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Grand Lake Review

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
43 posts
6 reviews
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Grand Lake Review

I'm hesitant to post too much about Grand Lake because one of the best things about it is that it is so, so, so quiet. But, because these forums turned us on to Grand Lake, I wanted to post a quick review.

Our young family stayed in Grand Lake for 3 nights. Rented a cabin on VRBO with a view of the lake. Grand Lake is stunning. It may be our favorite CO destination now.

Town:

Cute, but very quiet, main street. Very walkable. A few nice shops and restaurants. Locals sent us to Sagebrush, which was great! There is a great park in the middle of town. Our favorite spot was the Grand Lake beach and snack bar for ice cream. I would say this is a great, low key family destination. But a younger, hipper group would much prefer Breck or other more hopping places.

RMNP:

Good access to RMNP, but if you want to focus on the east side of the park (which is the most popular side), I do think Grand Lake may be a bit too far for most. This is why Estes is so much more popular. We day tripped to the east side of RMNP for one day, taking a long drive across Trail Ridge Road, which was just enough for us. When we got to Bear Lake Road, we were told it was a 2 hour wait for the shuttle. So, we turned around and enjoyed less popular spots of the park, including Hidden Valley area. Nice visitor center for kids there. On two other days, we hiked the west side. Adams Falls (very short, easy hike) and Cascade Falls (more challenging, long 7 mile hike) were beautiful hikes. Our 9, 5, and 2 year old (in a back pack) made both hikes just fine, but they are pretty outdoorsy kiddos. Adams Falls is a can't miss easy hike for almost anyone. Cascade Falls is a good 5 hours for a young family. Also, kids completed the Jr. Ranger program, which they loved!

Lodging

We loved our cabin. And I'm not sure there is a more scenic place in Colorado. One note of caution: we did lots of lodging research before our trip. The lodging in Grand Lake is pretty limited, and pricier than I expected. Almost comparable to Estes. A lot of the cabins in the area that are run by local companies seemed dated in the pics. We don't mind dated if the price is right. But we considered them to be quite expensive for the quality. We found much better deals with private cabins/homes. As we drove through the area, we saw lots of the locally run cabins that we had seen online, and it confirmed we made the right choice in finding our own private cabin. However, a lot of the hotels/lodges looked very nice online and also looked great in person. Western Riveria, Grand Lake Lodge, look great! But those were booked when we looked. In sum, the quality of lodging in Estes is better for a comparable price, so if you choose Grand Lake do your research to make sure you are getting something you will be happy with. It takes just a bit of extra work.

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Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
2,934 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Bear Lake
Bear Lake
1,416 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Colorado
Colorado
United States
Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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11,743 posts
134 reviews
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1. Re: Grand Lake Review

I am glad you enjoyed Grand Lake and RMNP. There are already several trip reports in the Top Questions over to your right so do not think you let the cat out of the bag.

I often suggest that people planning a longer visit to RMNP split their time between Grand Lake and Estes Park. As you pointed out, it is not easy to visit the more dramatic and popular east side from Grand Lake as it is at least a 90 minute trip over Trail Ridge Road one way. Then again, the quiet and less crowded west side of RMNP is a nice reprieve.

Like you, I have found Grand Lake lodging rather pricey for what you get. Estes Park has many more lodging options and more modern lodging options. I feel for the businesses in Grand Lake. Their "busy" season is so short and they are heavily dependent on Trail Ridge Road being open. In order to make ends meet in Grand Lake, you must make a substantial up front capital investment out of your own pocket. That accounts for the high prices in relation to the product offered. I will add to your comments that Gateway Inn is a more modern place to stay in Grand Lake.

Mentioned in this post
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
2,934 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Kansas
Level Contributor
150 posts
122 reviews
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2. Re: Grand Lake Review

Glad you had a great time in Grand Lake. We prefer it over Estes since its more quiet. But the RMNP offers great hikes on both sides. I agree the lodging is expensive but at least in cabins you can make your own meals so that helps.

We usually stay for about 3-4 nights and have found some reasonable lodging a little outside of Grand Lake like Soda Springs Ranch or near there. Check out VRBO. Sorry you missed the Bear Lake hikes, its a great trailhead for some gorgeous hikes. Sometimes we try to hit it extra early in the morning for smaller crowds.

Mentioned in this post
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Bear Lake
Bear Lake
1,416 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Cork, Ireland
Level Contributor
2,803 posts
258 reviews
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3. Re: Grand Lake Review

Great report, Grand Lake sounds lovely. We are staying in Estes Park for three nights in early September but we have decided to drive the TRR over to Grand Lake to have a look round for a few hours on one of our days. Sounds like we have made a good choice!

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Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Evanston, Illinois
Level Contributor
6 posts
3 reviews
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4. Re: Grand Lake Review

Thanks for the great review - we are driving there tomorrow - could you please share where have you stayed, we didn't make any reservations yet. Thanks a lot!

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
Level Contributor
11,743 posts
134 reviews
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5. Re: Grand Lake Review

Boris080, saj300 and greenseeds both went through vrbo.

vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/…grand-lake

It may be tough to get last minute reservations for Grand Lake through vrbo or any other source.

You can check the chamber site.

http://grandlakechamber.com/lodging/

I have stayed at Gateway Inn and family has stayed at Grand Escape Cottages. The Cottages are a little small and parking for some of them is awkward.

Reviews for Grand Lake lodging here on TA may help you. Note the different categories of lodging.

tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g33451-Grand_Lake_Gra…

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Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
6. Re: Grand Lake Review

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