A small town that grew around Colorado's largest natural body of water, Grand Lake is the only western gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Denver is a two-hour drive away by motorhome rental from Grand Lake, making you feel you are in the heart of the mountains when you come to visit this charming lakeside town sitting at more than 8,300 feet above sea level.
The town of Grand Lake had its start as an outfitting and supply point for Lulu City, now a ghost town but a booming silver mining settlement in the late 19th century. Over time, Grand Lake became a destination in its own right: Today, quaint cabins and summer homes line the lake’s shores. Book an RV in Grand Lake and you’ll find the western entrance to the RMNP is just a short drive away.
Discover the Wild Surprises of Rocky Mountain National Park
Find the best Grand Lake RV rental by owner and experience Colorado's largest and deepest alpine lake. The most opportune time to take to the water is in the morning, when the lake is as flat as a sheet of glass, making kayaking, rental boating, and paddle boating a breeze. The lake has sandy beaches, which provide a wonderful place to let the children play in the warm sand or simply soak up the lakeside scene. There are designated swimming areas if you are adventurous enough to float in the frigid waters.
Grand Lake bills itself as the "Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado". Hundreds of miles of trails that cyclists and ATV riders use in summer become thick with snow in winter and are therefore ideal for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. You can even snowmobile right down Main Street in winter.
Naturally, all roads lead to Rocky Mountain National Park when you arrive with your travel trailer rental in Grand Lake. But with more than 265,000 acres to get lost in, where do you go? That, of course, depends on what you came here for. Wildlife abounds in some areas, so if you're keen to see elk and moose (frequent), or black bear and bobcat (rare) while breaking a serious sweat, a five-mile (one-way) hike up Baker Gulch (with about 2,500 feet in elevation gain) on your way to Parika Lake will prove worth your effort.
Or you can put your camper rental in Grand Lake to good use on a drive over the Continental Divide. From Grand Lake, the Trail Ridge Road – paved in its entirety – connects you to Estes Park, one of the eastern entrances to the RMNP. Sweeping views of the valleys and crags await you on this two-hour drive while still rewarding you with common sightings of moose, marmots, and bighorn sheep.
Where to Park Your RV
Given its lakeside location right outside the Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake makes it easy for visitors with campers and trailers to find centrally located motorhome sites. In fact, a few of the closest campgrounds are within a 15-minute drive of Main Street. Get close to the action and consider staying at either Elk Creek Campground and RV Park, Winding River Resort, or Green Ridge Campground. A few other options are available in Granby about 15 miles away. It’s far from the RMNP entrance, but the town has an enormous market for your grocery needs. You don’t have to leave town for fuel though as there are a few gas stations in Grand Lake.
Elk Creek Campground welcomes Grand Lake RV rentals with full hookup sites with up to 50 amp service. There are also water and electric only sites, restrooms and showers, and a dump station. Moose, elk, and deer are regularly sighted, so it’s worth looking into if waking up to wildlife is on your list. Winding River Resort has full hookup sites, showers and restrooms, and a camp store. Horseback riding, fishing, and haystack rides are popular activities here.
Part of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, the Green Ridge Campground offers non-electric RV sites, with drinking water available. There are flush toilets and a dump station, and firewood sold on site. With the campground by the shore of the Shadow Mountain Lake, you can also enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing. Cast a line out for salmon and trout.
The Walmart stores in Longmont and Loveland are the closest to Grand Lake if you have just gone down the Trail Ridge Road and exited at Estes Park. Check with the store manager if you can park overnight so you can leave your Grand Lake RV rental by day and explore the town.
Small Town, Grand Views
Grand Lake has none of the big-name brands you might find in a tourist town. Perhaps because of its seclusion, Grand Lake retains an old-fashioned charm that often evaporates when a town sits right next to a popular national park. Soak up the town's laidback character or browse the art galleries and locally owned restaurants and shops on a stroll down the boardwalk.
See what life was like in the late 19th century at Kauffman House Museum. The structure is typical of log architecture before 1900 when people moved west in search of land open to homestead. Step inside for a close look at turn-of-the-century clothing, furniture, and iron kitchen ware.
Removed from big cities it may be, Grand Lake nonetheless has a decent share of BBQ and grill fare, with a few Italian and Mexican options thrown in the mix. There's also American comfort food and casual dining options. If you want to tuck into a good meal after a day out in the wild, a few fine dining venues, with views to match, are available.
Grand Lake is one of Colorado’s hidden gems, and worth venturing this far out for its postcard quaintness alone. As the town says to entice visitors, “you need a new bucket list”. So go ahead. Search for the best RV rental in Grand Lake, CO, today, and “go grand.”