YMCA of the Rockies

When you think of the YMCA you probably think of a workout class or a pick up game of basketball. But did you know that the YMCA owns a stunning 800+ acre facility at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Let me introduce you to the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado.

The YMCA of the Rockies is a facility that offers lodging along with daily activities and sporting amenities. I compare it to summer camp but for families!  During our weekend stay we were able to participate in classes teaching us about bears, wolves and how to start a fire without matches. We also played basketball, rollerskating, swimming, sledding, ice skating and archery.

There were so many activities that we were busy the whole weekend without any need to leave the facility grounds.

The activities are rotated throughout the seasons so every visit can be unique. We’re already thinking about coming back for axe throwing and horseback riding in the warmer months. 

Most activities are included with your stay but some activities like archery and the climbing wall are an additional $10 per person.

If all these activities aren’t for you, don’t worry. The lodge is also located right next to Rocky Mountain National Park. So you can spend your day hiking and taking in the views of this stunning park and rest your head at the YMCA in the evening. The town of Estes Park also offers a wide variety of shopping and entertainment, just watch out for those Elk 🙂 

Things to Know

There is a wide variety of lodging options on the property. There are hotel rooms, cabins and there are some areas set up for large family reunions or group lodging. Check out the website for all the details. 

If you don’t want to stay the night, the YMCA also offers day passes. You can spend the day participating in all the activities and using the amenities such as the pool. 

If staying in lodging, the activities signup will open up online 2 weeks before your stay. Most activities are free and have no participant limit. However, things like archery, the climbing wall, axe throwing, etc. do have a limit and a $10 fee per person. If you want to participate in these activities I would recommend signing up as soon as available.

The Y also provides lots of equipment rentals (typically for free). This includes kids life vests at the pool, hiking boots, ice skates, sleds, mobility strollers, hiking poles and much more. This makes it very convenient for people who are arriving via plane. You can pack light knowing that the rest will be provided there. 

Overall, we had a great experience. This is the perfect spot for families to spend quality time together while enjoying those stunning Rocky Mountain views. Happy Travels!

Woodland Aquatic Center

Finding an indoor pool in Southern Colorado can be a bit difficult. Unless you have a gym membership, your options are to fork out big money for Great Wolf or pay for a day pass at the YMCA. But don’t worry! I’m here to give you another option…. Woodland Aquatic Center.

Woodland Aquatic Center in Woodland Park is the perfect family-friendly indoor pool. It has a lovely zero entry portion with a small kids splash area.

It also has a lazy river, fountains, jetted seats, a large slide and a regular pool area. In addition to these features in the main pool, there is a second pool designated just for lap swimming. There is something for everyone. 

The center offers large family changing rooms and locker rooms. They even have a party room if you’re thinking about hosting a swim party but want to keep the cake and gifts dry. They offer extended hours during the school holidays so check out their Facebook page to get the latest updates. 

Since you have already made the drive up to Woodland Park, you can combine the aquatic center with a trip over to the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Research Center and maybe grab a donut at the Donut Mill. The aquatic center also happens to be on the way to/from Rampart Reservoir, which boasts some great fishing and hiking. Make a day of it. Happy Swimming!

Skyline Drive

What exactly am I looking at here?

Those bumps…they are…dinosaur tracks!!

A lot of dinosaur tracks!

According to the info board, these are the tracks of multiple different dinosaur types that walked across an ancient river delta. We are viewing the prints from below. Once you see the outlines you can’t unsee it. 

How do you find these tracks? Well these beauts are found on Skyline Drive on the outskirts of Cañon City, Colorado.

Skyline Drive is a stunning paved road that goes along the top of a ridge line. You must leave the town of Cañon City to start the drive (as it is one way) but you will finish in town. The road is very narrow but there are pull offs with stunning views.

The dinosaur tracks are located toward the beginning of the road and there is information boards posted at the pull off as your clue as where to stop. At the end of the drive you will come across the parking area for Hogback Open Space. There is a well maintained trail system here and there are more information boards along the trails about the different fossils and footprints. This is also worth a stop.

Skyline Drive is a quick but unique drive that can’t be missed when visiting Cañon City. It is accessible by all car types. Just remember to take it slow and enjoy the views!

Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is a popular ski destination in Colorado. People love to head there in the Winter but I argue that Fall may be the best time to head up to the Boat.

We ventured up to Steamboat the first week of October. The weather was gorgeous, the leaves were turning, and we were able to do so much. Here are some things we checked out with our kiddos in tow.

Fish Creek Falls

Fish Creek Falls is a very popular waterfall hike. There are several trail options from the parking lot. We started on the Overlook Trail that is rated easy and is considered wheelchair and stroller friendly.

From the Overlook Trail, you can connect to the short Picnic Trail that will lead you down to the Fish Creek National Recreation Trail. The Picnic Trail has several picnic areas with excellent shade and a restroom. The Fish Creek Trail will bring you down to the Creek and to the historic bridge. This part was again an easy hike but it is not paved and is not wheelchair or stroller friendly.

There are great views and fun creek access near the bridge. You can continue on the trail and up to the Upper Falls area, which is supposed to be stunning. This part of the trail is considered difficult with steep rocky areas so we stuck to the lower falls with the kids. 

There is a parking lot here. You must pay to park but it is free for National Park Annual Pass holders. Get to this trailhead early as the parking lot was full by the time we left. 

West Lincoln Park

West Lincoln Park is one of the many parks that line up against the Yampa River. This park is also home to the Sulfur Springs and the Soda Springs

This park also has a nice playground, a pond, and a rocky beach area that makes for excellent river access for the kids. Warning: the sulfur springs smell like….sulfur. So the whole area has a rotten egg kind of smell to it but come on! It’s an adventure.

Steamboat Creates is also located just across the river from this park. They have different classes and activities at their building so check them out.

Yampa River Botanic Park

Another hidden gem of Steamboat is the Yampa River Botanic Park. It is a really lovely and well maintained garden and is worth a stop. Did I mention it was free?

There is a small children’s garden and an activity book for kids that is available. 

The Botanic Park is located in Emerald Park. This park has a playground, open areas, soccer fields and a bathroom with water refill stations. Parking is free. 

Old Town Hot Springs

Strawberry Hot Springs gets all the attention in Steamboat but the Old Town Hot Springs is the place to go if you have kiddos in tow. These hot springs are located in town and are extremely kid friendly. There are pools with varying temperatures including a much cooler kids pool that is 2ft deep. There is a climbing wall, slides, and even lap pools along with the regular soaking pools. I strongly recommended the Old Town Hot Springs for families.

Other Places around Town

Quick rundown of some other places/things you might want to check out while you are in town:

The Steamboat Art Museum is free.

Off the Beaten Path Bookstore is a really lovely bookstore and great place to get a coffee.

Lightning the horse is just outside FM Light & Sons store. Kids can get on for a quick photo. It is kind of a tradition.

Buffalo Pass is just outside of town and has amazing mountain biking and hiking. This road does turn to dirt prior to the parking lot. It is also extremely popular so go early for a spot.

The entire river walk is gorgeous. You can spot steam popping up from different hot springs. Tubing down the river is very popular throughout the summer. It is a great place to spend some time relaxing and enjoying this beautiful area. 

Steamboat Springs has lots to offer no matter the season. Happy Travels!

Breckenridge Troll

Ok I know we are all excited to go visit Isak. Who’s Isak? You don’t know Isak Heartstone?? I bet you do actually, because that’s the official name of the very popular Breckenridge Troll. Now let me tell you how to find him.

You will find Isak at the end of the Trollstigen Trail. This trail starts at the parking lot of the Stephen C West Ice Arena. Not the most glamorous location to begin, but hey at least there is parking!

The trail is very short and flat. It is family friendly but it can get muddy at times so beware. There is a loop around so that people can come in, get their photos, and then get out without too much congestion. Again a very short trail and it won’t take much time at all to reach him. However, he is totally worth visiting.

After visiting Isak and getting your photo, you can check out the Illinois Gulch Trailhead, which is also located in this same area. If you are traveling with small kiddos, you can walk over to the other side of the ice arena where you will find the High Line Railroad Park. This is a cute train themed playground. There are also some historic trains and train cars with informational signposts parked here for your educational enjoyment. 

Tell Isak we say hi when you see him!