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Photo Credit: © 2019 James Frank

Grand Lake

Ideas for Day or Overnight Trips to Grand Lake

Grand Lake for an Evening Hike

Many folks hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, especially around Bear Lake, but a west side favorite place to hike on a summer evening is the East Inlet Trail.

Along the trail there are a variety of ecosystems, from aspen, sagebrush, lodgepole pine, as well as the wonderful wet meadows just a half mile above Adams Falls.

Often the largest bull moose you’ll see all year are in this area.  So think about taking an afternoon drive across Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake for a nice dinner and then hike in the cool evening air on the East Inlet Trail.  A Timed Entry Permit to the “rest of the Park” is required to drive over Trail Ridge Road before 2pm.

There is something amazing about driving over Trail Ridge Road back to Estes Park after twilight and seeing the city lights of the Front Range show up as you head down from the tundra.  Sometimes a herd of elk may welcome you back while out for their evening dinner.

Grand Lake for Sunday Brunch

Set out from Estes Park to explore Old Fall River Road which meets up with Trail Ridge Road at the Alpine Visitor Center.  Old Fall River Road is a 15 mph one-way (up) gravel road with steep switchbacks and beautiful views – a fun road adventure.

Near the top you will often see elk grazing in the high summer meadow.

A Timed Entry Permit for the “rest of the Park” is required between 9am and 2pm.

The view from the Alpine Visitor Center – or for a real-time look at the weather at 12,000 ft, use this link to the Park webcam installed there.

Heading down the west side of Trail Ridge Road, stop for a quick break at Lake Irene, but today, instead of a picnic, you’ll keep going down the hill to a delicious brunch.

The Grand Lake Lodge on the National Register for Historic Places sits on a hill overlooking Grand Lake, Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake.

Their motto is “Colorado’s favorite front porch”, and it’s easy to see why.  The spectacular view of Grand Lake from the screened dining room balcony is the same as from the front porch.



Imagine sunbathing by the Grand Lake Lodge pool in the clear mountain air!

The Sunday brunch is served from 10am to 2pm, plenty of time for a quick tour of downtown Grand Lake before heading home to Estes Park over Trail Ridge Road.   A timed entry permit to drive over Trail Ridge Road is not required after 2pm.