Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies Review

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View from Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies
Room with a view. Priceless vistas from our balcony at Snow Mountain Ranch. Credit: Judy Antell
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Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA offers a place to get away, just two hours from Denver. The family friendly resort can be as relaxing or active as you want. And there are so many activities that it’s easy to keep your whole group entertained.

The writer was hosted.

Although my three daughters went to sleepaway camp for many years, my husband never went. So he has a soft spot for family camp-style resorts. Even now, with our daughters (finally!) out of the house (um, maybe?) we enjoy these all-in-one-place family getaways.

And we are not the only ones. On a recent trip to Grand Lake, Colorado, we stayed at the Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies and found several other adults-only groups. There is so much to do here, whether you are with your kids, grandkids or someone else’s kid. Or just an adventure-seeking couple. The ranch is also dog friendly, so it is a great place to bring your furry family companion.

Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies Free Activities

Hawk Quest at Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies
Hawk Quest at Snow Mountain Ranch. Credit: Judy Antell

We visited Snow Mountain Ranch in August 2021, when the wildflowers were in bloom and the hiking and mountain biking trails beckoned.

Guided hikes are offered or you can hike on your own. There is also free miniature golf, and a couple of playgrounds. The adventure zone has a small Zip line, a climbing wall and a pendulum swing.

There is also an indoor pool, a rec center with ping pong, roller skating, basketball and volleyball and tennis courts.

Best of all is the free tubing hill. You have to sign up in advance, but then you can hop on a tube and fly down the hill.

boy tubing at Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies
Free summer tubing at Snow Mountain Ranch, one of the most popular activities. Photo credit: Judy Antell

Check the daily schedule when you arrive. We got to meet a hawk at a Birds of Prey program. Other days include “hanging with huskies” at the dog park, taking a history stroll, playing pickleball or building a fort.

Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies Paid Activities

If you need some alone time, the YMCA offers a day camp for kids in summer.

Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies
Fancy a game of Connect 4? Large scale version outside the bike rental cabin. Credit: Judy Antell

You can rent mountain bikes for the day or half day, and there are kids’ bikes and bike trailers for really young ones. There is also a class where you can learn how to ride a mountain bike. The key is learning how to fall. We biked all over the resort, and into town.

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you bring your own mountain bikes, you can use the trails for free.

The craft shop has a variety of activities, from tie-dyeing to jewelry making to leather work. You pay for each activity.

Crafts Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies
Some of the craft activities at the Snow Mountain Ranch. Photo credit: Judy Antell

The indoor rock climbing wall has an additional fee, as does archery. The canoeing lake was under renovation when we visited; you have to pay for this.

man on a mountain bike at Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies
Rent mountain bikes at Snow Mountain Ranch, or bring your own. Photo credit: Judy Antell

Snow Mountain Ranch Horseback Riding

What’s a ranch without horseback riding? The ranch has one and two hour guided horseback rides, and pony rides for kids ages 3 to 8. There are also wagon or sleigh rides.

All these are open to overnight guests and the general public, but you get a discount if you are staying at the ranch.

Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center

Those hiking trails and mountain biking trails from summer become ski and snowshoe trails when covered with snow. The Nordic Center has cross country and downhill ski rentals, snowshoes and snowboards.

There are also ski lessons for those who need it.

Those huskies that you can hang with in summer are the engine for dog sledding in winter. This is a popular program, so reserve in advance.

Snow Mountain Ranch Lodging

Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies
View of other lodges from our balcony at Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies. Credit: Judy Antell

Snow Mountain Ranch has four lodges, each with rooms that can sleep four to six people. Rates start at just $84 per night for guest lodge rooms, with a discount for Y members. Rooms are basic but comfortable. There is no air conditioning – you’ll never need it – but the screen door to our balcony was torn and we had a few flies buzzing around.

Some rooms have bunkbeds; others have 2 queen beds plus a sofa bed.

There is also no TV, but there is a large room with a piano that anyone can use. The quiet hours, from 10 pm – 7 am, ensured a great night’s sleep.

Family cabins, with two to five bedrooms, have fireplaces and full kitchens. Advance planners can stay in a yurt in summer. Which sounds cool until you realize you have to use a communal bathroom.

Dining at Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily in Schlessman Commons, an all-you-can-eat buffet style dining hall. There is a salad bar, hot food and vegan and gluten free options. There is also plenty of fresh fruit, and you can take your food outside. The food was fresh and tasty, and there was a large assortment of hot sauce in case you need to spice things up.

The Buckboard Grill has sandwiches, pizza, big salads and sushi. You can eat there, inside or out, or take food to go.

In winter, there is a cafe open for all meals, with soups, sandwiches and baked goods.

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If you like to have a glass of wine with dinner (or lunch, no judgment), note that Snow Mountain Ranch does not serve alcohol. You are, however, allowed to have it in your room or on the balcony and we saw a big family gathering in the lodge, complete with a giant cooler filled with beer.

Rooms have refrigerators, so you can chill your drinks.

Of course, you can also go into town (Fraser or Winter Park) for a meal, too. We biked in to Fraser for iced coffee at Rocky Mountain Roastery Cafe, where we also got delicious baked goods. The cafe shares its space with Queen Bee Gardens, where we got local honey and chocolates to bring home. OK, we ate the chocolates, but we thought about bringing them home.

Snow Mountain Ranch Weather

Blue skies at Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies
Blue skies in summer. Perfect for hiking, biking and all sorts of outdoor activities. Credit: Judy Antell

Summer is a wonderful time in Snow Mountain Ranch. Days are warm and nights are cool. Bring a jacket! Also bring rain gear because late in the day, storms can roll in. You may also want to check the forecast. The week after we left, there was so much snow that roads into Rocky Mountain National Park were closed.

That snow is great news for those going in winter. Which includes fall and spring in Colorado. Snow here is measured in feet, not inches. So you will have plenty of white stuff for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and dog sledding.

Extras at Snow Mountain Ranch

Snow Mountain Ranch has electric vehicle charging stations. There are also non-denominational religious services on Sunday mornings. There is a beautiful outdoor chapel on a hilltop.

If all these on site activities aren’t enough, you can go hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, white water rafting on the Colorado River or explore the small Grand County towns like Granby and Grand Lake. And the sister property, Estes Park Center, offers yoga, axe throwing and an escape room.


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