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When you hear “YMCA,” do you think of the song? The local community center with a gym, swimming pool, and after-school programs? Those aren’t the only YMCAs in the United States! YMCA lodges and cabins are the best-kept affordable family vacation secret. Unplug and get active together without breaking the budget at the YMCA of the Rockies, located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, a short drive from Denver.
Our family has always been fans of the outdoors. But as my family expanded into a larger multigenerational family with 5 adult kids, their spouses, 8 grandchildren, and now 1 great-granddaughter, finding affordable accommodations for all of us is next to impossible.
Even if your family hasn’t multiplied like ours, say hello to your new special place, the YMCA of the Rockies.
Affordable Vacations at the YMCA of the Rockies
There are two Colorado YMCA of the Rockies facilities, one in Grandby and the other in Estes Park. Both are just a Colorado road trip away from Denver in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. These two year-round conference and family vacation centers provide access to nearly 6,000 acres, with a range of accommodations to fit every budget. And the parking is always free!
Estes Park Center is minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park, and Snow Mountain Ranch is just a short distance from Winter Park, Grand Lake, and the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Both locations offer family-friendly cabins and lodges (some with wrap-around porches).
Free-roaming elk and deer, and mountain vistas stretch as far as the eye can see. No matter the season, our family keeps busy with all the outdoor adventures and activities.
NOTE: 2020 has presented many challenges to travel due to the pandemic, and this property has stepped up with Covid-19 and social distancing protocols. In addition, some activities may have limited availability or be canceled altogether.
YMCA of the Rockies: Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby, Colorado
Both YMCA of the Rockies’ locations are about the same distance from my home in Denver metro, but we tend to gravitate to the Granby location. Snow Mountain Ranch, is located in Grand County, Colorado, just 12 miles from Winter Park and just over 90 miles from Denver. It’s also 33 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park and Grand Lake.
This 5,000-acre getaway offers a variety of affordable accommodations, including 170 hotel-style lodge rooms, 50 cabins (perfect for a family reunion) with fireplaces, and campgrounds (RV parking and tent sites), and yurts.
Staying at Snow Mountain Ranch
For one of our multigenerational family winter getaways, we stayed at a 4-bedroom family cabin that included a full kitchen. We meal planned and we cooked many of our own meals.
I liked the disconnect from the bustle of the ski resort and the feeling that we really are away from it all. The additional space and the mountain views from the deck sealed the vacation. (Bonus: free WiFi!)
TravelingMom TIP: Good news for larger families is that Snow Mountain also offers up to 5 bedroom cabins! These larger units do book quickly, so pre-planning is a must if you need more room.
Bring the Dogs!
For a fresh alternative to camping or having to pack all your supplies, check into the Indian Peaks Lodge, a pet friendly hotel.
This past summer, our multigenerational family of 6, plus our two dogs spent two nights in these rooms. We loved that the sliding glass doors of our two ground-floor rooms opened onto wide-open spaces, perfect for the dogs. For the kids, the minute walk to the playground was a bonus too.
RV and tent campsites and yurts are another family fun option, and you can read more about our family’s Snow Mountain Ranch yurt adventure here.
Estes Park Center – YMCA of the Rockies
Surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park, the Estes Park Center is located on 860 acres just outside of the village of Estes Park, Colorado, and 74 miles northwest of Denver.
While I haven’t visited this location, my daughter, her husband and my two grandchildren often book weekend getaways to the Estes Park Center. My granddaughter caught her first fish there, and their family often travel with other families for stays in their cabins.
Accommodations at Estes Park Center
Choose from affordable pet-friendly cabins (2, 3, and 4-bedrooms) or hotel-style lodge rooms with common areas.
Just as the sister property in Granby, this destination allows families to be together, unplug, and experience Colorado’s outdoors.
Dining Options at YMCA of the Rockies
For those staying in cabins, take advantage of full kitchens and save money with meal planning, and preparing your own meals. Alternatively, three meals a day are served at the buffet-style dining rooms.
In addition, dozens of dining options are available at nearby Colorado towns: Estes Park, Winter Park, Granby, and Grand Lake.
Things to do at YMCA of the Rockies
With its convenient access to Rocky Mountain National Park, one of America’s premier national parks, families can explore the endless activities in the park at Estes Park Center. For those at Snow Mountain Ranch, it’s a 30-minute drive, but still worth the trip.
From wildlife watching to incredible hikes to a simple road trip through the park, each visit we discover something new.
Adventures at both of the kid-friendly YMCA of the Rockies properties begins at check-in when we get our wristbands (included with lodging). They give us entry to many free and affordable indoor and outdoor activities. Day Passes are available to those not staying. Children 5 and under are free.
Families with younger children will love that the center’s facilities are all within easy walking distance of the guest accommodations. Complimentary free activities and facilities are available at both properties, while other activities are offered at an additional cost.
Seasonal Activities at YMCA of the Rockies
Seasonal activities can include hiking (self-guided and guided), ice skating, snowshoeing, sledding, snow tubing, indoor game room, library, Dorsey Museum, indoor pool, roller skating rink, gym, horseback riding, archery, zip line, climbing, rafting, mountain biking, and a variety of family year-round programs.
The climbing wall, hiking, rafting, fly-fishing, and mountain biking are top draws. You’ll also find an indoor swimming pool, basketball courts, skate park, tennis courts, and an 18-hole mini-golf course.
Snow Mountain Stables in Granby also offers a different view of the scenery when taking a Sleigh/Wagon Ride or horseback ride. You can also take advantage of easy access to nearby fishing, boating, and rafting.
Family Reunions or Retreats
With so much space available, either one of the two YMCA of the Rockies is the perfect location for family reunions or retreats.
Every year, the YMCA of the Rockies hosts more than 800 family reunions, 180,000 family vacationers, 1,200 conferences, 300 military families, and 2,000 Camp Chief Ouray summer camp guests. That’s why these affordable YMCA getaways book quickly.