If you haven’t experienced autumn in the mountains, trust us, you’re missing out! Every season up here offers its own unique beauty, but the changing of the aspens is perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring experiences you and your family can have together. We love how easily the vibrant trees lend themselves to beautiful photos and fond memories. That’s why we’ve hand-picked a list of our favorite scenic drives and destinations to watch this incredible phenomenon. Grab a latte and your camera, and hit the road. You’re in for an amazing day of leaf-watching.
Meadow Creek Reservoir (Map)
Driving above Devil’s Thumb gets you to this serene reservoir, surrounded by trees and wildlife. Picnic areas at this spot include fire pits, so you can make s’mores and hot chocolate while you relax and watch the leaves.
Devil’s Thumb (Map)
This destination is a wonderful place to walk around, or enjoy a beer by the bonfire as the sunsets. Even better, catch a sunset and see the alpenglow over the mountains over the trees.
Snow Mountain Ranch (Map)
The YMCA/Snow Mountain Ranch is just a short drive from Winter Park, nestled alongside Highway 40 in Granby. The ranch itself is a beautiful place to hang out, but it’s also the start to a number of hiking trails to get up close and personal with nature.
Columbine Lake Trail (Map) This fantastic and well-maintained hike takes you through the Indian Peaks wilderness. It’s a moderate hike, a gradual incline with a few scrambles, and the views are striking.
Trail Ridge (Map) Trail Ridge Road is the name for Highway 34, which traverses Rocky Mountain National Park, a picturesque setting to not only see the leaves, but for an incredible wildlife experience during the yearly Elk Rut. (More info on the elks here!)
Cottonwood Pass* (Map) A short drive from Hot Sulphur Springs, this is one of those routes you won’t soon forget. Deemed by many a “mountain wonderland,” this is the epitome of nature’s idyllic beauty.
Monarch Lake* (Map) The drive to the trailhead of Monarch Lake is incredibly scenic, running alongside the water through Grand Lake. You’ll love the feel of this well-maintained trail, with superb views of the trees changing all around you.
Bring your camera and come on up, hope to see you soon! If you are planning a leaf-spotting vacation in Colorado, click here take a peek at our 140+ modern vacation rentals in Winter Park .
Debs Bridge August 28th, 2015
So they say, an ounce of cure is worth a pound of prevention, and the best way to pack for your mountain stay is to come prepared. That doesn’t mean you have to pack an insanely full car, either! We’ve compiled a list of must-haves (and must-skips) to make sure you can pack light and enjoy your stay.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When you’re in Winter Park, follow the above advice for a fabulous fall mountain getaway!
Pack your bags and come on up, hope to see you soon! If you are planning your fall or winter vacation in Colorado, click here take a peek at our 140+ modern vacation rentals in Winter Park .
Debs Bridge August 28th, 2015
Tempting though it may be to chase after animals for that fantastic Instagram photo, the wildlife in Grand County can pose a serious risk to hikers and bikers. When provoked, an animal attack can be deadly, both to you and the animal, so if you’re lucky enough to spot one, please observe from a distance!
Here are a few tips for hikers who want to avoid hostile animal encounters in the wild.
So, what to do if you accidentally cross paths with a potentially dangerous animal? If avoidance doesn’t work, your next steps can save your life.
Moose: These guys can be unpredictable, and are perhaps the most dangerous of encounters you may have. They’re enormous, and faster than you. If you see a moose, wait patiently for it to move along, or slowly retreat the other way. If the moose appears agitated (ears back, lips smacking) it’s time to retreat. Get between two trees and wait for the moose to leave. If he charges, RUN. DO NOT STAND YOUR GROUND. More information on moose encounters here.
Bears: You may notice that locals differ in opinion on what to do if you encounter a bear. Most encounters with our county’s black bears will be peaceful and non-aggressive. Still, it’s best to avoid contact to prevent an attack. If you see them from afar, make some noise to alert them to your presence so they can retreat. Respect its space, and always give the bear an escape route. If the route isn’t clear, as a last resort you can try to “move” the bear by “getting big,” that is, lifting your jacket over your head and demanding that the bear “GET OUT OF HERE.” If the bear is acting aggressively (say, a mama bear defending her cubs), listen to her message. You’re too close and she wants you to leave, so the polite thing to do is comply. More information on bear encounters here.
