There is little disagreement that the mountains of Colorado in the summertime are one of the most beautiful places on earth. Colorado summers are dry, clear, and warm, with chilly nights that may require a sweater. The insects are not a problem, as they are in other parts of the country, and while the days can get quite warm, the humidity level is so low, that the weather is always comfortable. The mountains of Colorado, while jagged and sometimes still showing snow in mid-summer, are covered with wildflowers and summer birds from their bases up to the tops of the above-timberline peaks. The raw beauty of the state is simply breathtaking.
There is one little-known place among the jagged peaks of the Collegiate range in central Colorado. The wide Arkansas Valley runs along the base of the Collegiate range, where giant 14,000 foot peaks jut above the valley with such names as Mount Harvard, Mount Princeton, and Mount Yale. These majestic mountains are imposing, almost intimidating, and they always have at least a small amount of snow at the very tops of their summits. Yet if one drives out of the small town of Buena Vista, a picturesque town right on the Arkansas River, and follows the winding road which leads to the top of Cottonwood pass (and the Continental Divide), there between the bases of Mount Princeton and Mount Yale is a tiny group of cottages known as Rainbow Lake Resort.
Rainbow Lake Resort is a group of eighteen red-painted cottages nestled on the shore of clear, beautiful Rainbow Lake. The lake is fed by Cottonwood creek, a tumbling creek that flows from the heart of the mountains, just up the pass. It is full of both rainbow and brown trout, and the fishing is always good. At the edge of the lake, right on the water, is the main building is the office and a small store. There, visitors can find a few tourist items, canned goods, and of course, fishing necessities. This is also where visitors can rent a boat to use on the lake. The front porch of the main building is lined with hummingbird feeders which are always full of about twenty hummingbirds buzzing busily around.
Each cottage is different and is equipped with beds, living room furniture, a full kitchen and a bathroom. The cottages vary in size and several of them have fireplaces. While there is electricity, there are no televisions and no phones. The main building has a phone in case of emergencies, but the cottages are blissfully phone-free.
After a day of fishing on the edge of the lake or rowing a boat out to the center of the lake, many visitors will enjoy the multitude of hiking trails around Rainbow Lake Resort. Trails go off in every direction; ambitious trails for those who want to hike to the tops of the mountains, and scenic walking trails which take hikers through the woods, over small foot-bridges, and back around the lake.
While Rainbow Lake Resort is self contained, the small town of Buena Vista is not far for those who want to purchase groceries (if mountain lake fish is not enough for you to eat) or if dinner in a restaurant is sought one evening. There are also several horse-back riding establishments and white water rafting opportunities nearby. Mountain climbing, biking and other summer sports are popular throughout the area.
The best part about Rainbow Lake Resort is the quiet. The guests are normally families or friends who simply want to get away from it all, fish a bit, and enjoy one another’s company. The evenings are lazy and calm; the days are sunny and warm. The people who run the place are friendly and helpful. The hummingbirds are adorable and the lake is simply beautiful.
If a quiet, sunny, mountain vacation is what you seek, consider going to Rainbow Lake Resort. It is charming, rustic, and serene. Often on the sunny afternoons, the only sounds that can be heard are the birds chirping and the wind whispering through the aspen leaves. Sometimes the only thing to do is read a book, take a walk, or sit and think. It makes one never want to go home.