Have you read our Ultimate Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park and added this beautiful park to your bucket list? If not, let me give you EVEN MORE reasons to do it right now!

In fact, I’ll give you 30 reasons to make the YMCA of the Rockies your home base for your trip to the Estes Park, Colorado, area.

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30 Brilliant Reasons to Stay at YMCA of the Rockies

YMCA of the Rockies

1. Location, Location, Location

Not only is the YMCA of the Rockies a complete destination unto itself with more than 800 fabulous acres, it’s a mere 3 miles to the Beaver Meadows entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park.

With downtown Estes Park only 4 miles away, it’s your own little slice of heaven completely away from the crowds, yet close at hand.

2. Choose From a Variety of Accommodations

You’ll have the flexibility to choose either a lodge room or a cabin for your stay. A lodge room can sleep 5-6 guests and includes your own private bath and all linens with a variety of rate ranges, depending on the season.

YMCA of the Rockies cabin
2 bedroom basic cabin, “Joyful”

When choosing a cabin, you can opt for the basic 2-bedroom, 3/4 bath with kitchen but no dishwasher or fireplace option, which sleeps 4, or you can go all the way up to a 4-bedroom, multiple-bath, kitchen with dishwasher and a fireplace option, sleeping 10 people.

The cherry on top is that you can bring your furry family member along if you follow their pet policy.

3. Get a Massage

Yes, you read that right! They have turned one of the cabins into a relaxing and therapeutic massage center. Serviced by Home Grown Yoga & Massage, you can partake in a Swedish, hot stone, prenatal or even hiker’s foot massage. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!

4. Join in Free Family Programs

Each day at the YMCA of the Rockies is absolutely chock full of activities for the whole family to participate in for free.

These include games, hikes, story times, bird banding and more. Just take a look above at what they had to offer the week we were there.

5. Eat Good Food

If you’re staying in a lodge, be aware that there are no cooking facilities or even a small fridge available in your room. You can opt to eat at:

Family Cookouts and Campfires may be available if they’re not under a fire ban.

If you’ve opted for a cabin, you’ll have a full-size refrigerator and stove where you can cook all of your meals.  

6. Get Moving at the Roller Rink

I can’t remember the last time I laced up some roller skates, but the Bob Ecker Roller Rink is open daily if the mood strikes you to take a few spins around the floor. Skates ARE provided and roller blades are welcome if you brought your own.

7. Take a Hike

The Y has several hikes within its boundaries, like Bible Point, but you can take longer hikes right into the national park.

So, if for some reason you didn’t get a timed entrance pass, as is currently required, no worries! We hiked right from our cabin to and around Sprague Lake one afternoon.

8. Join a Guided Hike

family hike

Don’t quite feel comfortable hiking on your own, especially with your little ones? The Y has you covered!

They offer several guided hikes daily, the easiest being the Moraine Park Nature Walk at 3 miles with only a 400-foot elevation gain. Up for a little harder hike? Try the hike to Gem Lake with nearly a 1500-foot gain. There’s a wide variety to choose from.

9. Participate in Free Classes

You’re on vacation in the mountains, why not take time to learn about black bears, birds and wolves or how to make a fire or some other survival skills? These classes and more are offered at the Y. Who knew?

10. Go Horseback Riding

Have your kids been bugging you to go horseback riding? Jackson Stables within the YMCA of the Rockies has you covered.

You can opt to take your very littlest on a pony ride, get the whole family on a hayride complete with marshmallow roast or, for the more adventurous, sign up for a several-hour ride.

11. Gaze at the Stars

stargazing YMCA of the Rockies

Whether you join in one of their free stargazing activities, bring your telescope like we did or grab your jacket and blanket to get away from ALL the lights by driving to Overlook Chapel, the night sky at the Y will amaze you with views of the Milky Way, constellations, satellites and hopefully a falling star or two!

12. Have a Dream Wedding

Ever thought about getting married at the Y? Bet you didn’t know they have several wedding venues, including Overlook Chapel shown above. Even with some smoky haze on the day we were there, the setting is still spectacular!

13. Go Biking

mountain biking YMCA of the Rockies

Whether you’ve brought your bike from home or want to rent one from Boone Family Mountain Center for a half or full day, there are plenty of places and terrains to ride at the YMCA of the Rockies, including the opportunity to enjoy mountain biking. 

14. Worship at the Chapel

Don’t want to miss church while you’re on vacation? Not an issue at all with weekly non-denominational services right on site. The chapel is also open 24/7 for prayer.

There are also several prayer trails, a labyrinth and a Bible story walk for kids on the grounds.

15. Play Games

You’ll most likely find some games in your cabin or borrow some from Sweet Memorial. One of my best memories from game-playing with our kids comes from playing Mad Gab in a cabin right here at the Y. Can you guess this one: mess ago sit he? I’ll give you the answer at the end. 😊

16. Try Archery and Axe Throwing

Did you know that there’s currently an “axeplosion” of people who like to throw axes for fun? 😃  Yes, it’s truly a thing. Lauded as the replacement for bowling, you’ve chosen the right place to try it out. It’s also noted to “bring out your inner mountain man/woman.”

