Grand County Web Articles

If you rafts with us on the Upper Colorado River, you might want to know what else there is to do in the area. Check out this article, to learn about some of the other activities available in the area.

Top 10 Things to Do in Grand County

Grand County, Colorado is well known as the home to Winter Park Resort ski area and attracts skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts from all over.

But it’s a great place to visit in the summer as well, with outdoor activities to appeal to all kinds of adventurers. Here are 10 of our favorites that might help you get started with ideas for your Grand County vacation.

10. Climb a rock.

If you enjoy mountaineering and rock climbing, you’ll find yourself in heaven among the jagged peaks found throughout Grand County on national forest land and in Rocky Mountain National Park. Visit the Park’s website for more information on climbing and mountaineering there.

9.  Ride a horse. 

Take a trail ride for just an hour or so or go for the whole day. There are a number of stables that offer horse rentals for all levels and ages. Or fully immerse yourself into the ranching experience at one of Grand County’s family-friendly dude or guest ranches, such as the CLazy U Ranch north of Granby, for a vacation you’ll never forget.

8.  See a moose.  

Actually, you’ll probably see several, along with deer, elk, coyotes, and all kinds of other wildlife that are abundant in our forests and in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can even stay among them at the YMCA of the Rockies – Snow Mountain Ranch. Just remember that no matter how peaceful they look, they are still wild animals and you need to keep a good distance between them and the spot where you’re standing.

7.  Go for a bike ride.  

With more than 600 miles of marked, mapped, and user-friendly mountain bike trails ranging from gentle to steep in Winter Park alone, Grand County is a mecca for the cycling enthusiast and for the whole family. For riders who prefer to hit the road, paved highways spoke out in all directions to provide you with the just the ride you’re looking for. Bring your own bike or rent from a number of shops in the area. The Winter Park and Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce is a great resource for locations and ideas for rides.

6.  Cast a line.

Grand County offers 1,000 miles of streams and rivers, 1,000 acres of mountain lakes, and 15,000 acres of reservoirs for fishing, especially for mackinaw and kokanee salmon and for rainbow, brook, German brown, and cutthroat trout. If you’re a beginner or are looking for some guidance, here at Rocky Mountain Adventures we can provide equipment rental, instruction, and a guide who would love to help you catch “the big one.”

5.  Hit the links.

Four world-class golf courses offer 9 and 18 holes of play in spectacular settings with a variety of amenities depending on the course. You’ll find one in Grand Lake, two in Granby, and the fourth in Winter Park. Visit Golf Grand County for more information on these courses. For a family twist on the game, try playing the disc golf course outside Grand Lake at the Winding River Resort.

4.  Ride the alpine slide.

Take a summertime ride down the mountain on Colorado’s longest alpine slide at the Winter Park Resort. An 11-minute chairlift ride takes you up, then you’ll fly down on a plastic alpine slide equipped with rollers and brakes. Visit the resort’s website for more information on the slide and other fun summer activities.

3.  Play on the water.

Whether you like the speed of a power boat or Jet Ski or prefer the tranquility of a wind-powered sailboat or human-powered canoe, the lakes and reservoirs of Grand County offer opportunities for both at Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Lake, Grand Lake, and Williams Fork Reservoir. Bring your own craft or rent one here. The Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce offers lots of information on the marina, boat rentals, and more.

2.  Take a hike.

Trails at all levels of difficulty abound in Grand County. If your family is looking for a leisurely walk to view fields of wildflowers or if you prefer to head into the backcountry for an overnight or two, you’ll find the hike that’s just right for you. You can get some ideas in the Winter Park Guest Guide.

1.  Go whitewater rafting with Mad Adventures!

Our family-friendly trips on the upper Colorado River that can accommodate children as young as four for a half-day, full-day, or two or three days will definitely be something to write home about. Learn more about our Upper Colorado River rafting adventure or our other whitewater rafting trips for the full spectrum of rafting adventures with Mad Adventures.

