A long and winding driveway keeps guests guessing as they drive deeper through one of Winter Park’s most family-friendly treasures, nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Organized more like a cozy small town than an adventure camp, the YMCA of the Rockies: Snow Mountain Ranch attracts every type of guest, and panoramic views at any vantage point make them never want to leave.
For fifty years, YMCA of the Rockies – Snow Mountain Ranch has provided families a respite from the everyday chaos of normal life and a chance to reconnect over horseshoes at sunset, family meals in the dining hall, and s’mores over a campfire. But if that’s too docile, guests can kick their adventurous gear up a notch while careening through a forest via zip line, trekking through the snow on a dogsled, or giggling their way down the first inner tube hill of its kind in the state.
Between the YMCA of the Rockies’ two locations in Estes Park and Winter Park, families are treated to a one-of-a-kind getaway that lends itself to maximum adventure without the tourist crowds that other family vacation spots might bring. With 5,100 acres of protected, preserved land, Snow Mountain Ranch offers something for all ages. Guests can test their gut with a forest zip line, embrace their inner child with Human Hungry Hungry Hippos in the gym, interact with the camp’s sled dogs in the summer, or visit the Program Building for horseback riding or whitewater rafting nearby.
Snow Mountain Ranch is open year-round with various activities suited for warm or cold months. Kristen Spronz, marketing manager, explained that July, December, and January tend to be the busiest months of the year for families due to school holiday breaks. Summertime highlights include nearly anything and everything — from climbing walls to miles of bike trails to an enchanting waterfall hike to Hanging with Huskies, a program designed to keep sled dogs active in the summer.
If guests want to stay closer to the cabin, they can spend an afternoon outside the Program Building bonding over a friendly game of giant Connect4, Ladderball, or horseshoes.
During the winter months, Kristen says she knows families have a slew of destination resorts to enjoy the snow with, but what gives Snow Mountain Ranch the edge is it’s “off the slopes fun.” Not only does the facility offer beautiful trails for cross country and back-country skiing, but guests aren’t limited to only snow sports that typical ski resorts provide. With daily activities organized by the YMCA, a large aquatic center, crafting opportunities, and dog sledding, there are plenty of activities to keep guests warm, while also taking full advantage of time with loved ones.
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“There’s a lot of downhill skiing [in the area] but for families with younger kids maybe they only want to do that for the day,” Kristen says. “So with a tubing hill, and dog sledding and snowshoeing there’s more that the whole family can do, and it’s a great, quiet place to relax.”
Depending on the size of reservations and availability, the property provides an array of choices for lodging such as individual cabins, campsites, and lodges. For non-traditional guests, spacious yurts dot the hillsides of the camp for excellent views and an adventurous experience with loved ones.
The dining hall provides three meals a day in a cafeteria and buffet setting, with an assortment of meal options catering to various diets and needs, such as dairy-free and vegetarian selections.
For those with a hankering for cooking, the main town of Winter Park is just 15 minutes outside the camp where guests can dine out or visit different markets for groceries.
While Snow Mountain Ranch encourages families to spend time at the camp together, the ranch also offers youth development programs such as day camp and overnight programs to allow kids to cultivate relationships with other children and let the parents have some time to themselves. The camp offers a back-country ski program in the winter for ages 13 and up, so families can learn the ropes without fear of getting lost on the property.
Given the nature of the getaway location, YMCA of the Rockies proudly offers a Military Getaway Package — $174 for a two-night stay in a 6-person room that includes all meals. Geared towards providing military families with the chance to spend quality time together before a deployment or as a reconnection trip after a season of separation, Spronz says the program runs alongside the organization’s ultimate mission to cultivate an environment that engages guests’ entire spirit, mind, and body. Therefore, classes and programs such as sunrise yoga, guided hikes, meditation seminars, and year-round outdoor education classes are offered.
Ready to start planning your next family-oriented summer or winter vacation? The YMCA of the Rockies is ready to help make it happen. Visit their website or call for reservations at 888-613-9622.
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Photo credit: Renee Dolan Photography, YMCA of the Rockies
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