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Need some advice

georgia02
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Need some advice

My husband, myself and our 3 kids, 2 daughters ages 12 and 10 and a son age 4, are heading to Colorado from October 4-13. The first days of our vacation will be tied to the Highlands Ranch area of Colorado due to a softball hitting clinic. We will be free from that Wednesday around noon and were planning on spending the rest of our vacation in and around Estes Park/RMNP area. None of us have ever been to the area and it is WAY to much for me to absorb---I have put it off as much as I can and my goal is to find us somewhere to stay on those last few days in the Estes Park area. My eye keeps getting drawn to the YMCA centers. I like the activities that they have available for the kids and they are running a special buy 2 nights get a night free and that fits perfect for our three night stay. Any thoughts that could be shared would be appreciated about it. I look at all of the activities and there is so much to offer that my kids would love. Are the activities well ran? How is the food offerings? I see they have a buffet, is it any good? Thank you ahead of time for all of your advice and comments.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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1. Re: Need some advice

If rky (one of the other DE's for Estes/RMNP) sees your question, the response will be go any other place but the YMCA. Rky had a very bad experience with day camp at the Y involving their daughter and no longer recommends the Y.

Reviews for Estes Park Center of the YMCA of the Rockies

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60945-d124817-…

Realize, you will be coming at a slower time for Estes Park/RMNP and the YMCA. You might want to verify with the Y what activities will be available during your visit. I have not eaten at the main dining lodge in some time, but friends have and said it was pretty basic and average to good. They said breakfast was best. As noted in my previous post below, family had a very good experience at the Rustic Cafe.

Other lodging places will have "deals" for the timing of your visit. As I said, it is a slower time for Estes once you get past the first week of October. www.estesparkcvb.com

The elk rut will still be going on and the elk literally will be everywhere.

My reply from your post back in March--

"Family and friends from Texas just left after a week in Estes and RMNP for Spring Break. The kids were 5, 7, two 11 year olds and a 14 year old. They had a blast and are coming back in August. "Bouldering" was their favorite activity. They could have spent every day either at the Alluvial Fan or along the Gem Lake trail climbing. (Hold your breath, Mom!) The views from this trail are beautiful. Jackson stables at the YMCA got rave reviews for their horseback ride. There were two experienced riders in the group and they were very impressed with how well riders were matched to horses and the quality of the ride. The scenery was fantastic.

There are many family friendly trails in RMNP--Bear Lake, Dream Lake, Lily Lake, The Pool, Sprague Lake, Cub Lake You can spend an entire day (weather permitting) driving and exploring Trail Ridge Road over to Grand Lake (moose) and back. Adams Falls is a kid favorite on the western side of RMNP and moose hang out around the Colorado River Trailhead and around the Holzwarth Historic Site.

Consider getting a cabin at the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center. www.ymcarockies.org Click on the activity link and be amazed at the long list. Many activities are included in the lodging cost and others have nominal fees. The group ate at the Rustic Cafe at the Y while waiting for the trail ride and said it was a steal with great food and very generous portions. They emphasized to me to be sure and tell folks this is not what you think of as a "Y" but a nice resort with wonderful views. They were all very impressed. The cabins are nicely spaced for privacy. Check out the reviews here on TA.

Food enjoyed on this visit was Village Pizza, Tulum's, Other Side (breakfast and feeding the ducks and geese), The Egg and I (is a franchise but it started in Fort Collins, CO). I would add Smokin' Dave's BBQ and Nepal's to the list. Reviews here on TA are generally accurate.

Do take the scenic route to Estes Park from Denver up the Peak to Peak."

On that earlier post, I mentioned stopping in Nederland for the Carousel of Happiness. The carousel is not open in the fall on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

rky
Estes Park, Colorado
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for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park
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2. Re: Need some advice

It's true . . . the YMCA of the Rockies is not somewhere I would recommend.

I will be the first to agree that the resources are wonderful. They have so much to offer. Unfortunately, their staff is woefully incompetent to the point I was concerned about my child's safety. To the point we removed her from their preschool and would not enroll her in the summer camp programs. It's not that I'm just one nut with a problem with the YMCA of the Rockies. In the time since my troubling experience, I have been shocked how many other locals took time to share their bad experiences with me . . . and also how many other caregivers and teachers have told us they, too, know about the issues festering out there. It's only a matter of time before it all starts to bite them in the rear and the stories and reviews get shared online.

If you do end up at the Y, I would NOT leave your child with the staff there. While I am sure there are some good people involved in their programs, many are not good people and the management is even worse.

