Family Camping Made Easy

By Mindy Sink

There comes a time in family life when you want to get away for a weekend in the mountains, but you just don’t have the time or energy to pack the tent, the food, and so on. The YMCA of the Rockies knows this and makes it possible to have an affordable and comfortable family vacation in a variety of lodgings at their img_1550property.

My family recently stayed in a yurt at the YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado (a mere 90 minutes from Denver) and found ourselves with a significantly lighter load than when we tent camped in the summer. While some might call this “glamping,” (glamorous camping), it’s still pretty rustic with a short walk to the restroom and BYOSH (Bring Your Own Space Heater) policy for the cooler nights of early fall.

img_1504A yurt is a circular tent, in this case with room to sleep six (one double bed, two bunks), with power, but no bathroom facilities. These spacious yurts have hardwood floors, a table and chairs, a mini fridge, a microwave, and a skylight to watch the clouds and stars. The bathrooms with flushable toilets, showers, and even tubs, are a short walk away and part of the yurt village.

Another plus, you can walk to the dining hall for your meals and not bother with meal prep (or clean up) yourself. It’s like being on vacation, actually.

img_1533Since you’re not unpacking so much stuff, pitching a tent or starting a fire to cook dinner, you can enjoy the activities and the gorgeous setting. Your activity choices will depend on the season, ages and preferences of your group. For two adults and an 11-year old in mid-September, we had a blast on the tubing hill, tried zip-lining for the first time, gave archery a shot, and hiked to a waterfall. Oh, and took part in a little square dancing on a Saturday night. We could have also gone swimming indoors, taken a wagon ride or gone horseback riding, played mini golf, toured a gold mine, or enjoyed a campfire just outside of our yurt. img_1501Check the website for seasonal activities and set your own pace.

Being unplugged can mean just appreciating the setting: we saw deer, a fox and other wildlife wander through the yurt village, gazed at the clouds rolling by through the yurt’s skylight dome, and got up close to the fall colors in various groves of aspen trees. And we also got to try new things like zip-lining, tubing and archery which made for wonderful memories together.

My tips:

*The yurts (made in Colorado) are ideal in summer due to the lack of heat; they are primarily available from late May through early October.

*Bring “house slippers” for inside the yurt as you can easily track dirt in.

*Note the dining hall hours—we almost missed breakfast on our first day!

*Do schedule your activities when you make a reservation.

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