Lions: If you see a mountain lion, she has already seen you (so they say). Take this encounter very seriously. It’s time to create some distance, backing away while facing the lion. “Get big” with your jacket, and speak slowly, firmly and loudly to let this predator know that you’re a big guy too. If the lion lunges, fight back by any means possible. Protect your neck and throat, and use whatever tools you have on hand to fend off the lion. More information on lion encounters here.
Now, hopefully we haven’t scared you! Animal encounters are rare, but it’s best to be prepared just in case. Sometimes on a quiet evening, you get the chance to see a fox or an elk walk through your back yard, and there’s truly nothing better than watching them from a distance.
We hope to see you soon! If you are planning a summer hiking vacation in Colorado, click here take a peek at our 140+ modern vacation rentals in Winter Park .
Debs Bridge July 29th, 2015
Nothing ruins a vacation faster than one of your group becoming afflicted with a very preventable ailment, especially when it happens right at the beginning of the trip! The rules are a little different above 9,000 feet, so we’ve compiled a list to help you make the most of your mountain getaway.
To avoid altitude sickness, High Country Healthcare recommends the following:
If you notice a wet cough, or that any of your symptoms (headache, nausea) are not getting better, seek medical attention immediately. More information from the CDC.
Word of the day: Reapply! Make sure to consistently reapply sunscreen while you’re outside. More information on sun care from the CDC.
Before you hike, check the forecast and locations of shelters. If you can’t complete a hike before the storm, reschedule for another day.
If you’re already on the mountain and you notice a storm rolling in, do not wait until it’s raining to find shelter. Lightning can be present without rain! Find shelter, avoid open areas, and do not place yourself under the tallest object. If you’re in a group, spread out and run back to shelter or your vehicle. For more lightning safety tips, check out the National Weather Service Lightning Safety Page.
Thanks for reading! With a little knowledge and preparation, we know you’ll love your Winter Park trip. See you soon! If you are planning a summer hiking vacation in Colorado, click here take a peek at our 140+ modern vacation rentals in Winter Park .
Debs Bridge July 28th, 2015
We had a late start to our summer here in Winter Park, and May was particularly rainy at 3.74 inches (average May rainfall is 2.15 inches). Excess rain presents a dilemma in the early days of the season. On one hand, you have to be conscious of such things as lightning, and you must schedule your hikes with safety (and proper gear) in mind.
On the other hand, an abundance of rain has one the most beautiful results imaginable: a stunning array of wildflowers decorating the mountain landscape.
When we think of wildlife, it’s easy to gravitate toward animals. We stop sometimes to snap a photo of a moose or a fox, but in wildflowers we find a more subtle beauty, a quiet artistry that surrounds us, and doesn’t run away when we stop to take a picture.
We’ve been celebrating this year’s abundance with pictures on Instagram and Facebook, and this week we finally decided to take a hike with the sole purpose of photographing some flowers. These can be spotted all over the valley, though this particular set of photographs was taken at the top of Rollins Pass (if you decide to go there, make sure you have a four-wheel drive vehicle!).
Can you guess the names of each of these flowers? Answers below!
(Special thanks to Wildflowers of Colorado for helping us research each flower)
There are some truly fantastic hikes out there, and we absolutely encourage you to go out and snap some of your own photos. That said, remember to teach children not to pick them and to keep pets from trampling them! It’s important to stay on the trail to maintain the delicate ecosystem balance, and to keep our wildflowers coming back every year.
If you are planning a summer hiking vacation in Colorado, click here take a peek at our 140+ modern vacation rentals in Winter Park.
Debs Bridge July 27th, 2015
It is fair to say that when the snow starts flying, the big focus in Winter Park is the world class skiing to be had at Winter Park Resort. But we all need a day away from the slopes from time to time, and with so many other activities on offer, it would be a crying shame to go home without trying out at least a couple of the following.