Now, with that out of the way . . . I'm afraid I don't have better news on the subject of their food. Sure, I don't think it is a threat to your health like the staff is, but it is close. We ate there a few times before various programs and meetings. The buffet is priced too high for what it is . . . horribly bland ill-prepared junk. I would say it is the worst place to eat in Estes Park with the possible exception of Longz - or whatever the restaurant is now called at Rocky Mountain Park Inn. The Y is not far from other restaurants though so you can get around eating there if you do choose to stay there. On that same road, you will find The Dunraven and the Rock Inn which are much better dining choices.

For three nights, I would recommend looking around for other lodging choices. There are probably other places in Estes Park offering the same special stay 2 nights, get the 3rd free. That is a popular special here in Estes Park in the off season. Also, as recommended above, there is just so much to do in this area, I can't imagine you would have a problem filling 3 days with kid & family friendly activities!

georgia02
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55 posts
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3. Re: Need some advice

OK, enough said, the Y is out. I have been reading ALL day and came across this itinerary from fv 1989. I really like the sound of it but if possible need it reversed, I think.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60945-i436-k56674…

This was a 3 day itinerary around the RMNP starting at denver and ending at denver. We will be through with our ball stuff around noon on Wednesday so we will have the rest of the day Wednesday, all day Thursday and Friday and need to be back at the airport around 11 on Saturday. Would that plan work for us? I was thinking reversing it may be better since we will be on the South side of Denver anyway, maybe starting at Mt. Evans. I know the summit will be closed during our stay so we will only be able to go to the lake? Is that something we could go do when we are finished on Wednesday or is that something better done first thing in the morning? If so, maybe going in reverse isn't ideal? Thank you two so much!!

rky
Estes Park, Colorado
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for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park
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4. Re: Need some advice

This is just my opinion, of course, but since the best part of the Mount Evans Byway will be closed by October 1st (http://www.mountevans.com/), I would either devote more time to exploring in and around RMNP or make a stop somewhere like Breckenridge the first night, then come over to RMNP and finally return to Denver.

Now, as you may notice, I live in Estes Park so I am biased towards our little neck of the woods here. So I personally would spend the time around RMNP. Less driving overall and there's so much to do, 3 days will fly by before you know it!

Perhaps fv1989 will be able to add more to whether the stop at Mount Evans is worth the effort that time of year. I have only been in summer when the road is open to the summit.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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5. Re: Need some advice

RMNP with kids is actually a great place to go without the stress of planning ANYTHING! If you've ruled out the Y, consider a cabin rental. My kids and I rented a little cabin from vrbo.com, and had a wonderful experience. We spent one day driving Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to Grand Lake, and that was a definite "don't miss". There are lots of pull-offs along the road, so you can make a day of it. The scenery, vistas, and animals are in the category of "awesome", and your kids will love it. We spend the next couple of days exploring the paths along some of the lakes in the park, and plan to go back again with more time to do some of the easier hikes (park guide books are available at all of the ranger stations!). You can also spend a good couple of hours in downtown Estes, which the kids should enjoy as well. Don't stress about this trip! Do it! Relax while you're there, enjoy the Park and all it has to offer! You'll be so glad you did.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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6. Re: Need some advice

There is much going on in the thread for which you provided the link in reply #3, Georgia02. I do not know which items appeal to you so let me clarify some things.

When you get into October, the weather at higher elevations gets very unpredictable and sometimes "iffy." Last year, Trail Ridge Road was closed as a through road between Estes Park and Grand Lake for over a week between October 7 and October 15 due to snow. You could only go as far as Many Parks Curve and sometimes Rainbow Curve from the east side and Colorado River Trailhead on the west side. The average official closing date for TRR is October 23. The park works to have TRR entirely open at least part of each day before the official closing. This is not always possible. TRR Status Line 970-586-1222

Highway 5--Mount Evans Road to Summit Lake "will remain open until Monday, October 8" weather permitting according to the forest service website. The rest of the Mount Evans Scenic Byway--103/Squaw Pass Road from Bergen Park to Echo Lake and 103 from Echo Lake to Idaho Springs is open year round. This is a pretty drive and you can still enjoy the Eagle's Aerie and Juniper Pass Overlooks and the Chicago Forks picnic area and Echo Lake. If you have a free afternoon during the softball clinic, it would be well worth it to make the drive to Summit Lake before they close that part of the road. Here is the mapquest link for that option and the time estimate is correct. http://mapq.st/OPHeU8

The Estes Park tram mentioned in the thread closed for the season after Labor Day.

Winter Park summer activities also mentioned in that thread end by September 23.

