My YMCA of the Rockies Adventure in Estes Park, Colo.

The grounds are spread out across grassy open spaces dotted with cabins and activities such as archery, soccer, an aerial course, zipline, and horseback riding.
By Ali Pfenninger ,

The YMCA of the Rockies is like summer camp for the whole family.

Stepping out onto my balcony at Wind River Lodge at the YMCA of the Rockies brought a smile to my face as I sat out on the patio and enjoyed my morning cup of coffee. I felt entirely immersed by the grander of the Rocky Mountains as I noticed they surrounded me on all sides providing spectacular views. The bluebird sky began to part its way through a thin layer of clouds as the sun peaked out to welcome a new day of activity and relaxation at the YMCA.

Upon entering the information center, I quickly learned that the YMCA of the Rockies had a wide range of activities being offered that would easily fit the accommodations of different people and age groups. The grounds themselves are spread out across grassy open spaces and are intertwined with towering pine trees thus maintaining the perfect mountain-get-away feel.

Horseback riding at the YMCA of the Rockies

Ali Pfenninger

Ziplining at the YMCA of the Rockies.

Ali Pfenninger

Horse and wagon ride in Estes Park

Photo courtesy of YMCA of the Rockies

The day was young so I picked up a trail map from the Estes Park Center to help guide my day of exploration. Endless activities take place at the YMCA and range from both daily free and fee-based options ranging from miniature golf to horseback riding on shaded trails to ziplining through dense woods. Setting out on my walk that morning I decided to take the back woods loop where I would pass by the archery range and rock-climbing wall. The hike was not strenuous but rather decorated with an array of yellow wildflowers that made for a delightful mid-morning stroll.

Archery range at the YMCA in Estes Park near RMNP.

Ali Pfenninger

Climbing wall at the YMCA of the Rockies

Ali Pfenninger

After stopping at the archery area and climbing wall, I found myself following the sound of water and stumbled upon a river running parallel to the activity sites. I walked down to the edge and sat against a large rock wishing I had my book, as it would’ve been the perfect place to relax in the serenity of rushing water. From horseback riding through wooded areas or participating in bonfires at night after a day of swimming, YMCA has a lot to offer. You can either explore using an itinerary based on reservations and information included in the brochure picked up among checking in or go off on your own to take in the scenery provided by the Rockies—both are recommended!

Cabin at the YMCA in Estes Park, Colorado near Rocky Mountain National Park

Ali Pfenninger

The lodges and cabins add a special element to this already great vacation spot. YMCA of the Rockies is filled with spaciously placed cabins and vacation homes as well as central lodges positioned close to the parks center. The lodges may be good for couples staying for the night to get away or a family of four who would like to stay close to the dining hall and activities. An added plus to the lodges are their complimentary dining hall breakfast, free Wifi and fresh towels. I enjoyed my stay at Wind River lodge due to its proximity in relation to the main dining center and visitor center.

Cabins at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park Colorado

Ali Pfenninger

Lodging at the YMCA near Rocky Mountain National Park

Ali Pfenninger

The cabins are specifically a drawing point for people coming to the YMCA of the Rockies due to the variety of lodging. Whether you are coming for a family reunion in the retreat cabins or a weekend getaway with the kids—the options will suffice differing group sizes and location preferences.

I explored the windy roads that wrap around the central grounds to lead way to cabins hidden under Ponderosas and away from the activities if you are looking for seclusion. Others sit atop vistas overlooking the park and ranges in the distance while remaining within walking distance to the daily activities. Most cabin rentals are dog friendly and all have kitchens and are cozily furnished to provide you with the feeling of a home away from home. The rustic yet humble feel of the cabins creates the perfect outdoor experience and if you appreciate what nature has to offer like I do, the YMCA of Estes will create treasured memories all in the heights of the Rockies.

For More Information:

YMCA Estes Park Center
2515 Tunnel Road, Estes Park, CO 80511
(888) 612-9622

YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch
1101 County Road 53, Granby, CO 80446
(970) 887-2152

YMCA Camp Chief Ouray
PO Box 648, Granby, CO 80446
(970) 887-2648

Video by Gunnar Sikorski