Zip your way up to the Continental Divide and feel like you are on top of the world with Grand Adventures Snowmobile Tours. Take in incredible views of the Winter Park Ski Resort, Fraser Valley & the Front Range Mountains during this beginner friendly 2 hour tour. Perfect for the beginner to intermediate riders and families looking to experience Colorado’s backcountry on a snowmobile.
There’s something distinctly romantic about ice skating on a real pond as snowflakes fall around you. Winter Park has a variety of ice skating venues on offer at little or no cost to any would be Nancy Kerrigans out there.
If you’ve ever yearned to take a break from the high speed chase we call modern life and make a return to the more traditional values of good old fashioned ranchin’, it’s time you took a Feed Sleigh Ride at Cabin Creek Stables of Devil’s Thumb Ranch.
If you’ve ever longed to feel like Nanook and command your own sled of dogs, have we got the adventure for you. Winter Park Lodging Company has partnered with Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park to provide our guests with an exhilarating-once-in-a-life-time ride.
A favorite activity among locals and visitors, young and old, families and friends is snow tubing and sledding. Winter Park and the Fraser Valley has a variety of locations to choose from.
Snowshoeing is a great and inexpensive way to escape the crowds and enjoy the simple splendor of reconnecting with mother nature. Winter Park is home to a vast network of public trails that offer everything from an easy stroll along a sparkling creek bed, to a heart pumping hike to the high ground.
Click here for our Favorite trails for snowshoeing in the Winter Park Area.
A hot air balloon ride is a wonderful experience in all year round. Believe it or not, Wintertime is a great time to take flight aboard a hot air balloon ride. The temperature actually rises as you reach higher altitude, so while the rest of Winter Park is shivering away below, you’ll be feeling warm and toasty in your hot air balloon.
Join in the hot new craze on the mountain: skibiking, aka Frankenbiking! Believe it or not, skibiking is very easy to learn and a really fun way to get around the mountain. Winter Park Resort offers beginner and intermediate skibike lessons daily, and even offer night rides when the Sunspot Restaurant is operating.
Sometimes a day off should be just that. If you want to sit back, relax and give your body a little well deserved TLC check out the plethora of pamper palaces on offer in the winter park area. A forty minute drive west of Winter Park will find you at the town of Hot Sulphur Springs, and the historic Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa. Offering a full range of spa services, (including massage, body wraps and facials) and over 20 hot spring pools to choose from, the resort is a pure mecca of relaxation and natural wellness. A little closer to home is Devils Thumb Ranch, a true paradise of mountain beauty and charm, with a jaw droppingly beautiful spa that you’ll never want to leave.
Think ice-hockey minus the skates, pads and brawls. Broomball is a fun, free activity on offer at the Village Pond at Winter Park Resort.
Chris October 4th, 2013
The Winter Park & Fraser Valley (and nearby Rocky Mountain National Park) is a hot spot for migrating elk during their annual rut, and a fabulous place to witness the natural world up close & personal.
The elk (wapiti) is one of the largest species of the deer family, and one of the largest land mammals in North America. Elk range throughout the US in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark.
Adult elk usually stay in single-sex groups for most of the year with the exception being during their elaborate mating ritual known as the rut. The elk rut runs from late August through early November and is a spectacular display of strength , aggression, showmanship and courtship from this fascinating species.
In order to attract and keep a harem of cows by their side, a bull elk must put on a near continuous display of dominance and strength. To draw the attention of far off females, the bull elk will perform a bugle call into the air that be heard for miles, the louder the call, the more interested the cow will be. Bugling is most common early and late in the day and is one of the most distinctive sounds to be heard throughout the Winter Park & Fraser Valley in the fall.
