Here’s a great travel tip from writer Debra Borchert
Just a two-hour drive from Denver, the YMCA Estes Park Center shares three of its borders with 416 square-miles of Rocky Mountain National Park. You won’t find a more conveniently located, affordable, eco- and family-friendly place to stay.
Renowned for hosting thousands of family reunions, the YMCA also offers single-family accommodations that range from refurbished dormitories to brand-spanking-new green lodges.
Many of the rustic cabins and vacation homes feature fireplaces and outdoor picnic tables—all sport queen and bunk beds, private bathrooms, and complete kitchens. Basic cabins sleeping 4–10 s and vacation homes sleeping 7–12. Pets are welcomed at family cabins for a small daily fee.
Want to cook your meals? Get a cabin—some are equipped with dishwashers and microwaves. In the mood for prime rib, an elk burger, or deep-fried dill pickles? Reserve a table at the Pine Room. The family chef wants a break? Line up for buffet meals served in the Aspen Lodge or chow down at an All-You-Can-Eat Cookout. Need a snack? Grab a panini, huckleberry muffin, or latté at the Rustic Café.
The YMCA also delivers great entertainment, whatever your generation. A few of the activities listed in the weekly 24-page program: square dances, archery, mountain biking, concerts, horseback and pony riding, woodcarving, fly fishing, silk painting, a ropes course, water exercise, and miniature golf.
Family-centric activities are plentiful: join a Bubbles Hour, or an Animal Detective or Bugs, Bugs, Bugs walk. Kids over 8 can scale a 30-foot outdoor climbing wall, and ages 12 and up can traverse cables and ride a 150-foot zip-line—with or without parents. Teens hang-out at their own pool parties, scavenger hunts, and campfires. All ages can join in on hay rides, marshmallow roasts, and sing-alongs with Cowboy Brad. Even Fido has Yappy Hour.
If you leave the car and take a 15-minute, creekside walk amongst ponderosa pines you can catch the shuttle through the Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll help protect the environment and save the $20 per car entrance fee.
By catching a ride, you’ll not only leave the driving to those accustomed to serpentine roads, but you’ll also fully appreciate the dizzying, precipitous mountain vistas. Each turn reveals glacier-covered basins, slopes blanketed in aspen and lodgepole pine, waterfalls plummeting through forest-filled canyons, alpine lakes lined in marsh marigold, and meadows of columbine, fireweed, and snow buttercups.
For those rare individuals who want to relax on their vacations, take out a book at the Maude Jellison Library, or tour a restored cabin or the Lula W. Dorsey Museum. You can always rock the night away in one of the many hickory-wood chairs decorating the lodge’s great porch.
Yep, it’s still fun to stay at the YMCA.