by Amanda Geronikos
It is nearly impossible to describe YMCA of the Rockies and how special it truly is for families. It’s not your local YMCA — it’s a full-fledge resort just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, with endless activities (including its own museum), family-friendly lodging, dining options and good old-fashioned fun.
In fact, the resort advises guests to leave their iPads and iPods at home — it’s all about disconnecting at YMCA of the Rockies. Think of it as a summer camp for families.
There’s no need to leave this destination resort once you arrive (excursions to Rocky Mountain National Park can be arranged onsite), but if you and the kids decide to venture out on your own, downtown Estes Park is just a few minutes away, offering restaurants (including a brewery), shops and an old movie theater.
Our Editor Loves
- Endless outdoor activities
- Feeling of being at summer camp
- Views of Rocky Mountain National Park
- Horse Back Riding
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Lodge Rooms come in three variations: Wind River (sleeps five; balcony or patio), Alpen Inn (sleeps six; balcony), and Eastside Lodges (sleeps six). All rooms feature kitchenettes.
Cabins and Vacation Homes
Families can rent cabins or vacation homes with two, three or four bedrooms and full kitchens; two-bedroom units sleep five, three-bedroom lodges sleep seven, and four-bedroom homes accommodate 10. Most of the cabins and vacation homes also have fireplaces.
by Julia W
This was our first visit to the YMCA and we really enjoyed our stay. Loved all the on site activities like the craft lodge, mini golf, bingo and other fun activities at Sweet, library story time and parachute games for our toddler. The playground over by the craft lodge was fantastic as well. Would love to see updates made to the pool, especially the locker rooms. We cooked most of our own food or visited local restaurants but we did get pizza delivered from the YMCA cafe twice and it was pretty good and so convenient having it brought to our cabin! I recommend downloading the YMCA app so that you can easily access the daily schedules! This came in handy as we planned our days.
Our cabin (Iowa) was clean and met our needs but being an older cabin there were some huge differences between ours and the new one my parents were in (Faithful). Their kitchen was well appointed, mattresses were comfortable, and they had nice couches. They also had box fans in the closets. Our cabin (Iowa) had very old and uncomfortable mattresses and couches and there were no fans. My parents loaned us one of theirs. Ceiling fans or box fans in each cabin would be great for those of us visiting in the summer or that can't sleep without some air movement. We did most all of our cooking up at their cabin because our kitchen only had a tiny skillet big enough for a single pancake so it took forever to make breakfast! They also had a nice fridge with an ice maker whereas ours was older and you had to refill ice trays.
I wouldn't mine the things our cabin lacked except we paid $250 a night for it and my parents paid $250 a night for theirs and there was a HUGE difference in amenities between the two. I think the pricing should not be the same across the board for the cabins when they are so different. We did love the location of our cabin. It was quiet and peaceful down by the mountain center.
Visiting over the 4th we though the Y would be busy and crowded but everything is so spread out that we never felt that way. We had no problem scheduling horseback riding or massages. Estes Park was super busy but we tried to avoid trips down there as much as possible which was easy since the Y has so much to offer! Having our own kitchen was very convenient especially because the majority of the restaurants in Estes Park close at 8pm and only a few stay open til 9pm. Very strange for a tourist area.
Finally, big shout out to the nurse in the first aid cabin. My husband and I both got strep throat on this trip and while I was able to convince the only local doctor's office to take me as a walk in, when my husband tried to do the same they were very difficult about it and told us to drive down to Longmont to an urgent care. The YMCA nurse called the office manager and convinced them to let my husband come in. This clinic was an urgent care until a couple of days before our vacation and now that they have changed to primary care there are no urgent cares in Estes Park. Just something to be aware of, especially if you are traveling with kids that get sick easily! Despite our illness we still had a relaxing and wonderful vacation. Can't wait to go back and enroll our kids in the day camp!
Spent the July 4th weekend at the YMCA camp. Busy but so many activities. Hot so you need fans in the room. My Grandchildren had fun with the free miniature golf, 4 squares and other games. Food buffets have various varieties and all you can eat. Saw elk and deer on property.
The resort offers specialty camps for all ages and interests, such as a Dragons, Fairies & Princess Camp for little ones, and backpacking programs for teens. Daytime programs are also offered for non-guests in the event parents would like a day to hike by themselves.
The hotel has a full schedule of programming, including guided excursions to Rocky Mountain National Park, seminars and holiday events.
In addition to its multitude of camps and programming, YMCA of the Rockies offers countless activities onsite, including the following:
- Horseback riding
- Swimming (pool)
- Spa treatments
Lula W. Dorsey Museum
Learn about the history of YMCA of the Rockies at this small museum onsite. The museum has been open since 1979, but the resort's history spans more than a century, once operating as a summer school for men. The museum is free to enter.
The resort has its own chapel, where services are hosted throughout the week. Some people also marry at the chapel onsite!
Aspen Dining Room
The Aspen Dining Room offers an all-you-can-eat buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a salad bar and desserts included. Children 5 and under eat free. Situated in a cafeteria-style setting, the restaurant is open 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., closing briefly between meals.
Pine Room Restaurant
Open in the summer, Pine Room Restaurant is the resort's fine dining option. On Sundays, you can enjoy a lavish brunch, and on weekdays, prime rib is offered.
Rustic CafÃ© serves soups, salads, sandwiches, and coffees -- perfect to grab and go for a picnic lunch at the resort or in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Y's Guy Pizza
This pizza joint serves delicious pies and salads in the summer months. Eat in or take back to your cabin or room.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Complimentary Wi-Fi is provided at the resort; it may be spotty in some of the lodges, but works well in most of the communal spaces.
Up to two pets are welcome in most accommodations for a nominal nightly charge.
The Art of Smart Timing
YMCA of the Rockies and Estes Park, Colorado are most popular during the summertime, when you can take advantage of all of the outdoor activities -- particularly at the resort.
The closest airport to Estes Park is Denver International Airport, about 1.5 hours away. You'll likely lose cell service when driving through Roosevelt National Forest, but don't worry about getting lost -- there's only one main road into Estes Park. Once you reach the town, you'll have service again.
You'll want a car to get around this resort, which seems to go on, and on, and on! Plenty of free parking is available.