If a bull crosses the threshold of another’s harem, it is considered a challenge by the residing bull. A theatrical battle of posturing, bellowing, strutting and pawing will ensue until one party backs down, or a they engage a fight using their antlers to wrestle. In the event that bulls do lock antlers, the fight tends to be short in duration, but incredibly physical and dangerous for both parties, often causing one, or both of the bulls to sustain serious injuries. For this reason, the bulls will spend many minutes trying to out-psyche their opponent before committing to a physical interaction (and it is this display that is most widely witnessed during the rut).
In the elk world, it seems a bulls’s work is never done. Having conquered his opponent, the winning bull must return to his harem and resume the task of out bugling and out battling any future opponents, or risk losing them to another suitor. Although the bull may appear at first glance to be the dominant party within the harem, it is the female who ultimately decides which harem she will be part of, and will not hesitate to leave if her bull fails to hold her interest. In the course of a single day, it is not uncommon for a bull to engage in multiple spars and courtship displays of bugling, thrashing and rounding up, mating with and guarding his harem.
Amid these incredible displays of nature is the ever enduring back drop of fall in the rocky mountains. Vibrant yellow aspen burn into brilliant blue skies, while the deep purple and orange hues of the willow offer protection and forage for the marauding elk herds. Photography enthusiasts will travel from all over the world to capture the action of the rut against the stunning vistas of the Rocky Mountains.
Although elk are frequently seen around the Winter Park area, our recommendation for viewing large herds of elk during the rut, is to take a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park (approximately 35 miles North of Winter Park). RMNP is home to many huge herds of elk, in addition to many other species of fascinating wildlife that are often more visual and active in the fall months (including moose, bear, deer, big cats, big horn sheep).
For further information on activities and events in the Winter Park area during the fall months, visit Winter Park Lodging Company, or call 877-329-1383.
Chris August 2nd, 2013
Sounds like a tall order I know, but we’re excited to give it a go. My friends (Ellie & Joe) are coming to visit this July 12th – 14th, and so for the sake of argument, we’ll use that particular weekend as our testing ground.
Day 1: Thursday 12th July
Activity 1: Yoga in Hideaway Park, 12 noon – 1 PM, FREE
Every Thursday, the Winter Park & Fraser Valley chamber of commerce puts on an hour long lunchtime yoga session, led by Mountain Moon Yoga. What better way for Ellie & Joe to stretch out those traveling aches and meet some of the friendly locals?
Activity 2: Walk the Fraser River Trail & return through Grand Park, FREE
The peaceful Fraser River Trail follows the meandering river to the town of Fraser and pops out by the Fishing Ponds near Safeway. When you get to Fraser, check out the Walk Through History Park and take a peek in the Kurtak Art Gallery & Winter Park Winery. To complete the loop and get back to Winter Park, add a little fun and play the frisbe disk golf course through Grand Park.
Activity 3: Dance the night away at High Note Thursday, FREE
A great way to end the day is to head to Hideaway Park and watch the sun set over the mountains, while enjoying live music care of High Note Thursday. Check out the High Note Thursday line up this summer.
Day 1 Budget Breakdown: Yoga + hike + gallery + frisbe golf + live music = $0.00
Activity 1: Mountain Biking, 20% discount on rentals, $22.40/bike/day
Explore more of the Winter Park & Fraser Valley under a little pedal power with a mountain bike rental from Epic Mountain Sports, where Winter Park lodging company guests get a 20% discount. With hundreds of free trails to choose from, ask the staff in Epic Mountain Sports for their recommendations based on your ability.
Activity 2: Friday Music At Winter Park Resort, FREE
There’s so much going on at Winter Park Resort, it’s really fun to just walk around The Village and take in all the action. Bands play at the outdoor Gazebo every Friday during the summer long Friday Music Series.
Activity 3: Music On The Mall, FREE
Cruise back to downtown Winter Parkand walk right across the street to Cooper Creek Square for yet more live entertainment at Music On The Mall.
Activity 1: Take a day trip to Grand Lake. Canoe rental, $20
It’s only a 45 minute drive from Winter Park to Grand Lake and well worth the effort. Top picks for things to do in Grand Lake are: hike around Monarch Lake (quintessential rocky mountain scenery), check out the stores along the board walk, and go for a canoe around one of the lakes. The dates of Ellie & Joe’s trip also happen to coincide with the Grand Lake Antique & Classic Boat Show, a free event where enthusiasts show off their prize possessions.
