The Towns of Winter Park and Fraser, located in Grand County, Colorado, are situated in a high mountain park at elevations of 9,000 ft. and 8,800 ft. respectively. The valley is surrounded by the Arapaho National Forest and three Wilderness areas: Indian Peaks, Byers Peak and Vasquez. Approximately 75% of the land in Grand County is publicly owned. 17,000 acres of public land is owned by the City of Denver Water Board. Nearby Rocky Mountain National Park sets aside 265,727 acres of natural land and wildlife habitat for the public to enjoy.
Tourism in the main source of industry in eastern Grand County (referred to as the Fraser Valley), while ranching and agriculture are the primary industry in western Grand County. The population of Grand County Colorado is approximately 12,000 in the whole county, and is dispersed through the rural areas and its six incorporated towns. Primary access to the Fraser Valley is via Highway 40 over Berthoud Pass, which reaches an elevation of 11,315 ft.
The Town of Winter Park (pop. 720) is 7.5 square miles, including the base village of Winter Park Resort. The town and ski area have long been popular with Denver Metro residents, though the region is quickly becoming a four-season vacation destination. Fraser (pop. 732) is 6 square miles and is the more service-oriented of the two towns, with a grocery store, elementary school, library, town hall and drug store. Both towns are characteristic of season resort towns. The Fraser Valley is only 90 minutes northwest of Denver, 90 minutes from Summit County and two hours from the Vail Valley.
The Fraser Valley is rich in heritage, ranging from the Ute Indians, logging and pioneers, to mining, ranching and the railroad. The area was inhabited by both the Ute and Arapaho Indian Tribes and was discovered by pioneers around 1820. The first settlers arrived around 1850, and the first post office was established in Fraser in 1876, which is now Cozen's Ranch Museum.
David Moffat pioneered the building of a transcontinental railroad line from Denver to the West Coast. Tracks over the top of Rollins Pass were completed in 1905 and used steadily until 1928 when the 6.2 mile Moffat Tunnel was opened. The railroad provided the impetus for another industry in Grand County, logging. While the railroad was pushing west there was a tremendous need for timber. The logging industry flourished in the early 20th Century, helping provide valuable raw materials to Denver, a booming city on the border of the Western frontier. Although the first ski hills in Grand County were built in Hot Sulphur Springs in 1911, the railroad helped the ski industry flourish, especially Winter Park Ski Area, which opened in 1940. Today, Amtrak comes through the valley twice daily, providing guests a unique way to come enjoy the mountains.
We have some wonderful wildlife as neighbors, including elk, moose, deer, fox, raccoons and porcupines. Predators, such as bears, mountain lions and coyotes, make this their home as well, and you should be prepared to know what to do should you encounter them (the US Forest Service office in Granby, 970.887.4100, has information).
Climate & Ecology
Three ecological zones exist in the Fraser Valley: Montane, Sub-Alpine and Alpine. Their characteristics include sagebrush, willows, aspen, and lodgepole pine at lower elevations; mosses, lichens and pines above tree-line. Because of our high altitude and cold temperatures, winter tends to be long, but these characteristics give us some of the best powder skiing in the United States! We have some wonderful wildlife as neighbors, including elk, moose, deer, raccoons and porcupines. Predators, such as bears, mountain lions and coyotes, make this their home as well, and you should be prepared to know what to do should you encounter them ( the US Forest Service office in Granby, 970.887.4100, has information).
Average High Temperature: 54° F / 12° C
Average Low Temperature: 14°F / -10° C
Average Annual Rainfall: 27in. / 69cm.
Average Annual Snowfall: 231in. / 587cm.
Average Annual Sunny Days: 250
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