Grand County towns make Top 10 ‘authentic’ list |

Grand County towns make Top 10 ‘authentic’ list

The town of Grand Lake, as seen from Shadow Mountain, has been named as one of the "Top 10 Authentic Small Towns in America."
Byron Hetzler file photo/ | Sky-Hi News

Grand County has the unique distinction of having two towns among the “Top 10 Authentic Small Towns in America.”

Steve Winston, writing for World Property Journal (, named Grand Lake and Winter Park among his selections. Winter Park weighed in at No. 6, while Grand Lake’s charms earned it the No. 1 ranking.

“Imagine a tiny town of a few hundred, sitting on the shore of a huge alpine lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains,” Winston wrote. “Then, imagine that this town has wood-planked sidewalks, funky Western restaurants, friendly folks with wide smiles and cowboy hats, fresh mountain air, craftspeople in colorful old studios, quaint bookshops and galleries, first-class live theater, and, oh, yes — the southern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ve imagined Grand Lake!”

Winter Park made an impression as well.

“I do make a lot of Top 10 lists. And I particularly enjoy doing ones about American small towns. But this is the first time I can recall that I’ve ever listed two towns in the same county.”
Steve Winston
Travel writer, World Property Journal

“Winter Park is a colorful, one-street Colorado town with a lot to do — and to see,” he wrote. “The views will take your breath away, from the 12,000-foot peaks you drive through to get here (on a very winding road) to the eye-filling views of the Fraser Valley.”

The news has been well received in Grand Lake and among its social media fans.

“I’m excited,” said Samantha Miller, executive director of the Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. “I think authenticity is something that rings true to our brand. … Grand Lake is one of the last authentic small towns.”

Miller recalled Winston’s visit to the town, where among other things he took in a show at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre.

“He just was great fit, and he really fell in love with Grand Lake,” she said.

“It’s exciting that Winter Park made the list, too,” she said, noting that both anchor towns in Grand County are receiving recognition.

The Florida-based travel writer wrote during an email exchange that he has visited Colorado numerous times but he had never made the trip over Berthoud until this past summer. Once he ventured off on Exit 232, he was smitten.

“I’d never visited Winter Park or Grand Lake before,” he wrote. “And I decided that, when I went to Colorado … I was going to do that. While there, I just fell in love with Grand County … and with both towns.”

In fact, he was impressed enough to do something he’s never done before.

“I do make a lot of Top 10 lists. And I particularly enjoy doing ones about American small towns. But this is the first time I can recall that I’ve ever listed two towns in the same county.”

The towns were the inspiration for an “authentic” top 10 list as well.

“I’ve done a lot of Top 10 lists focusing on small towns,” he said. “But – especially after seeing Winter Park and Grand Lake – I came up with the idea of a list about authentic towns.”

Winston said this is the inaugural appearance of the “authentic” list, but it is likely to become an annual feature, based on its popularity.

“Will it become an annual feature?” he responded in his email. “Probably, because it’s gotten (and is still getting) a fantastic reaction around the world. It’s been shared on Facebook 31,000 times, re-tweeted 87 times, and commented upon (in Facebook, and on the WPJ website) more than 60 times. At one point on Sunday, 130 people a minute were accessing the website — primarily because of the buzz around this article.”

The story has attracted a serious attention from Grand Lake’s fans as well. Miller said the story posting on Chamber’s website had reached 50,928 views as of Thursday morning.

Other towns that made the list include:

No. 2: Wallace, Idaho

No. 3: Cody, Wyo.

No. 4: Floyd, Va.

No. 5: Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

No. 7: Elkhart Lake, Wis.

No. 8: Bryson City, N.C.

No. 9: Fredericksburg, Texas

No. 10: Woodstock, N.Y.

Perusing the website, one also finds a list of Winston’s Top 10 Mountain Towns in America. Winter Park comes in No. 5 on that list.

“You’ll run out of time long before you run out of things to do here,” he wrote. “In winter, there’s cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, hot-air ballooning (yes, in winter!) snow-cat skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, snow-shoeing, skiing, snow-boarding, sleigh-riding, tubing, and sledding. In summer, there’s mountain-biking, hiking, rafting, climbing, boating, camping, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, and zip-lining.”

Grand Lake did not make that list, but its cross-Continental Divide rival, Estes Park, weighed in at No. 2.

The World Property Journal website describes itself as “a ‘digital real estate newspaper’ that publishes, distributes and syndicates on a daily basis Residential, Commercial and Vacation real estate market news, investment trends, property cycles and listing information on a global scale.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User