Back in Winter Park, the Eco Road Show (art, puppets, magicians & live music) is keeping the crowds entertained all day long in Cooper Creek Square. We’ll plan on heading back from Grand Lake in time to enjoy some of the show and also take advantage of a free horse-drawn carriage ride around the mall.
Activity 4: Happy Hour! FREE
As part of Ellie & Joe’s SolShine lodging special with Winter Park Lodging Company, they get a Happy Hour Voucher with their stay (worth two drinks & an appetizer) to enjoy at participating local restaurants.
SolShine Music Festival presents Quinn Sullivan & The Nevilles, live at Hideaway Park. This free concert at Winter Park’s favorite outdoor venue is a perfect way to end three day thrifty trip.
Day 3 Budget Breakdown:
hike + canoe + boat show + eco show + carriage ride + happy hour + the nevilles & quinn sullivan = $20
Chris July 1st, 2013
Posted In: About Us, Best of, Deals, Deals & Discounts, Helpful hints, hiking, Local Info, Mountain Biking, Music, Our favorites, special events, Summer Events, Uncategorized, Winter Park Events, Winter Park Music Festivals, Winter Park Summer activities
The third hike of theweek is here. This week we are headed over the Granby and Grand Lake way to Strawberry Lake. The lake got it’s name from mineral deposits that make the water look a bit strawberry colored.
Length: One-Way Mileage- 1.55 Miles
Elevation: Trailhead: 8280’ Highest Point: 9189’
Trailhead Location: From the Winter Park Visitor Center continue north on US Hwy 40 through the town of Granby. You will see an exit for US Hwy 34 towards Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park On US Hwy 34, between Granby and Grand Lake, between mile markers 5 and 6, turn east on CR 6. Follow this road for 7.6 miles. Park on the left at the pullout. The trailhead is on the right.
Trail Information: The trailhead is located across the street from the pullout. The beginning of the hike you are going to be gaining elevation crossing Strawberry creek several times. You will notice that the creek is a reddish color from mineral deposits. Follow the creek to a fork that will have a trail marker which identifies the High Lonesome Trail, Strawberry Bench and Indian Peaks Wilderness to the left and the Caribou Trail to the Right. Strawberry Bench is the flat meadow straight ahead with Strawberry Lake barely visible in the meadow. Follow the trail to the left (east) and cross the creek, where there is a faint fork on the right. Turn right at the fork and head into the woods. The trail meanders into the meadow before you get to the lake.
Get out of the house and come have some fun in Winter Park, Colorado. Looking for some lodging to get out of the heat and crowds? Winter Park Lodging Company summer lodging is affordable, comfortable and well appointed. Get on up to the hills.
Chris June 16th, 2010
Posted In: hiking
The trailhead of one of the most popular hiking trails in the Winter Park area, the St. Louis Lake trail, has very restricted access. The trail is known as one of the most beautiful wildflower hikes you can find in our valley, and due to this celebrity, it draws thousands of hikers each summer (or it used to).
About four or five years ago, the Sulpher Ranger district of the Arapaho National Forest decided that because of the extremely heavy traffic on the trail, it would be best for the health of the trail and surrounding forest to keep the the gate closed except for on three days of the summer.
The gate blocks the 3.1-mile road leading up to the St. Louis Lake trailhead. You can still hike the trail anytime of the summer, but you will have to hike up and back on the stretch of road that leads to the trailhead. You can also ride your bike on the road, as long as you leave it once you reach the trailhead that crosses into the Byer’s Peak Wilderness area.
The total round-trip distance including the road is about 14 miles. Not including the road, the distance is less than 8 miles round trip.
Announcing the dates that the St. Louis Lake Trailhead gate will be open this summer:
More Winter Park hiking trails and tips to come throughout the summer. Stay tuned!
Chris June 8th, 2010