And those are just our 10 favorites. We’d love to provide you with more, but after thinking of all those great adventures, we have to get outside and play. See you there!

Thanks to for the inspiration for this article. Visit their website for more information on things to do while you’re on vacation in Grand County.

RMA Pigeon Story

Upon arrival to Rocky Mountain Adventures you might notice a pigeon coup in the back yard. Those birds are not only pets, but also working members of the RMA family. These little guys transport your pictures from the river on digital cards. Check out the story for more information!

Whitewater Rafting is for the Birds
The Pigeon Express™ makes Poudre Canyon float trips even more memorable

Digital cameras have made capturing and sharing photos of outdoor adventures easy.

But it’s still just plain hard to take a good picture while you’re rafting down the whitewater of the Poudre River northwest of Fort Collins.

So when you book your trip through Rocky Mountain Adventures, they do the picture-taking for you. On-site photographers position themselves at good vantage points during your river run and capture the action. When you return to RMA headquarters, your glossy photos are displayed brightly on the wall, ready for purchase.

We do live in the age of advanced technology, but, seriously – how do photo files come 30 miles from the backcountry, where there is no cell phone service and no Internet, and end up printed and looking pretty long before their rafting subjects arrive?

The answer is pigeons.

Rocky Mountain Adventures’ Pigeon Express™ delivery system uses homing pigeons wearing tiny backpacks to transport 35 mm film or digital memory sticks from the river back to the RMA headquarters.

The secret is in the pigeons’ innate ability to find their home, a comfy pigeon loft in the back yard of the RMA headquarters resembling a narrow version of a country garden shed, from miles away.

Rocky Mountain Adventures owner and head pigeon keeper David Costlow came up with the idea to use pigeons nearly 15 years ago while trying to solve his photo-developing dilemma. He had a great photographer but they were unable to get the photos developed by the time the rafters were finished. They brainstormed ideas, and when the photographer said, “We need something that can fly like an eagle,” Costlow instantly thought “bird.” That quickly evolved into “pigeon.”

Through research, Costlow found a professional pigeon racer in Greeley, who introduced him to a breeder in Fort Collins. Between the two, he got pigeon chicks and plenty of advice on feeding, training, and general pigeon care.

Now the Rocky Mountain Adventures Pigeon Express flock numbers 23, most of which were born in the RMA loft. They look similar to park-dwelling pigeons that can drive urbanites crazy, but up-close they appear well taken care of, with smooth feathers and bright eyes.

While the birds home instinctively, these instincts need to be honed through training. Costlow starts by taking a trainee pigeon out into the RMA parking lot and letting it go. When it eventually flies back into the loft, it gets a food reward. After a week or so of that repeated exercise, he takes the pigeon a little farther away and lets it fly back home. The process continues moving progressively farther from the loft until the birds are efficient flying home from the photo shoot locations.

Then the trainees practice wearing a backpack, Costlow’s invention of a lightweight harness made of Lycra® and Velcro®. It’s so small it doesn’t impede the birds as they fly but it’s durable enough to securely hold a digital camera memory stick or a roll of 35 mm film.

Once the birds are ready to work, the photographer takes as many as he or she will need to deliver undeveloped rafting photos back to headquarters. The pigeon caretaker puts on the backpack of each flyer for that day back at the loft and packs the birds in a comfortable basket.

When the photographer is ready for a run, he or she will take a bird from the basket, slip the full memory stick into the small pocket on the backpack, and set the bird free. The pigeon arrives back at headquarters about half an hour later. A signal given by an electric eye in the loft announces the bird’s arrival through the one-way pigeon gate and the caretaker goes out to remove the backpack and process the photos. The pigeon spends the rest of the day with its mate and other members of the flock and rafters are greeted by photos of their adventure posted on the wall.

Rocky Mountain Adventures is open year-round at the corner of U.S. Highway 287 and Shields St. in northwest Fort Collins and runs raft trips from May through September. The pigeons are always ready to meet visitors and invite you to stop by.