by Emily Baker
You know when you've been looking forward to something for a long time, and hyping it up in your mind, only to be disappointed when that something finally arrives? That was not at all the case for our trip to Grand Lake, CO this Labor Day Weekend. I had been looking forward to this trip since probably April and we had a great time.
Grand Lake is a quaint old mining town deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Located about 45 minutes passed Winter Park (coming from Denver) Grand Lake serves as the westernmost gateway of Rock Mountain National Park. The town itself consists of one major street packed with restaurants, bars, and shops for an assortment of goods. Some of our favorites are Sagebrush Bar & Grill, Never Summer Mountain Products, and of course the classic and historic Lariat Saloon. The store fronts lining main street are a virtual outdoor museum, many of which are surviving from original construction. In fact, some stores still have hitching posts out front where cowboys tied their horses.
The town sits on the edge of Grand Lake, formerly named Spirit Lake by the Native Americans who once inhabited its shores. The derivation of the name Spirit Lake comes from the early morning mist that can be seen rising from the waters, thought to have been the ghosts of the Ute ancestors that perished in a tragedy on the lake long ago. Today, there are numerous marinas for boats and jetskis, including Grand Lake Marina, where we rented a pontoon boat one morning on our trip.
Being located so close to the Rocky Mountains, Grand Lake is also a great location for hikers. Seen above is one of the earlier stops on the Adams Falls hike, the trailhead for which is just a three minute drive outside of Grand Lake. The first stop on the hike (featured below), after just 0.3 miles is Adams Falls. Another .5 a miles or so and you can reach this meadow- an ideal spot for fishers. Continuing much further along the trail are campgrounds and a ghost town. Spotted along the trail were the remnants of equine travelers, making it a great place for a mountain trail ride.
All in all it was a beautiful and fun filled trip to Grand Lake. Of course, no Equestrienne destination is complete without some equine activities. If the old west history isn't enough for you, just outside of Grand is Sombrero Stables Snow Mountain Ranch- currently the Grand Lake stables is closed. Sombrero features one of my favorite trail rides that we did every year when I was a kid: the breakfast trail ride. If you are willing to wake up bright and early you can join the 8:00AM breakfast trail ride in which you ride out to a beautiful dining location. Once there, Sombrero cooks you a cowboy breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, and hot coffee. After filling up and enjoying the scenery you ride your steed back home. Truly a unique and unforgettable experience!