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Camping is bonding family time, but what if you’re really not that into pitching a tent and the work involved in setting up a campground? Say hello to Colorado camping in a yurt, a modern day option with “glamping” perks, like an already set up roof over your head, a real bed, picnic tables, grill, and even a fire pit. Traveling Grandmom has the scoop on why it doesn’t get any better than Colorado camping at Snow Mountain Ranch Yurts — and the price tag couldn’t be more budget-friendly.
Colorado Camping: Glamping in a Yurt
What the heck is a yurt? I had no idea either until I accepted the invite to experience YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch yurts last summer with my family. My eyes glazed over momentarily with the mention of “camping,” although I was immediately assured that it wasn’t like the sleeping-bag-tent-dirt sort of Colorado family vacation. More like glamping. As a grandmom to 7, I feel I deserve to put the sleeping on the ground part of the rugged camp bonding experience behind me, just saying.
Just so you know. A modern day yurt is a free-standing, enclosed, round “tent” with roof beams and (oftentimes) a window. And yes, I looked that up before agreeing to this Colorado adventure.
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Once I read more about this yurt glamping structure, we decided to make it our first multigenerational family vacation with our son, daughter-in-law, and 2-year-old granddaughter.
Welcome to the YMCA: Snow Mountain Ranch Yurts
Colorado’s YMCA of the Rockies offers some pretty spectacular mountain options in Estes Park and near Winter Park. The latter is where the Snow Mountain Ranch yurts reside, as well as lodge rooms and cabins. From Denver, this is a quick and scenic 2-hour drive – unless you make a stop in Winter Park for lunch, like we love to do!
The road trip to the yurts was a girl trip – me, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Papa and my son had to work late, so they joined us later in the evening.
Snow Mountain Ranch offers a total of 24 yurts, 12 in the original village (Mac and Shirley Burgher Yurt Village) and 12 in the new Schlessman Family Yurt Village, where we stayed. The yurts are really quite roomy – 20 feet in diameter or 314 square feet with one handicap accessible yurt (with ramp) in each yurt village.
And right outside your yurt door is a cement pad, picnic table, grill, and firepit. All the comforts of camping without all the stress of setting it up! Oh, and there’s even an outdoor tent pad if you want others to join you and make it a big ol’ family get together.
Amenities Almost as Good as a Hotel — and the Price is Right!
One thing I dislike about camping is trekking to a community shower and toilets. What I loved about the Snow Mountain Ranch is that their yurt villages offer a bathhouse with showers (camping with HOT showers, really!?). These are private lockable, almost-hotel-like bathrooms. No, they are not INSIDE the yurts, but it’s only a short walk.
The facilities also offer sinks for washing dishes, drinking water, and the original yurt village (Mac and Shirley Burgher Yurt Village) has a laundry facility.
For families on a budget, wait for it…
The yurts are only $99/night, although some minimum night stays and restrictions do apply.
The yurts sleep up to 6 guests inside with a tent pad for outside sleeping for additional 2 guests. And even the four-legged family members are welcome as the yurts are dog-friendly.
Multigenerational Family Yurt Experience
Simply, it was amazing. My toddler granddaughter loved hanging out with the family, and the cool part was this was our first out-of-town-overnight multigenerational family vacation together. She was so excited to have Grammie, Papa, Daddy and Mama all to herself in one room.
Oh, yes, that one room thing. Inside our yurt was a queen bed, two bunk beds, a refrigerator, and table. Plenty of room to roam for a multigen family of 5. But of course, Grammie and Papa got the queen bed.
But the coolest part, of course, was just hanging out with the family around the firepit. Phone service was sketchy, but that was a blessing.
Lots of activities were available just within the yurt campgrounds. There was a public area, where we all gathered, chatted and roasted marshmallows. Guests have access to community games, which the kids played.
Things to do while Camping at the Yurt
Colorado is all about the outdoors, and when checking into the massive Snow Mountain Ranch grounds, you’ll discover plenty to keep you busy. Choose from activities to fit all ages and interests, from my 2-year-old granddaughter to 100! Some of these activities are complimentary, such as free summer concerts, while others require a day pass or additional fees.
- Summer and winter tubing
- Hiking and Biking
- Challenge Course
- Rock Climbing
- Craft shop
- And so much more!!
Our Top Family Favorites at Snow Mountain Ranch
With so many things to do, you’ll never get bored. Our weekend stay went lickety-split and it was over. But we did pack a lot of fun activities that all five of us enjoyed.
Take time to visit Sombrero Stables. Enjoy horseback riding and trail rides in the summer, and sleigh rides and other snow activities in the winter. The granddaughter LOVED the trail ride in a wagon with other kids. She especially enjoyed feeding the horses marshmallows. Who knew horses have a fondness for marshmallows?
I’m a thrill-seeking kind of Grandmom, so I loved the summer tubing hill — that included refreshing sprays of water while riding down its super-size hill. Our granddaughter did also ride the tube twice, once with mom and other with dad, but she did not like it at all.
We also tried our luck at fishing the fully-stocked Gaylord Reservoir. Since it’s on private property, no fishing license was required, and we did rent fishing gear, although guests are welcome to bring their own. We didn’t reel in a big one, but this was our granddaughter’s first fishing adventure, and Papa hooked her one that she almost reeled in. Priceless! (But her favorite lakeside activity was watching the baby ducks!)
Traveling Mom tip: Make it a fun fishing challenge amongst the family. Catch their tagged fish, Rocky the Rainbow Trout, and win a two night stay in Indian Peaks Lodge!
Colorado Camping: Dining Options
If you’re looking for something to eat, keep it a camping experience by bringing your food with you or stock up at the grocery store in Granby. A grill is available so you can keep it simple, affordable and fun.
Or you can take advantage of the YMCA’s affordable meal plans in the cafeteria nearby. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served every day in an all-you-can-eat buffet style dining hall. (We were big fans of their breakfast, especially biscuits and gravy!) Children 5 and under are free.
Other dining options are available in the nearby towns of Winter Park and Granby, a short drive from Colorado camping adventure. And we do have our favorite restaurants: pizza at Hernando’s Pizza Pub and Deno’s Mountain Bistro, both inWinter Park, and in Granby, Chuckwagon Cafe & Bar and Brickhouse 40.