Awesome outdoor activities. Spacious accommodations. Stunning snow-capped mountain views. And that one thing you always seem to be trying to get more of – time with your kids. Think you have to spend a lot of money to get all this out of a winter vacation? No way. Just plan a visit to Snow Mountain Ranch, a year-round resort owned and operated by YMCA of the Rockies.
Located near Winter Park, Rocky Mountain National Park & Grand Lake – about 80 miles west of Denver – Snow Mountain Ranch offers a wholesome environment, tranquil setting, and unlimited opportunities for your family to spend quality time together having fun!
Once considered a bare-bones budget choice, YMCA family camps have made some significant upgrades and now appeal to more families seeking vacations that are active, outdoorsy, and totally unplugged. Because it is run by the not-for-profit YMCA, Snow Mountain Ranch is still downright affordable, with rooms starting at around $100 per night, a rate that includes a wide array of activities.
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Fun on the Slopes
Families flock to Snow Mountain Ranch in the wintertime for its Nordic Center, which offers 75 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, plus ice skating, sledding, tubing, and sleigh rides.
The Nordic Center offers loads of snow-filled adventures for people of all ages and experience levels. Even beginners can enjoy the white stuff here; novice skiers can do short loops around the Nordic Center while more experienced skiers can choose from longer trails and steeper slopes.
The Nordic Center’s full-service ski shop offers great deals on lessons and ski and snowshoe rental packages. They also sell the latest snow gear and apparel in case you don’t already have your own.
The Great Indoors
When you need a break from the cold, come on in warm up with one of many indoor activities available at Snow Mountain Ranch. The Kiva Center is where you’ll find loads of indoor recreation, including roller-skating, basketball, volleyball, ping-pong and a craft shop. There is also an indoor swimming pool, sauna and a library. As a Snow Mountain Ranch guest, there is no additional charge for use of these activities.
For those who want to get a taste of one of Colorado’s most favored pastimes, the Kiva Center features a 22-foot indoor rock climbing wall for a small fee.
Accommodations at Snow Mountain Ranch
Accommodations available in the wintertime include hotel-style lodge rooms, cabins and vacation homes. Snow Mountain Ranch has four lodges, each with rooms that comfortably sleep four to six people. Rates start at just $79 per night for guest lodge rooms. For larger groups and families, Snow Mountain Ranch offers family cabins varying in size from two to five bedrooms, with rates starting at $159 per night. All cabins have a fireplace and are fully furnished and stocked with cooking and dining utensils, pots, pans, coffee makers, linens and towels.
Cabins are extremely popular and tend to fill up first, so try and make your reservations as far in advance as possible. Keep in mind, member requests are processed first, so if you are not already a member of YMCA of the Rockies, it may pay to sign up. Members also receive a discount at Snow Mountain Ranch and its sister property, Estes Park Center.
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Dining at Snow Mountain Ranch
Part of what makes the Snow Mountain Ranch experience so convenient and affordable is their great variety of dining options. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day in an all-you-can-eat buffet style dining hall, Schlessman Commons. The buffet features a fresh salad bar, delicious desserts and a variety of homemade specialties. Not on the menu but equally enjoyable are the majestic mountain views you’ll get with every meal.
Renting a cabin with a kitchen is another good way to save money on food. The Buckboard Grill & Grocery, located in the resort’s Administration Building, offers snacks, sandwiches, and a nice selection of grocery items. This is the way to go if you decide to prepare your own meals.
The Skinny Ski Café is the other eatery onsite, conveniently located on the second level of the Nordic Center and open during the ski season.
Winter Bliss on a Budget
True, there are far more posh resorts in Colorado, and if you have the money to splurge on a winter vacation these places will happily deliver you into the lap of luxury. But if you are looking for a budget-friendly, clean and comfortable family destination packed with exciting activities, the YMCA’s Snow Mountain Ranch is worth your consideration. And hey, you still get to enjoy the same glorious sunshine, crisp mountain air, pristine snow and breathtaking landscapes as the people staying at those pricey resorts. When you’re out on the slopes bonding with your family, isn’t that what really counts?
For more information and reservations at Snow Mountain Ranch, visit www.snowmountainranch.org or call 888-613-9622.