34 Reasons to Visit YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch

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By Cami Sauder

Have you read my article about the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park? If so, you realize I’m a big fan of staying at the Y camp when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park

I’ll bet you didn’t know that there are actually 2 YMCA camps, one on each side of the park, did you?

Let me fill you in on 34 and More Reasons you should visit the west side and stay at Snow Mountain Ranch.

First, always remember that being a member of the YMCA will afford you first pick on accommodations and dates when booking. 

With so many options on lodging and activities to choose from, you’ll want to plan your stay ahead of time in order to optimize your precious days of family time. 


YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch: 34 Reasons to Visit


1. Choose Your Lodging

Lodging choices range in price from $63-$614 per night depending on the dates and include the following:

  • 41 RV and tent sites at one of their 2 campgrounds with tent pads, electric, sewer and water, picnic table and fire ring.
  • 24 seasonal yurts with a double bed and 2 sets of bunks, mini fridge, microwave, picnic table, tent pad for sleeping 2 more outside, fire ring and nearby bathhouse and dish cleaning station, sleeps up to 8
  • 3 lodges with all linens provided, some rooms with a mini fridge and balcony, heated but not air conditioned, sleeps up to 6
  • 50 cabins with all linens provided, ranging in size from 2-5 bedrooms, heated but not air conditioned, sleeps up to 12

Our two-bedroom cabin, Little White Dove, (see video tour above) had:

  • a fully equipped kitchen
  • large dining table
  • fireplace
  • cable TV
  • WiFi
  • large deck with picnic table as well as other seating.

I also saw some cabins that had gas grills.

Take a look at this article for some tips for getting a cabin if you are not a member of the Y.


2. Plan a Family Reunion 

Want to bring your WHOLE family together for a fun-filled time?

In your own private area of camp, you’ll enjoy several large cabins, a meeting room and even playgrounds to keep the kids happy.

It’s the perfect scene for a family get-together or a grouping of friends.


3. Get Away With Your Military Family

Through Mission 623, active duty and reserve military can book 2 nights in a lodge and 6 meals for up to a family of 4 at a reduced rate. 

Call 1-888-613-9622 to inquire about availability.


4. Eat Delicious Food 

With one of these dining options, you’ll never go hungry…

  • Schlessman Dining Commons breakfast, lunch and dinner served buffet-style
  • All-You-Can-Eat family cookouts
  • Skinny Ski Cafe for soup, chili, hot cocoa and more during Nordic ski season
  • Buckboard Grill for burgers, pizza, salads and sandwiches, ice cream and grocery supplies


5. Head to Rocky Mountain National Park

Is Rocky Mountain National Park on your bucket list or perhaps it’s one of your favorite Colorado getaways?

Snow Mountain Ranch is incredibly convenient to the park and is located on the quieter west side.

You’ll find the west entrance a mere 30 minutes away; in fact, you can be at the top of Trail Ridge Road in a little over an hour.

[Read our tips on visiting Rocky Mountain National Park]


Anytime Activities

6. Go for a Swim

At the William L Carter, Jr. Memorial Swimming Pool, you can enjoy the heated indoor pool, slide, diving well, volleyball and aquatic climbing wall.

I heard you fall directly into the pool from there. That sounds interesting!

Afterward, you can use the sauna (especially nice if it’s cold out) and then shower off before heading out.


7. Get Sporty

At the gym, there’s something for everyone:

  • air hockey
  • roller skating (skates provided free)
  • ping pong
  • volleyball
  • foosball
  • billiards
  • a climbing wall


8. Get Creative 

At the Craft shop, try your hand at ceramics, tie dye, wood burning, leather crafts, mosaics, glass fusion or jewelry making and let the kids pick from sand art, bird houses, modeling clay, beading and more.

Craft kits start at only $1 and go up from there.


9. Pick up Souvenirs

You’ll want to pick up a memento of your stay at the onsite gift shop or grab small grocery items in case you forgot to eat enough at the buffet. 🙂


10. Explore Free Family-Friendly Programs

Kids can participate in a fort building clinic, leaf stenciling, wildlife education and other classes as part of their “Little Explorers” program.

It’ll help them learn to make decisions and problem-solve on their own with their parents nearby.

Bingo, trivia, dancing, family campfires, night hikes and more activities for the entire family are listed in the weekly schedule.

Pick up a schedule in the Programs building.


11. Peruse the Library

Steal away for some quiet time or find a new novel at the on-site library.

Check out books, puzzles and games from their collection or use a computer and hook up to WiFi if you’re having withdrawal.


12. Stargaze

stargazing YMCA of the Rockies

Grab a blanket and head to a picnic table away from all the lights. We found one in Yurt Village since it was deserted.

The Milky Way is on display every clear night here.


13. Get Your Photo Taken

Wouldn’t a canvas of your time together in the beautiful Rocky Mountains hanging on your wall at home be fantastic?

YMCA of the Rockies: Snow Mountain Ranch has a professional photographer available to take your family photo if you’d like.


14. Worship

You’ve been standing in awe of God’s beautiful creation, so why not head over to the non-denominational church services located in the chapel that start at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays?


Summer Activities

15. Fight Your Fears


Zip lining… If you’ve never tried it, like me, this would be a great place to start!

After climbing the telephone pole or sky-high ladder (so it seemed, but it was really only 35 feet) while being belayed, which means you WON’T be falling, you’ll zip down the 600-foot gravity line.

This REALLY appealed to me, and although I had to talk myself into going up that huge ladder and actually jump off the platform, I was happy I conquered my fears and did it!


16. Compete at Disc Golf

Ymca of the rockies disc frisbee golf

Gather some friendly competitors and pick up a frisbee or two and a map at the Programs desk to test your skills on their 18-hole course.

