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Driving around Winter Park is the summer months is a breeze, and a wonderful way to take in the scenery, while exploring more of the local area. Although there are more than enough activities and events to keep you occupied in Winter Park, if you are keen to take a day trip to some of the region’s other highlights, we’d highly recommend you check out following day trip destinations.
Grand Lake & Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Lake & the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park lies approximately 35 miles north west of Winter Park, and a scenic 45 minute drive away. The town of Grand Lake is a thriving resort community during the summer season, with many on & off water activities on offer, and a good selection of restaurants and shops around to keep you well fed and pick up some good Colorado mementos. Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning example of America’s mountain wilderness with endless hiking opportunities, a full program of ranger led talks and activities, and an unbelievably scenic, high alpine drive that offers endless photo opportunities.
The Colorado River & Hot Sulphur Springs
If you would like to experience the rugged canyons of Colorado, we’d highly recommend you try a raft trip on the Upper Colorado River, and then stop off at Hot Sulphur Springs Resort on the way home. Rafting the upper Colorado River is a peaceful ride through high desert terrain that contrasts nicely with the high alpine terrain you have been enjoying in Winter Park. Most raft companies are based in Kremmling (approximately 45 niles/ 1 hour from Winter Park) and shuttle their guests from town, down to the flowing waters of the Colorado River. Break up the drive back to Winter Park, with a stop at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa, that sits above Byers Canyon (approximately 30 miles from Winter Park). Hot Sulphur Springs offers more than 20 bathing pools, a summer outdoor pool and a full range of massage therapies.
Georgetown Loop Railroad
If you have some young (and old) train buffs in your party, a summer ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad is well worth a short drive. Georgetown is located 10 miles west of the Winter Park exit on I-70, and about a 45 minute drive from Winter Park via Berthoud Pass. This historic town was built during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush era and was nick-named the ‘Silver Queen of Colorado’ thanks to its good fortune in mining. The town itself offers a pleasant stroll through history with the acclaimed ‘Hotel de Paris‘ museum, and self guided walking tours through the towns 19th centuary architecture . The Georgetown Loop Railroad, takes families on a step back in time during a 1 hour roundtrip aboard an old time locomotive on railroad that was built in 1884. The loop takes you from Georgetown to Silver Plume, just 3.1 miles west, but up 640 ft and across 2 bridges on a 3 foot narrow gauge railroad. Top Tip: get your camera at the ready for massive Devil’s Gate High Bridge where you’ll see stunning views of clear creek canyon below.
Idaho Springs Gold Mine Tours
Similar to Georgetown, Idaho Springs was founded in 1859 during the early days of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. Prized with being the site of the first substantial gold discovery in Colorado, the town Idaho Springs grew rapidly as opportunists flocked to the location. The Argo Gold Mine was the largest mine in the area and is now a historic site that offers tours though Argo & Double Eagle gold mine where you will see live demonstrations of the crushing, millings & rock drilling process and a walk through the mill to view the historic equipment and tools used by minors in the 1800’s. At the end of the tour, there is an opportunity to try a little gold panning for yourself , and keep anything you find! If you want to visit a gold mine that is still operating today, check out the Phoenix Mine (also in Idaho Springs), which is operated by the oldest, continuous gold mining family in Colorado.
Steamboat Springs is approximately 100 miles north west of Winter Park, but a beautiful drive and well worth a visit if you would like to check out another mountain resort during your Winter Park vacation. Although widely regarded as winter destination, Steamboat Springs was originally founded as a summer resort thanks to its many natural hot springs, rich ranching and rodeo history, and plentiful fishing and hunting. Nowadays, a day trip to steamboat spells a chance to visit some of the best hot springs in Colorado (our favorite is Strawberry Park Hot Springs), a little tubing the Yampa River which flows right through town, and some great shopping at the many high end shops and restaurants of Old Town. If you want to stay a little for a few days, check out our vacation rentals in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.