Tourism proved the most consistent industry throughout the history of Grand County. Hot Sulphur Springs brought visitors to the area as early as the 1860s under the direction of William Byers. The hot springs became especially popular for their medicinal qualities. The Town of Grand Lake, meanwhile, attracted hunting parties.
The railroad brought hundreds of tourists from Denver in the early twentieth century. It stopped at a station on top of Rollins Pass that featured a restaurant and dance hall. Rail access and the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915 paved the way for tourism development in Grand Lake. In 1920 entrepreneur Roe Emery opened the Grand Lake Lodge, and in 1938 the completion of Trail Ridge Road across the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park offered tourists a scenic drive to Grand Lake from Denver.
Though skiing began in the early twentieth century, it did not become a major industry with modern resorts until after World War II. The increased population in Colorado, as well as returning veterans of the Tenth Mountain Division, led to interest and investments in ski resorts. Winter Park began in the 1930s as a mountain resort community known as Hideaway Park. The Graves family began the community with ten tourist cabins for rent. In 1978 the town incorporated and changed its name to Winter Park. Its proximity to the growing city of Denver helped Winter Park develop into a tourist town that primarily catered to winter sports. Today, the town supports year-round outdoor recreation.
Hot Sulphur Springs hosted their first Winter Carnival in 1911. The carnival included winter sports such as ice skating, tobogganing, cross country skiing, and ski jumping. This is considered to be the beginning of skiing in Grand County and is credited with bringing the ski industry to Colorado. With the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915, additional tourists came to the area. Its west entrance was situated by Grand Lake, bringing a new road to the county through the park.
Granby Ranch is another all-season resort in Grand County, offering downhill and cross-country skiing. The resort also offers snowshoeing, and in warmer weather visitors can enjoy bike trails and a golf course. Grand County visitors can also enjoy the outdoors at the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.