The Georgetown Railroad mentioned in the thread will still be running. This gets pricey for a family of 5. Unless your kids are thrilled about this train ride, I am not sure it is worth it. To me, it would not be. You can check reviews here on TA.

The YMCA does have a Snow Mountain Ranch location in Granby, Colorado which is close to the western side of RMNP and to Grand Lake. They have similar activities to the Estes location. With it being low season for them (this "Y" is not nearly as busy even in summer as the Estes Park Center), I would think that you would benefit from more personal attention. I do not know about the food at this location. Again, you may benefit from there being fewer people. If you get a cabin with a kitchen, there is a nice City Market (division of Kroger/King Soopers) in Granby. There are very few restaurants in Granby but more options are available in Grand Lake and Winter Park. www.grandlakechamber.com

The drive from Highlands Ranch over Berthoud Pass through Winter Park and to Granby is very pretty.

Keep in mind my comments about Trail Ridge Road. It is possible you would not be able to get to Estes Park from Granby (or vice versa) by way of TRR. You would have to backtrack and take the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway or another route.

Of course as rky mentioned, you can always just plan on staying in Estes Park. There are lots of cabins, condos and vacation rentals with kitchens and there is a Safeway Grocery Store in Estes Park.

I should mention the weather could be sunny and pleasant with not a snowflake in sight on Trail Ridge Road.

Edited: 04 September 2012, 18:06
georgia02
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7. Re: Need some advice

Ok, I have another stupid question, that you may or may not be able to answer definitely. Will we be able to access places where there is snow? We don't get a lot of snow in TN and my 4 year old is wanting to play in some snow. I know you can't tell what the weather is going to be but are there places we can get to where there is snow?

fv1989---what I liked about that previous post was the "loop" it looked like they were taking so they could see more of the area, winter park, etc. but it sounds like I really can't plan on doing that loop because of possible road closures? Reading the Mt. Evans webpage (if I am reading it correctly) it looks like the top 5 miles closed this past weekend and the first 10 miles will close the first weekend of October unless it snows before then. So unless we can get there that first weekend (5-7th) then there is no point in planning Mt. Evans, correct?

Nederland, Colorado
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8. Re: Need some advice

Jumping in here regarding the snow question. It's been a long, hot and dry summer here and many places in the mountains that usually still have some snow in the summer do not. There is certainly a good chance that by October it will have snowed and there may be some snow at the top of Trail Ridge Road. But as fv mentioned, there is also the possibility that TRR could be closed at that time due to snow and poor conditions.

Windsor, Colorado
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9. Re: Need some advice

October 8, 2009 at our condo in Estes Park, snow accumulation was 6 inches. October 10, we got another 8 inches. Yes, it can happen. Can you plan on it this far ahead? No. Check the weather forecast closer to your visit or ask us here on the forum about conditions.

IF (Big If), RMNP happens to get early snow, the most likely and accessible places to find it will be at Bear Lake or at the Longs Peak Trailhead or the upper elevations along Trail Ridge Road assuming it is open.

Close to the Denver area, there would be other options like ski resorts. The Echo Lake area of the Mount Evans Scenic Byway or parts of the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway from Georgetown could have lingering snow if snow falls early.

To the Mount Evans question--Paragraph 3 in reply #6 tells you what you want to know. When you click on the mapquest link, the route is to Summit Lake. Yes, you would need to work Summit Lake into your schedule before October 8. Round trip from Highlands Ranch, allow about 5 hours driving time including a few brief stops to do that route. As I said in Paragraph 3, the parts of the byway open year round are scenic. It would take about 3 1/4 hours round trip from Highlands Ranch with short stops to do the part of the byway open past October 7.

I can not guarantee you that a loop trip will be an option because of Trail Ridge Road. In 2009 and again last year, it would not have been possible during the time of your trip. BUT, even if TRR happens to be closed, you can get from Grand Lake to Estes Park or vice versa in about 3 1/4 hours using an alternate route.

Windsor, Colorado
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10. Re: Need some advice

Georgia02, I remembered you were very interested in the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Babalax posted this update today. The road will only be open to Echo Lake for your visit.

Colorado Department of Transportation

"Today we closed the lower portion of the Mount Evans Highway (State Highway 5) between Echo Lake and Summit Lake for the season due to adverse weather. The five-mile segment from Summit Lake to the top of Mount Evans (14,264 feet) was closed the day after Labor Day. The highway won't be reopened until late next May, weather permitting."

Also of note, Trail Ridge Road has not opened yet today due to snow. It is a temporary closure. This is why I inform people about the unpredictability of weather at upper elevations as you get into October.

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