Not quite so adventurous, but still into launching sharp things? Try their archery range conveniently situated adjacent.

17. Go for a Swim

Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit, so you can visit the Dorsey swimming pool. Heated to 83 degrees, the pool offers water exercise classes, open swim and lap swim times. And for the young or young at heart, try their great waterslide!

18. Challenge Yourself at the Aerial Course

Ready to test your limits on a course set up to do just that? Sign up to conquer the Aerial Challenge Course and see if you’re up to the task!

19. Spot Wildlife

Elk sparring

You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy, when you step foot on the grounds of the YMCA! I’ve seen elk, bear, deer, stellar’s jays, hummingbirds and more. The first time I was there, staying in the Hummingbird cabin, a bear decided to go under it, which was amazing.

There are signs that say you are in bear country and they’ve taken better precautions to keep them away since then. The trash cans are all bear-proof, and they no longer hang hummingbird feeders at the cabins.

The deer, however, are in abundance and seem fearless, and the elk are always nearby. In fact, I caught two of them sparring when I was out for my morning photo opp. I stood behind a tree just to be safe! 😃

20. Visit the Dog Park

For those not-so-wild furry family members, who are actually welcome in the cabins, they’ve created an area with great amenities for dogs and humans named Murphy’s Mountain Dog Park.

With agility stations, seating, a shade shelter and water fountains, man’s best friend will have fun exploring here, as well as the new 5+ mile trail that follows the boundary of the entire YMCA property. WOOF.

21. Play Disc Golf

Ymca of the rockies disc frisbee golf

If you’ve never tried disc golf before, here’s your chance. With a $10 deposit, you can rent discs and try your hand at their 18-hole course.

While learning, you’ll get in a good walk and be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds you as you play.

22. Relax or Participate in a Program at the Library

Have a bookworm in your family? They’ll love perusing and checking out the titles from the Maude Jellison Library.

After a long hike, you might want to prop your feet up, pop some corn and watch a movie on your laptop (there are NO TVs at the Y!), which are available here as well.

They also have poetry readings, musical performances and you might even meet a former President at one of their special events!

23. Get Crafty

Enter the fun world of arts and crafts at the Mootz Family Craft and Designer Center where you can indulge your crafty side in a variety of mediums, including wood, leather, ceramics, tie dye, silk painting, glass fusing, basket making or beading to make and take. It’ll be a fantastic souvenir of your visit.

24. Have a Professional Photo Taken

Professional family photo

Would you like to have a professional family photo taken in this stunning setting for your annual Christmas card or Facebook post? Sky Pond Photography, the official photographers of the YMCA of the Rockies, would be happy to photograph you with absolutely no obligation to buy. 

25. Go Fishing

Situated at the entrance to the grounds, Dorsey Lake (catch and release only) is a beautiful location to throw in your line along with Glacier Creek, Mill Creek and the Big Thompson River, which all flow with clear mountain water on Y property at some point.

One year when my husband was fishing, three bull elk walked into the water just a few feet from him. That was an unexpected thrill and a bit scary! More recently, he was able to snag a few trout from Glacier Creek to have for breakfast.

Want to learn how to fly fish? Contact Sasquatch Fly Fishing to set up a lesson. They have a convenient location right on the property.

26. Climb a Wall

Choose from an indoor 25-foot climbing wall, a lower bouldering wall or, if the season is right, try tackling the 3-sided outdoor tower at one of their rock-climbing adventures.

Climbing shoes, harnesses and all instruction are included in the price and even beginners can have success here!

27. Go Sledding or Snowshoeing


If the snow has fallen, why not try your feet at snowshoeing? You can explore the beautiful YMCA grounds while getting plenty of exercise either on your own or with a guide. The Y has everything on site for you to rent, including poles.

28. Visit the Museum

The Lula W. Dorsey Museum, housed in a 1924 guest lodge, has several gallery exhibits on the area, the history and creation of the YMCA of the Rockies, as well as several period room settings. They also have a staff alumni cabin you can visit.

29. Discover Seasonal Activities

Are you able to visit sometime other than summer? How about fall? The Y has many different seasonal events like a Fall Fest, Halloween Spooktacular and more, depending on when you visit.

In winter, you can enjoy sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing and lots more in the midst of Rocky Mountain snow! Check out their seasonal activity guides.

30. Win at Mini Golf

Who doesn’t love a quick, free game of mini-golf to get their competitive juices flowing?! Try their short 9-hole course (It’s the one we tried that says it is “perfect for preschool children!” No wonder we got so many holes-in-one!) or be a grown-up and try their more challenging 18-hole course. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to have a lot of family fun. 😃

There are so many more things to do at the YMCA of the Rockies that I didn’t list, but I’ll let you discover those for yourself.

And I know you’ve been wondering if you got the answer to the Mad Gab clue correct or not. It was MEXICO CITY. Did you guess right? 👏

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  • Cami Sauder

    Cami Sauder, a member of the Families Travel Free team, is a longtime traveler who aims to be away from home at least 1/3 of the year. She's mastered the art of using miles and points to save on flights and hotels and saved more than $16,000 on travel using points in the last year. She and her husband have a goal to see as many National Parks as possible.

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