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Snowed Out at Snow Mountain Ranch

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[photopress:snowmountainfamilysm.jpg,full,pp_image]Hands down, my favorite Colorado getaway is YMCA of the Rockies. I have been to the Estes Park Center once in the summer and we recently went on our third getaway to Snow Mountain Ranch in the wintertime.

It is tough to qualify why I love YMCA of the Rockies so much. The cabins and lodges are extremely affordable but very basic; the facilities are plentiful but worn. It has more to do with the abundance of activities, the majestic Rocky Mountain backdrop and the sentiment you are in a magical place that truly celebrates family.

Unless you happen to visit during a huge snowstorm on a weekday.

Our latest trip started as fabulously as any other. [photopress:munchkin.jpg,full,pp_image]Last Monday, we checked into our three-bedroom cabin, consumed about 2,000 calories and then decided to go for a walk to burn about 30 of them off. We made snow angels, raced down the slopes and breathed in the crisp air.

Later, we went to the Kiva Center – land of indoor recreation – and were thrilled to have the place to ourselves. We shot some hoops, flexed our ping-pong chops, peppered the volleyball and I gave my 3-year-old daughter Hadley her second roller-skating tutorial.

I then went for a whirl around the abandoned rink. Despite the fact my Canadian parents stuck me in figure-skating lessons, I have always fancied myself a speed skater. I have it all: velocity and a speed skater’s physique.

Well, minus the muscles.

We returned to our cabin, snuggled on Haddie’s bunk bed and planned to spend the next day at the Nordic Center. We would shoot down the steep sledding hill, race around the ice-skating rink and snowshoe on the 100 km of world-class trails through pristine hollows and bowls.

Until the snow came. An overabundance of it. In its defense, the name of the place is Snow Mountain Ranch so there was full disclosure. But try telling that to someone who has a full slate of outdoor activities planned. The resort is certainly not lacking in indoor diversions but our midweek stay proved problematic in that the pool and gym didn’t open until later and the craft center was closed all together.

Instead of relishing the crunch of our snowshoes on bejeweled blankets of snow, we were relegated to playing tedious puzzles in the lobby and watching Amber is Grouchy Elmo in Grouchland in our cabin.

But we will return to play another day. Let’s just hope Snow Mountain Ranch implements rainchecks in the future.

Or at least one involving snow….

Has inclement weather ever wreaked havoc on your vacation?

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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  • comment avatar Heidi March 10, 2008

    Inclement weather causing nasty flight problems yes… Two years ago we were scheduled to fly from Toronto to Venice via London…when a storm in TO delayed our flight from 7 pm until 2 am. We finally made it to London to a missed connection. We were put on another flight via Paris to Venice…waited a full 6 hours for that flight, only to find it also was delayed due to weather. We missed our connection in Paris, and had to spend the night there. When we finally made it to Venice the next morning, we’d been travelling for 2 days on about 4 hours of sleep. Did I mention we were bringing our two boys? Needless to say, the remaining 5 day sof holidays were spent trying to recuperate and prepare for the return trip…


  • comment avatar Kari March 10, 2008

    I can’t count the number of times crummy weather has destroyed our trips to the beach. Seriously. If ever they are in drought, I should just plan a trip and the floodgates will open.

  • comment avatar Lauren March 10, 2008

    oh, well once there was this little hurricaine-thingy that threatened to ruin our beach trip πŸ˜‰

    I love that picture of your baby boy all bundled up from behind, so cute!

  • comment avatar Amy March 10, 2008

    Some of my best memories are of getting snowed in in unplanned snow storms while on family trips . . . we got stuck in a blizzard on I-70 coming back from Utah our first year in Colorado, and ended up staying in the Marriot in Golden rather than risk returning to Colorado Springs . . . but the 4+ hours we spent in grid lock outside the Eisenhower tunnel are some of my more vivid childhood memories . . . we got stuck one year in NM trying to get home, and ended up staying two days in a small town at the top of a mountain pass, everyone one in town was so nice and the restaurant (yup, the ONE, in the whole town) stayed open extra long hours just for those of us that got stuck. Another year we got stuck in an ice storm in TX (again trying to get home to Colorado) and stayed two days in a small pan handle town outside Amarillo. We walked in the snow to Wal-Mart and bought board games, we shared our table with another family at an over-crowded restaurant . . . the weather always seemed to throw a hitch in my family’s travel plans, but many of my fondest childhood memories are a direct result. I hope it’s the same for my kids.

