Grand County, CO: The premiere family fun destination

Home to a cluster of diverse tiny towns about two hours out of Denver, Grand County offers adventure-seeking families endless thrills. Photo: Matt Payne

GRAND COUNTY, CO, August 20, 2013 – Whether you want to explore Rocky Mountain National Park or to plummet 40 feet from a cliff into the slow rolling Colorado River, Grand County in Colorado may be the place.

Home to a tight cluster of diverse tiny towns about two hours out of Denver, Grand County offers adventure-seeking families activities ranging from downhill mountain bike riding to leisurely kayak rides across Grand Lake.

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During their stay, visitors have a choice of interesting and diverse accommodations ranging from yurts to luxury lodges,  along with a strong selection of dining opportunities all geared for a great family getaway.

Rafting the Colorado River

The Mad Adventures float trip on the Upper Colorado River, just outside Kremmling in Grand County, is a pleasant one. Rapids get no higher than a mild class two with just enough bubble and churn to make you feel like you’ve done something exciting. The water is still cold and refreshing despite the cold late summer mornings.

The Colorado River

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Your guide will not only point out natural curiosities along the way, but will discuss the history of various homesteads and ghost towns. And while the smaller rapids may be less thrilling to those craving a more intense adventure, fear not.

Just before the half-day trip comes to an end, there is what the guides refer to as a “jumping rock,” where rafters can scamper up a 40-foot cliff then plunge into the crisp rolling water.

Visit Grand Lake

The town of Grand Lake sits along the bank of a lake by the same name and is a short drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The park, whch rises as high as 14,000 feet , is located off of Highway 34 and habors more than 350 miles of trails. Hikers get spectacular views and multiple opportunities to view wildlife ranging from herds of elk to marmot high on the mountaintops.  

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Multiple visitor centers and picnic spots  make the park an excellent destination for those who want to enjoy the park at a more relaxed pace while kicking back and enjoying the fresh mountain air.  

Rocky Mountain National Park

Another way to appreciate Grand Lake is from the water.  Try an early morning Kayaking adventure around the lake. This peaceful paddle offers stunning views of both the town and the mountains. It also a great opportunity to see moose, deer and fox.

On Grand Lake’s Main Street, families can enjoy a game of miniature golf, browse the gift stores and try any number of outstanding restaurants.  At the Sagebrush Barbeque and Grill kids will love tossing peanut shells on the floor and parents will enjoy the broad menu ranging from old-fashioned barbeque to rocky mountain oysters.  

Downhill Mountain Biking and Adventure in Winter Park

The most exciting way to experience Winter Park is by way of a downhill mountain bike ride. After renting gear and a bike then taking a brief tutorial from Trestle Bike Park, you’re off.

With several places to stop and rest, many trails are manageable for novices. Even the easiest trails offer burms and jumps for the more skilled.  It is a fast hour down the mountain that can take longer if you stop to enjoy the views and ever-changing mountain landscape.

Once down, explore Winter Park and enjoy any number of its many activities. Check out Colorado’s longest Alpine Slide, or the Human Gyroscope (aka aerotrim), where guests literally spin around inconceivably fast for more than a minute. There is also miniature golf, a maze, and a variety of other activities to suit the needs of those less concerned about moving at high speeds.

Stay in a Yurt at The YMCA of the Rockies

Yurts at the YMCA of the Rockies

Yurts have become one of the most interesting types of sleeping accommodations and there’s no better place to experience them in Colorado than at The YMCA of the Rockies just outside Granby.

Yurts are somewhere between a traditional camping tent and a full hotel room. Yurts are made up of canvas walls and are round, elevated on a platform, and have a domed ceiling.  

The lack of heat and extremely minimal power as well as the sounds of the wilderness through the thin canvas walls create the feeling of camping ,while the comfortable bed, solid floor and furniture make you feel like you’re not quite so removed from civilization.

Fly fishing at Devil’s Thumb Ranch

Devil’s Thumb Ranch is a high-end, upscale lodge located ten minutes outside Winter Park. The ranch is an environmentally friendly resort that allows guests to be as relaxed and pampered as they want to be while simultaneously offering family friendly adventures ranging from guided fly fishing trips to zip lining.

Guests there have access to some of Colorado’s most pristine trout fishing.  Informative and friendly guides take care of the minutia of tying tippet and leaders allowing you to simply cast your fly until you catch something.

Once on the line, the guides aid in landing the fish ensuring nobody goes home skunked.  

 How to get there:

Grand County is roughly a two-hour drive from Denver. Take Interstate 70-E roughly 30 miles to US 40N.

 Where to stay: 

 The Yurts at Snowy Mountain Ranch

1101 County Road 53

Granby, Colorado 80446



Winter Park

Vintage Resort Hotel

100 Winter Park Drive

Winter Park, CO 80482

(970) 726-8801


Winter Park Mountain Lodge

81699 US Highway 40

Winter Park, CO 80482



Western Riviera

419 Garfield Street,

(970) 627-3580

Grand Lake, CO 80447


Grand Lake Lodge

Grand Lake

15500 US Highway 34

Grand Lake, CO 80447

Phone: Toll Free: (855) 585-0004


Devil’s Thumb Resort and Spa

3530 County Highway 83  

Tabernash, CO 80478

(970) 726-5632

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Matt Payne

Matt Payne has lived and worked as both a television writer and producer in Los Angeles for nearly ten years.  Matt grew up in Oklahoma City and began his career with a degree in Film and Video Studies from the University of Oklahoma.  Since then, he has worked as part of writing staffs for such hits as 24 andWithout A Trace. Most recently Matt wrote and produced episodes of CBS’s The Defenders starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell and Memphis Beat, starring Jason Lee, which is set to air on TNT in August of 2011.

In addition to a successful television-writing career, Matt has developed features with major production companies and continues to work as a freelance script analyst for Relativity Media, the production company behind such hits as The Fighter, Zombieland, and Catfish where he has provided script feed back on nearly a thousand features.

When he is not writing and producing television, Matt works as contributor to the Washington Times Communities Travel section, where he has writing skills have taken him from the top of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar to the jungles of the Philippine Islands.  New York City’s finest restaurants to the earthquake ravaged Port au Prince Haiti. 

Matt was the winner of the 2004 Comedy writing award for Scriptapolooza, a finalist for the Warner Brothers Television Writer’s workshop, and is an active participant in Los Angeles’s Young Storytellers Program.  

Early in his career, Matt spent two years working as an assistant the Endeavor, which is now part of WME, the second largest talent agency in the world, working closely with such talent as Christian Bale and Michael Douglass.

Matt  is a member of  the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actor’s Guild.

Contact Matt Payne


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