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YMCA of the Rockies: Colorado’s Most Affordable and Fun Vacation

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If there is an affordable, fun family vacation in Colorado that rivals YMCA of the Rockies, I’d like to know about it. Since I moved to Colorado 10 years ago, we have had a family reunion and multiple trips to both of the YMCA of the Rockies’ locations.

YMCA of the Rockies: Colorado's Most Affordable and Fun Vacation

YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park location in the summer

Last summer, I was invited to a local blogger retreat at their 860-acre Estes Park Center where we had so much fun we decided to make it a semi-annual tradition. Last weekend was Part II when we visited Snow Mountain Ranch’s 5,100-acre family ranch located between Winter Park and Grand Lake. The resort’s Nordic center has more than 100 kilometers of trails and we tackled about five km of them in our beginner class (not bad for a bunch of rookies).

YMCA of the Rockies: Colorado's Most Affordable and Fun Vacation - sleigh ride with kids

A sleigh ride at Snow Mountain Ranch – my kids’ favorite activity!

My kids are already begging to go back and have their first camp experience at Camp Chief Ouray, a traditional overnight summer camp for boys and girls ages 7-17.  I’m fully supportive so long as I can stay at the nearby Indian Peaks Lodge and do their Women’s Fitness Camp (see last year’s information).

Because who says kids get to have all the fun?

YMCA of the Rockies: Colorado's Most Affordable and Fun Vacation - Snow Mountain Ranch

Nordic skiing at Snow Mountain Ranch

Year-round Activities

So, just how enjoyable is YMCA of the Rockies? In August, my 8-year-old daughter summed it up best: “It’s like summer camp for the entire family!” Only they’re open year-round so that “summer camp” is winter, spring and fall as well.

During the summer, YMCA of the Rockies has a 27-hole miniature golf course, guided hikes, scavenger hunts, a full line-up at their Activity Center, a skate park, disc golf, sand volleyball, tennis, and basketball (activities vary slightly by location).

In the winter, they boast tubing, ice skating under a covered pavilion, traditional sleigh rides (my kids’ favorite activity), horseback riding, sledding, Nordic skiing and dog sledding (the most affordable I’ve ever seen—just $15 for one on a sled and $25 for two).

Year-round activities include the craft center (Estes Park’s location will blow your mind away), swimming, roller skating, hiking, an indoor rock climbing wall, and archery.

YMCA of the Rockies with kids - Estes Park Center view

Estes Park overlooking the Rocky Mountain National Park

The Properties

Keep in mind these lodging rates also include a huge line-up of activities; there are a few fee-based ones as well.

The Estes Park Center borders the famous Rocky Mountain National Park on three sides and offers a variety of fun for all ages. Rock Climb at Mary’s Lake, swim in the indoor pool, horseback ride, try out archery and much more. The Estes Park Center has nine lodges and more than 250 cabins to choose from. Summer rates: A lodge room starts at $109, two-bedroom cabin $134, and three-bedroom vacation homes start at $349. During the winter, the prices are even less expensive. The accommodations aren’t fancy but they certainly are affordable.

YMCA of the Rockies: Colorado's Most Affordable and Fun Vacation - Snow Mountain Ranch

In addition to outdoor fun, indoor activities at Snow Mountain Ranch abound

Snow Mountain Ranch is located between Winter Park and Grand Lake. With sweeping views of the Continental Divide, you’ll love the warm western ambiance of the lodges and cabins. If you don’t mind roughing it, you can connect with the outdoors in the newly expanded yurt village. There is fun for all ages including year-round horseback riding, canoeing, 100 km of Nordic ski trails, tubing, an indoor pool with an aqua climbing wall and a guided hike to the waterfall.

Lodge rooms starts at $119, two-bedroom cabins $209,  and three-bedroom vacation homes $349, Yurts are $89 and campsites start at $41 (sleep 8; open Memorial Day – Labor Day). During a winter weekday (not including holidays), Snow Mountain Ranch is offering a discounted rate starting at $139 for a two-bedroom cabin.

YMCA of the Rockies: Colorado's Most Affordable and Fun Vacation - Playground at Snow Mountain Ranch

Playground at Snow Mountain Ranch

YMCA of the Rockies Deals

Stay two nights and get the third night free in cabins and lodge rooms at Snow Mountain Ranch now through May 31, 2013. Not valid during black-out dates or in cabins during holiday periods

Ski, Skate and Sled for Free. That’s right. Free. Stay in a cabin, lodge rooms or yurt at Snow Mountain Ranch and receive a free trail pass for their cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, along with free ice skating, tubing and sledding at Winter Fun Park.

Have you ever stayed at YMCA of the Rockies or another YMCA location? Would you recommend it to your friends? Let us know in the comments!

A Note from The Outdoorsy Travel Mama: Thank you to YMCA of the Rockies for a wonderful time!

All photos by Amber Johnson.

About Amber Johnson, The Outdoorsy Travel Mama

Amber Johnson is a fun-loving mom of two. After a whirlwind career as an adventure-travel writer and publicist in Utah’s ski industry, she married and moved to Denver where her family loves skiing, biking, hiking and climbing 14ers (14,000-foot peaks). She is the founder of The Denver Post’s Mile High Mamas, writes a regular “Family Cents” column for the newspaper and has been blogging since 2005 (you can find her at Amber is excited to be a part of the Travel Mamas team and looks forward to chronicling her occasionally-painful but always-hilarious misadventures! You can connect with Amber on Twitter as @TheMileHighMama.

  1. I had no idea that there were YMCA locations that functioned like resorts – sounds like so much fun!!

  2. Lori Lavender Luz says

    This looks like a fantastic place to spend time as a family. Can’t wait to take my family to Snow Mountain Ranch!

  3. Amber's The Mile High Mama says

    It makes me want to look into other YMCA resort locations. I heard they even have something in Hawaii.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Amber – Ooh! Maybe then my family could afford a trip to Hawaii. Putting vacation planning cap on!

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