  • comment avatar Carol March 10, 2008

    Ooh! Lauren reminded me of mine. A hurricane DID ruin a beach trip for my family. Living in Texas, this can be a reasonably common occurance but fortunately it has only happened to me twice.

    My mom and dad didn’t make a lot of money so our trips early on involved camping in a tent or a popup camper. Let me say that neither is fun during a hurricane. We were camping in a tent on South Padre Island near Brownsville, TX (for those unfamiliar, you can’t go much further south without entering Mexico). I was probably about 5 and my brother was 3.

    We went to sleep that night camped out on the beach in a tent and things were pretty much fine. In the middle of the night, a hurricane hit Mexico. When a hurricane hits far enough north in Mexico, Texas is going to get the dirty side of the storm meaning very intense wind and torrential rain.

    Needless to say, the tent didn’t withstand the winds too well so my parents left the tent and packed us up to find a motel. This posed another problem because apparently everyone else had the same idea. We finally found one after driving around for hours and it was the dirtiest motel my mom had ever seen. She made everyone sleep in the sleeping bags on top of the beds because they were so disgusting.

    The next day we went back and the tent was completely destroyed along with many others on the beach. The only one that stayed up was a tiny little two man tent! After that, my parents bought a popup camper and we started vacationing in style!

  • comment avatar Lizzy March 10, 2008

    On our honeymoon, in mid August, my husband took me to the Oregon coast only to find that it was FREEZING! We ended up taking a road trip and just driving south until we finally hit some warm beach. Of course on the first warm sunny beach we hit I get a very major sunburn that made the rest of the honeymoon a little difficult to manage =).

  • comment avatar Lisa March 10, 2008

    My husband and I took a trip to Cabo, leaving our 7 month old home with grandparents. It rained and rained and rained. We later learned it was Tropical Storm Hillary that was interfering with our beachy get away.

  • comment avatar Melissa March 10, 2008

    Well we my husband adn were getting ready to get married the weather was horrible…worst that i have ever seen since living here…and that is my whole life. But I didn’t mind, but his sister did. And she hated being heer and thinks it is like that all the time. She swears she will never come and visit…..maybe…a blessing? πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Tari March 10, 2008

    Hey I found your blog from my friend Janice’s. Your family is so cute I can’t wait to read more. I’m in Utah and we go to Denver quite a bit, maybe we’ll have to try out the YMCA of the Rockies sometime. Hope you’ll stop by and meet us.

  • comment avatar Anonymous March 10, 2008

    our mountains sure have been hammered this year. i bet it was beautiful up there but it would be nice to be active in that environment.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson March 11, 2008

    Heidi – I have had some brutal weather-related delays with flights. Getting stuck in an airport is horrible.

    Kari – LOL, I can so relate!

    Lauren – a “Hurricane thingy?” Souds minor. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson March 11, 2008

    Amy – I’m so glad your memories of getting stuck on the freeway are so fond. I am sure your parents’ experiences were much different. I can’t image the nightmare of gettin stuck on the freeway for that lenght of time with my two little ones!

    Carol – that is a CRAZY story! Though I can’t exactly say a pop-up camper is camping “in style.” πŸ™‚

    Lizzy – Sunburn – honeymoon do NOT mix!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson March 11, 2008

    Lisa – a getaway without the kids you are privvy to a tropical storm? Lucky you.

    Melissa – so funny about the sister!

    Tari – I really would recommend YMCA of the Rockies. Just during peak season on the weekend. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Gina (mannyed) March 11, 2008

    bad weather usually holds out until the flight home for me.

    ps, i took figure skating lessons, too :o)

  • comment avatar Damselfly March 11, 2008

    Have you read that series of books called “I Should Have Stayed Home”?


  • comment avatar Crunchy Domestic Goddess March 13, 2008

    your family is so cute! love the pics.

    crunchy domestic goddess