You may just have found a new sport you love, surrounded by beautiful scenery.


17. Fish at the Reservoir

If you brought your own pole or decide to rent one at the fishing shop located in the Programs building, you’ll be set to hook a trout or two.

They also have onsite fly fishing lessons, fly tying classes and equipment sales.

No fishing license is required to fish while on property, which saves some time and hassle.


18. Rent a Bike

Choose from bike rentals of all types, including a couple of e-bikes. Helmets are included.

With an off-road trail through the middle of the Y, you won’t have to worry about riding on the roadways.

Along this trail, they even have a bike skills course that would be a good challenge for the younger set.


19. Lace up Your Hiking Boots

Hike on your own or join a program-led hike, which might include Waterfall Trail (2.2 miles, 400 ft elevation gain) to a 55-foot waterfall or 9-Mile Mountain Trail (~3 miles, 600 ft elevation gain), NOT 9 miles for some reason! 

Don’t forget you’re already at more than 8,000 feet, so bring water and sunscreen if it’s sunny. You’ll need them both!

We did the Waterfall Trail, taking the right side of the lollipop-shaped trail, which had great signage every 1/4 mile.

Walk a little past the 1-mile mark to the falls.

You can take the alternate way back down or return via the same route.


20. Make Your Summer Tubing Reservation ASAP


This might be the most fun you’ll have on your whole trip!!

When it’s your turn, grab a tube, get in line and then take a seat before you get flung down the astroturf-like slide with water spraying.

Choose from either forward-facing, backward or spinning crazily the whole way down.

When you’re done, hoist your tube over to the “magic carpet,” which will carry you uphill to do it all over again and again and again…

If you’re like me, you’ll want to book a session each day you’re there! 


21. Saddle up

Horseback riding Bryce Canyon

Go horseback riding onsite with Snow Mountain Stables, which offers one- to four-hour hour trail rides, breakfast and dinner rides, wagon rides and pony rides.

There’s just nothing quite like horseback riding when you’re out west. You’ll feel like a true cowboy.


22. Play Games

Outdoors you can play corn hole, ladder ball, Connect 4, sand volleyball and basketball.

Once it gets dark, there are tons of indoor games and puzzles, either in your cabin or to check out at the Programs building.


23. Grab a Self-Serve Golf Club and Ball

Take your time playing their challenging 18-hole course, or with your youngest kids, try their 9-hole mini toddler course.

This can be done at anytime, day or night, since the course is well lit. 

23. Visit the Dog Park

Rover American miles - beagle dog

If you’ve brought Spot along, he’ll enjoy his own special place at the Y.

You might even meet the dog-sledding Huskies if you happen to be onsite during the special summer sessions. 



24. Pretend You’re Robin Hood

Reserve a time slot for the archery range in the Programs building beforehand.

I’m pretty sure it was my first time to try archery, and I did actually hit the target a time or two!

Try the short range and then progress to the long range.

Shoot when the course is “hot” and to try to find your arrows when the course is “cold.”

Our group lost quite a few arrows in the trees, some never to be seen again!


25. Smash a Ball

Secure your tennis equipment in the Kiva or Programs building or try your hand at a nearby tetherball court. 


26. Learn About Pioneer Life

With a guided tour at Rowley Homestead, you’ll learn about living life as a pioneer during the late 1800s.

You might even be able to create your own hiking stick during a summer session. 

Otherwise, take a look around at the buildings and farming equipment on your own.


27. Whitewater Raft

Water sports enthusiasts will enjoy canoeing on premises at the reservoir or whitewater rafting offsite with Mad Adventures in nearby Kremmling.

There you can join a half-day, full-day or overnight rafting trip for a thrilling adventure.


28. Play on the Grounds

Bringing kids with you?

You’ll appreciate the various playgrounds scattered throughout the property.

Spruce Saddle Adventure Park has the most equipmet and will keep active kids busy for awhile. 


Fall Activities

29. Get Married

Imagine having your dream wedding at Columbine Point, saying “I Do” with a view.


30. Stand in Awe of Fall

During peak season, we just couldn’t get enough photos of the beautiful fall colors as the aspens turned their famous gold color.

The golds, oranges and reds were a sight to behold!


31. Take in the Sunset

Be absolutely sure to go outside at the twilight hour, especially when the aspens are in all their glory!

There’s just something magical about sunset, especially in the Rocky Mountains…


Winter Activities

32. Discover Seasonal Activities

If you’re so inclined to head to Snow Mountain Ranch in the winter, be sure to check out these offerings:

  • Ice skating (free skate rental included)
  • Horse-drawn sleigh rides that end at a crackling campfire with hot cocoa
  • Dog sledding
  • Tubing hill (sorry, there’s no “magic carpet” on this one)
  • Nordic Center, led by former Olympic medalist Todd Lodwick, for snow shoes, cross-country skiing or fat bike rentals–check out the free lessons for kids as well
  • Cutting down your own tree during the festive Christmas Tree Cutting Experience
  • Winter wonderland event at the library for story time, holiday-themed crafts and hot apple cider and cocoa
  • Snowmobiling offsite with Grand Adventures for all ages and skill levels



33. Downhill Snow Skiing

And finally, within a 20-minute drive you could be at either Winter Park or Granby Ranch to get all the powder you could possibly want.

You can actually rent skis and snowboards at Snow Mountain Sports in the same building as the library at the Y. How convenient is that? 


Have I given you enough reasons to make the YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch a part of your next vacation plans?

You may not even end up making it back out the entrance until your trip is completely over like me.

When will you book a stay?



Go to Travel Gal has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Go to Travel Gal and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

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