Grand County, Colorado - My happy place

2021  |  Grand County, Colorado

Since I was a kid, I've been frequenting Grand County, and especially the Fraser Valley and the Grand Lake Area. and I'm shocked when I realize I've been coming up here for 30+ years. Where has the time gone. A long time ago, I'd enjoy skiing with my parents and friends when Winter Park was a smallish, convenient drive up from Denver. Now, my own kids think of our little condo as a home-away-from-home. Talk of selling the place and relocating to southern Colorado was met with much angst, so we tabled that talk for now.

Grand County covers 18,868 square miles, and is best recognized by the resort towns of Winter Park and Grand Lake. Established in 1874 and named after the Grand River (now known as the Colorado River), Grand County offers outdoor activities for every age, including hiking (everywhere), skiing (downhill and cross-country), fishing (big rivers, mountain streams, lakes), and biking (Winter Park is the proclaimed biking capital of Colorado). Art festivals, great food, and starry nights await visitors, as well.

Of course, my business is photography, so I'm always on the lookout for different takes on beautiful landscapes of the Rocky Mountains. One of the boundaries for Grand County runs along the Continental Divide Trail high atop Berthoud Pass. The drive, then hike to the top of this pass, offers exhilarating views in all directions. I especially like to awaken well before dawn, make the short drive from Winter Park up the pass, followed by a short grunt up the switchbacks to take in a beautiful (and sometimes windy) sunrise. Sometimes I end up well above tree-line. Sometimes I hike up the eastern slope of Berthoud Pass, following some of the small streams to quiet moments.

Current Creek Sunrise 705-1

From just under 12,000’, this view shows Current Creek in the valley below as the sun’s first light spreads across the landscape near atop Berthoud Pass.

The boundary line along the CDT runs north, crossing beautiful and rugged terrain. One of the places I visit every few years is King Lake. In the summer, tough little sunflowers called "Old Man of the Mountain" bloom on the steep slopes of the often ice-filled lake.

King Lake Sunflower Sunrise Panorama 703-1

Old Man of the Mountain (not me) grace the slopes around King Lake atop Rollins Pass near the resort town of Winter Park. The trek up here is a 15 mile drive down a bumpy 4WD dirt road, then a short hike along the Continental Divide Trail. These sunflowers bloom in late June and early July and add a splash of color to an amazing landscape high atop the Rocky Mountains.

This panorama is available in larger and custom sizes.

The county line continues north along the CDT through Rocky Mountain National Park, and the main town - and jumping off point - into RMNP is Grand Lake. This little resort village boasts hiking, biking, and water sports, as well as a nice main strip full of shopping and dining options. Again, mornings are my favorite time here. The streets are quiet, most tourists are still asleep, and the waters of Grand Lake, are often calm.

Grand Lake Sleepy Morning 1

The town of Grand Lake is still asleep just before a 5:30am sunrise on a late June morning.

Grand Lake before Sunrise 626-1

Morning clouds light up in blue and pink and orange as the first light of sunrise spreads across Grand Lake in the town of Grand Lake, Colorado.

From Grand Lake, Highway 34 runs north through RMNP or south back to the town of Granby. From there, Highway 40 heads west through Hot Sulphur Springs, Byers Canyon, Parshall, and onto Kremmling. Turning east from the intersection of 34 and 40 follows Highway 40 back through Granby, Tabernash, Fraser, and Winter Park. I've written a lot already on Winter Park in previous posts and blogs, so I'll leave one final image of this little town - taken early one morning when the world was still asleep.

Summer Morning in Winter Park, Colorado 1

Morning light comes to Winter Park, Colorado on a beautiful summer morning. Highway 40 cuts through this little resort town. In this photograph, Parry Peak, a local 13er along the Continental Divide, stands tallest. On the right, the ski runs are visible in their carpet of summer grass.

For now, I'm just counting the days until my family and I can return to the mountains and breathe in the pine-scented fresh air!

Safe Travels, everyone!

~ Rob

From a lofty view overlooking the town of Winter Park, Colorado, this landscape photograph shows the bustling resort village...
Winter Park Summer Afternoon 625-1

From a lofty view overlooking the town of Winter Park, Colorado, this landscape photograph shows the bustling resort village with the trails of the Winter Park Ski Resort in the distance. The commercial area of Winter Park is booming, and new businesses seem to be popping up all along Highway 40.

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