Last weekend, I stayed in a yurt for the very first time.
I’ve been wanting to forever. Long before we had kids, my husband and I were on a road trip where we saw a flier for some and we’ve always wanted to do it, if for no other reason than it’s fun to say “yurt.” Yurt, yurt, yurty yurt. Try it. It’s amusing.
So when the lovely people at the Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA invited us to stay in one, I jumped at it.
My kids were so excited. “Wait, is it a tent? Is it a cabin?” Yep. For you yurting novices, it’s kind of both. It has tent walls, but also electricity and actual beds. I’d camp every weekend if I could sleep in an actual bed.
…and this was our view every day. Snow Mountain Ranch is near Granby, by the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park so you get to stare at this. Not bad.
Guests staying at the YMCA also have access to tons of activities — most are free, some have a small fee. We began our day at the cafeteria for breakfast (you can purchase meal plans for your stay, or you can grill and cook at your campsite). Then, we had a little downtime. The kids just explored, played card games, read, and chilled for an hour or so. And you know what? We needed that. Sometimes I plan all kinds of activities for the summer, when really what we need is to sit and chill out and be together as a family.
A little while later, we headed out to our first “big” activity — ziplining! This was for kids 8 and up, so my youngest had to cheer us on from the ground (she’ kept yelling “Happy Birthday!” with great enthusiasm) But I was so proud of my nine-year old. He got to the zipline, looked up at it, and said, “Hm. Nope. I’m staying down here.” We tried to convince him to go up, but he wasn’t having it. Finally, he put on the harness. And a few minutes later, he climbed the ladder, after his older brother, “just to see.”
I didn’t push him, I just watched and let him make his own decision. And pretty soon, this happened:
After lunch, we headed to the summer tubing hill. All of my kids participated in this (it’s for anyone over 2 years old, though younger kids need to ride with an adult.) I was wondering how my youngest would do, so we took it nice and slow. And then I discovered she was kind of a maniac.
By our second trip down, she was spinning and yelling. I shouldn’t have been surprised. One of the greatest things about this hill is that they have misters spraying on the way down — so you get cooled off while you’re tubing. Brilliant. Summer tubing is free for guests at the ranch (helmets are also free, so we made sure to get those as well). You do need to make reservations in advance, though. You can find more info and make reservations here.
After summer tubing, we had an archery lesson, where the kids got some good tips and practiced their shooting. You can learn more about archery here.
Then (are you tired yet? I was getting there, but the kids were still going strong) we headed to the Craft Shop to do a little creating. This was actually the perfect activity for later in the day — the kids could get out of the sun, sit and relax, and paint and unwind before dinner.
If you’re going to do crafts, a lot of the ceramics and painting crafts need to dry or be fired overnight, so be sure to plan for that. You can find more on the Craft Shop here. I like that you can reserve it for parties or reunions, too. I could see this being a really fun family reunion event, and everyone could create something to commemorate their trip.
After dinner, we showered and spent more time at the campsite unwinding and playing for a bit before bed.
The next day, we headed to the waterfall hike. It’s a bit of a drive, some of it on a dirt road, but nothing my minivan couldn’t handle. The hike itself is about 2.5 miles. Toward the end I had to do a lot of encouraging my younger kids, and we took a lot of breaks, but they made it all the way on their own and it paid off!
We saw some beautiful scenery, met some really nice people on the trail, and relaxed and had a snack next to a rushing waterfall. The waterfall hike is, of course, free for guests, and I’d say definitely make time for it.
When we got back to camp, we tried out rollerskating in the Kiva Center, then cooled off at the pool (both free activities for guests) before heading home, happy and very tired from a busy few days.
If you’re planning on staying in the yurts, a few tips:
-they say they sleep six people, which usually makes my husband and me laugh and laugh. Often that means someone’s on the floor, or you cram six people in there with no room to actually move. These really do sleep six, with plenty of room to move around and store all the stuff that comes with six people, too. And since I know it helps to have pictures, here’s what the inside looks like:
My son is sitting on the queen-size bed, and you can see the two bunk beds behind him. There’s also a little indoor table to the right. Not pictured: a larger table, mini fridge, and microwave. You can prep some foods inside, and there’s also a grill and picnic table outside. This is one of the few times we’ve had plenty of room!
-the yurts are not heated. The camp provides light bedding, but you definitely want sleeping bags or very warm blankets and gear. We brought our own sleeping bags, and I actually wish I’d brought hats for everyone to sleep in, too. Even when it’s summer here in Denver, it gets cold overnight in the mountains. And if you shower at night, be sure to dry your hair before bed (dryers are provided in the shower rooms).
-bathrooms and showers are a short walk away. Bring shower shoes and a bag for your toiletries and stuff. The camp does provide towels for showers and swimming.
There are also other accommodations and campsites available at Snow Mountain Ranch. Check out their website for more.
disclosure: We were given complimentary lodging, meals, and activities at Snow Mountain Ranch. No monetary compensation was made and all thoughts and opinions are mine and honest.