Colorado 2012 – Grand Lake, Part 1

We’ve already reported on our Friday morning hike. We returned to the campground for a late breakfast. Bill and Jamie were long gone. We packed up and pulled out shortly after noon. We took our time driving the Trail Ridge Road up to the top and down the other side. If there was space for our rig we’d pull off and enjoy the views and stretch our legs.


Driving Trail Ridge Road

Grand Lake is a town and a lake. The lake is the largest natural lake in Colorado. It was formed thousands of years ago by glacial action. It is almost 256 feet deep. It is surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park.


Grand Lake

Chris talked to a fishing guide. He has never seen the water this warm. They pull fish up from 120 feet. He didn’t think they could survive being pulled up from much deeper.  South of Grand Lake is Shadow Mountain Lake. It was built in 1944-46 and is only 35 feet deep. Water flows from it into Grand Lake where there is a giant tunnel that takes water to Lake Estes on the front range and then down to farmers for irrigation. The park service fought this and other water stealing projects and lost them all. Our campsite is located on the southern shore of the lake.


Saturday we went moose hunting. They are not native to Colorado and have been introduced. There is an occasional one on the east side of the park but most of them are over here on the west side. We drove up to Coyote Valley Trailhead and took a 1 mile hike through willows (their favorite habitat) and then followed the Colorado River for awhile looking for them. Then we went back to the Holzwarth ranch, searching the river and brush in front of it. No luck at either spot. So we went down to Grand Lake and had a very late brunch at the Fat Cat Café. There were two tables outdoors in front and we managed to snag one of them. It was a beautiful day. We caught the ambiance of the town just sitting there. After breakfast we toured the town and did a little shopping. Despite its initial appearance of catering to tourists, Grand Lake has a wonderful library, community center and pavilion with a large grassy area in front for gatherings.


By mid afternoon it was getting warm so we returned to the campground to air out the Airstream. Then it was late afternoon and we headed back through town to the East Inlet of Grand Lake. We hiked up the stream to Adams Falls and took some photos. Chris brought along his fishing gear, but didn’t locate a good place to cast his line.


From there we headed north to the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, located at the entrance to the park on this west side. The valley is named the  Kawuneeche Valley, an Arapaho word for coyote  We talked to a ranger about fishing, hiking and where to find moose. A fellow there had pictures he had just taken of moose at the Beavers Pond picnic area so we headed up there. Upon arrival we saw three moose grazing in the distance. No way to get closer. Chris turned around and found a buck deer about 10 feet away chewing on something in a fire pit. Other passersby saw him and started to swarm the area, scaring him off. On the way back to Grand Lake, Melinda spotted a moose feeding a good distance from the road. Surreptitiously, so as to not draw attention to the other moose hunters, we pulled off on an unmarked road and got to within 100 feet of her. She was reaching up to get leaves out of the highest branches of a willow. As soon as we were in position she decided it was time for a nap and lay down in the brush.  No photo op there. Chris tried his hand in the nearby Colorado River and caught the smallest fish in the state. No picture there either.

We decided to check out a couple of RV parks for possible future stays. Neither of them were very nice. On the way out of the last one we spotted a moose cow with a calf right next to the road. It would be the perfect shot. By the time Melinda got out of the truck they abruptly decided to take off. Not much luck on the moose hunting this day.

We returned to the campground and built our first really good fire, enjoying it for the entire evening.


From the shores of Grand Lake,

Airstream Travelers,

Chris and Melinda


About AirstreamTravelers

A 2016 Pendleton Airstream suits our lifestyle perfectly. It's a commemorative edition celebrating the 100th anniversary of our national parks. In our efforts to see as many of those parks as we can, the two of us are now spending several months each year on the road. We hope our posts and accompanying photos give a vivid description of where we travel, illustrating to our followers what's out there, just over the next horizon.
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