The afternoon thunderstorm built slowly, starting as a gray cloud cover as my family and I stepped aboard the tour boat for our immersive lesson on Grand Lake. Soon, a soft drizzle settled in as Captain Rick motored us around the lake’s edge, telling tales about the many impressive vacation homes and antique boats, and about Grand Lake’s history. The Ute called it Spirit Lake. Later, white settlers built a stagecoach supply station here that became the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Today, it’s often referred to as one of the most beautiful towns in the country.
“The firefighters saved us,” said Meg Milligan, the manager at Grand Lake Lodge, a 101-year-old property on an exposed ridge above town, when I asked how the cabins and lodge had been spared. Indeed, on the driveway to the lodge, you pass a line of charred trees. Meg also told me about the “thank-you” banquet and fundraiser they threw for the firefighters in the lodge’s famous dining room, with its views of the village and lake below… read more >