Friday, October 10, 2014

YMCA of the Rockies

The YMCA of the Rockies has two properties, one in Winter Park and one in Estes Park. They offer a military weekend deal that includes your room and meals while you are there. It is an amazing deal.
The YMCA camps have so much to offer. Our kids are not really the right age to take full advantage of it, but we still have a good time.

The Estes Park location looks like Kellerman's from Dirty Dancing. The military deal puts you in one of the hotel rooms, which are great. They are clean and roomy. There are also cabins scattered around the property and the whole place is easily walkable. You can go online to look at the list of activities being offered, but they range from guided hikes and scavenger hunts to parachute time and kickball. There is an arts and crafts center where you can paint pottery, do a mosaic, tyedye a shirt or make jewelry for the cost of the materials. There is a library where you can check out books and games for the duration of the stay. There is a little museum that shows the history of the property and the cabins. There is also a put put course and indoor pool. There are hiking trails on property and some that head into Rocky Mountain National Park. Elk and Deer wonder from the park right onto the property making an after dinner walk a must.

For an extra fee there is a ropes course and horseback riding available. These looked really fun, but really out of our age range. The hiking center has kidcarrier, hiking shoes and sticks you can borrow as well. We were signed up for an evening ride and S'Mores but we were the only ones signed up, so the trip was canceled.

The Winter Park location is a little less scenic, not walk-able but full of winter activities. The highlight here is the Nordic Center. It features an outdoor ice skating rink, snowshoe and cross-country ski rental and courses and a tubing hill. I was pregnant during our visit and even then I couldn't resist just one ride down the side of this hill. Winter Park has a smaller arts and craft area, but offers many of the same activities. The winter park gym is larger though and has roller skating, a climbing wall, indoor archery, fuseball and all the "gym" equipment you could ask for. The indoor pool had a climbing wall and a slide.

We had my mom with us on the trip to Winter Park so we went on an evening sled ride with S'Mores, sans kids. That was so fun! For an additional cost there is horseback riding here as well.

If you do the military deal I will say the food is average. Its exactly what you would expect for serving that many people. They always have a salad bar, at both locations, so that is always an option if you aren't feeling the meal choice.

The volunteers and staff at both locations went out of their way for us. We signed up for several activities that didn't have enough people and they went out of their way to find people so my kids could play with the parachute or complete the scavenger hunt.

If you are military there is no excuse, go sign up right now. It will be a family fun weekend you won't soon forget.

update: We were selected as a "military family" to stay in a cabin at the Estes Park location for a few days from a generous donor (and owner of one of the cabins.) We decided to head up over New Year's and celebrate amid the winter wonderland that is Rocky Mountain National Park.

Covered Skating Rink 
No surprise, we had a wonderful time! The little guy still loves the library. In winter the
y show a Disney money at 2pm on Saturday's. If your the first to arrive you get to pick the movie. We also participated in several activities in the gym. The kids love running around in the big open space and participating in group activities. H is finally old enough to "play" some board games so we checked a few out from Sweet Memorial to take to the room. The books, board games and deer wondering by our cabin were more then enough to keep us occupied between events!

If you want outdoor winter recreation there is plenty to be found. We went sledding on property behind the cabin with a few other families. You can rent snow shoes from the Sweet Memorial building, although when we were there we were advised just to get the chains for our shoes and were glad that is all we had. (Other families were carrying their snow shoes since there wasn't quite enough snow.) There is an ice skating rink set up in a covered area. Sweet Memorial has ice skates to borrow, including double blade ones for the kids, starting at size 8. They also open up a skating pond, although it was opening the Monday after we left.

We also attended one of the winter ranger programs at the Rocky Mountain National Park visitors center on winter animals. Although the talk is geared at older children our kids, even the 8 month old, enjoyed touching all the pelts.

So another successful trip! We plan to go back in the spring with some friends for one last visit before we say goodbye to Colorado.

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