To fully comprehend John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” head to Grand County in Colorado and stay in a Beaver Village Condo in Winter Park. The circular leaves of white trunked Aspens dancing in the wind like sequins on an exotic dress is mesmerizing from balcony seats. Golf at Grand Elk Ranch and Club next to federally protected wetlands and realize that altitude takes adjusting. Drink plenty of water and you might not run to your ball as fast. If you see clouds rolling in, don’t worry. Golf Director Mike Ritter says, “We’re in a donut hole, the weather looks like it’s coming but goes around us.” It is the only Craig Stadler designed course in Colorado.
Granby Ranch Golf Course is like free grazing on the open range along the Frazer River valley. A long train whistles as it chugs by the second fairway and antelope often roam on number seven. White tropical pelicans with black-tipped wings fly over the course, seeming so out of place. Their long yellow beaks resemble storks’ while their bodies look like swans on the water. The back nine climbs up to higher elevation but not quite up to the ski slopes where many trade jobs from the golf courses in the winter.
At Pole Creek Golf Club, a family of red foxes greeted us on the entrance road. Rated the number one mountain course in Colorado, 27 holes enable a nice pace of play. The Ridge, the Meadow and the Range nines meander through woods, around ponds and babbling brooks. It’s good golf all around in Grand County and afterwards an extensive water network includes Colorado’s largest natural lake, 1,000 miles of streams, 1,000 acres of high-mountain lakes and 11,000 acres of reservoirs. Boat, paddle or fish until your heart’s content.
Hernado’s Pizza in Winter Park is a favorite among locals and tourists as evidenced by the dollar bills covering the walls and ceiling. Brickhouse 40 in Granby, the next town over, has a delightful, eclectic menu to satisfy all. Dine on trout at the historic Grand Lodge overlooking Grand Lake and shop the boutiques along the shore town. You might continue driving through Rocky Mountain National Park to Estes Park to enjoy the snowcapped scenic twists and turns.
67 miles west of Denver, discover the alpine scenery filled with wildflowers and natural snow-melt waterfalls. There is no need to buy expensive clubs that promise more distance. At these elevations, you will experience 10 to 15% more carry. Now that is a Rocky Mountain High.