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The Fraser Valley is one of the most well-known areas of the region, if not also the state. The Fraser River is one of the most prominent headwaters of the Colorado River and is often cited as an endangered or threatened river by American Rivers and other organizations. The Valley contains the towns of Winter Park, Fraser, and Tabernash. It is also known for Winter Park Ski Resort, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort, and access to some of the most recognizable and enjoyable recreational public lands in the state along the Continental Divide and within Arapaho National Forest. Roughly a third of Grand County’s population lives within the Fraser Valley, with the population expanding greatly during popular vacation times, in the summer to enjoy the bounty of hiking and mountain biking opportunities, and in the winter to experience the world-class ski slopes and trails.
This area includes the towns of Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs, which is the county seat. Granby has its own unique history as the junction between US 40, which crosses through the county from Berthoud Pass to Rabbit Ears Pass in the northwest part of the county, and US 34, which goes through the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Approximately a third of the county’s population lives in this area. This area also includes the Williams Fork Valley, which is south of Hot Sulphur Springs. Most of the conservation easements in this area are on agricultural operations, including vegetable crops, hay production for livestock, and livestock ranching.
The Lake Region is the northeast part of the county and includes the town of Grand Lake, which is the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park along US 34, which begins in Granby. This area is identified by the three popular lakes: Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, and Lake Granby. Grand Lake is the largest natural body of water in the state and is generally regarded as the headwaters of the Colorado River (although the river technically begins farther north, within Rocky Mountain National Park). Shadow Mountain Reservoir is a continuation of Grand Lake, separated by a dam. Water from Shadow Mountain Reservoir is stored and routed through the Adams Tunnel to provide water to the Front Range as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Lake Granby is also a reservoir, completed in 1950, as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Visitors to the region can also access wilderness and recreational areas of the Arapaho National Forest, including the Neversummer Wilderness and the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Western Grand County includes the towns of Parshall and Kremmling; approximately a third of the county’s population lives in this area. This region is predominantly ranchlands; some of the conservation easements in this area are on ranches owned by fourth and fifth-generation ranchers. Kremmling has a thriving local community, and functions as a bedroom community for both Steamboat Springs to the north (Routt County) and various towns to the south (Summit County). It also has the confluence of many headwater tributaries of the Colorado River, including Muddy Creek, Troublesome Creek, Williams Fork, and the Blue River. Wolford Mountain Reservoir and Williams Fork Reservoir are in this area; both reservoirs store water and the Williams Fork Reservoir also provides hydroelectricity for many in the region and downstream.
A remote but very scenic part of the county, the northwest corner is best known for Rabbit Ears Pass and as an access to Steamboat Springs. This area is primarily agricultural, with most landowners ranching livestock, or recreational public lands, including hunting on both the Arapaho and Routt national forests.