As the sun starts to melt last night's snowfall, cross-country skis gently glide over the freshly groomed trails of Grand Lake Nordic Center. The peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapahoe National Forest rise in the distance, with shifting views and perspectives as guests make their way through different trails. Newcomers can take a lesson in cross country skiing or snowshoeing while more advanced outdoorsmen tackle the snow enclaves of Randall's Romp or Spirits Haunt. The nearby lodge offers steaming bowls of soup, while children can take a tumble down the tubing hill or play rock-paper-scissors with a Yeti.
A rundown wooden wagon sits alone in the rough at Grand Elk Golf Club, a historic reminder of the forebears who once forged through the basin now home to the club’s 18-hole course. Though electric golf carts have since replaced Conestoga wagons as the predominant means of transportation, the site’s natural, rustic surroundings remain, treating golfers to a 360-degree panorama that showcases the Continental Divide and Rocky Mountain State Park. As players notch divots into lush fairways and putt on the soft greens with modified pool cues, they’ll follow a 7,144-yard layout drawn up by 13-time PGA Tour champion Craig Stadler and Tripp Davis. Taking inspiration from the inland courses of the British Isles, the design duo strung fairways through meadows and natural wetlands that form the headwaters of the Colorado River, all the while incorporating unique playing scenarios that challenge each golfer’s shot-making abilities.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 7,144 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 72.2 from the back tees * Course slope of 135 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
Stretching across 6,609 yards of verdant, tree-lined grounds, Eagle Trace Golf Club offers a challenging but fair course for links-loopers of all abilities. Tickle the sweet-spot of your driver to send dimpled spheroids into the stratosphere and through the grassy midsection of the course’s kempt fairways, evading on-course impediments including five lakes, 65 sand traps, and 12 disoriented jurors known for claiming wayward orbs. With majestic, native cottonwood trees peppered against a peeper-pleasing backdrop of Rocky Mountain vistas, the par 72 course’s scenic surrounds temper more trying elements such as the slick bent-grass greens that make for hard-to-read putts and fine-print chips. An obedient golf cart is included to help duos track down slices and snap-hooks while preserving their energy for tearing divots and smashing wedges.
Framed by the peaks of the Flatirons to the south and the Rocky Mountain foothills to the west, Lake Valley Golf Club's 18-hole, links-style course winds through scenic terrain for a visually dynamic round of golf. On the front nine, golfers navigate frequent elevation changes that permit views of the area's many natural sights. The back nine presents a distinct layout as it curves through marshland dotted with ponds and populated by birds and other native wildlife. A private course, Lake Valley typically lets golfers complete their round in less than four hours.
The club's practice facilities include a driving range, a 70-yard short-game practice area, and a large putting green. Golfers may want to warm up before the round, as the course does not lend itself to slow starters?the third hole is the course's signature track and most difficult, showcasing a 460-yard par four with a challenging double-dogleg. After the round, golfers can retire to the Persimmon Grill and enjoy a drink and eat seasonal, gourmet, grill fare.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 70 course * Length of 6,891 yards from the tips * Course rating of 72.5 from the tips * Slope rating of 135 from the tips * Six tee options * Scorecard and course tour
Haystack Mountain Golf Course bears many features that remind players of the history of the land beneath their golf spikes, a history that stretches way back before a tee ever pierced it. An original 1850s settlers' shack still stands on the 240-acre plot, as does an early 1900s horse barn?which today stores golf equipment now that horses have been replaced by golf carts. And then of course there's Left Hand Creek and Haystack Mountain itself, home to the Arapahoe tribe and hardscrabble settlers in the 19th century.
Today, golfers enjoy those same pristine views of Haystack Mountain and the Flatirons as they play the nine-hole, links-style layout. Left Hand Creek bifurcates the course and comes into play on four holes. A scant 2,153 yards with a par of 32, the course is a scenic place for beginners to take up the game and for their more seasoned counterparts to work on their touch on the greens.
Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 32 course * Total length of 2,153 yards from the back tees * Two sets of tees per hole * View the scorecard