hot springs in the country. After you soothe your muscles in the tubs, head to the resort’s spa to relax even further with a massage treatment. While it’s bucket list-worthy all year round, it’s particularly satisfying in the snowy season.