and in the Boulder Daily Camera on Sept. 24, 2018.
FRASER — I crawled out of my tent just in time to see the sun top out over the Continental Divide, its light washing over the yurt village at YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch. White rays pierced the clear plastic domes atop each of the round, Mongolian-inspired structures, families still sleeping inside.
I’d slept in my tent outside our yurt so that my mother-in-law could use the queen bed inside with my three daughters (plus a friend) in the two bunk beds. My wife works most weekends, so her mom sometimes joins me and the kids on our travels around the state. Grandma has been exploring Colorado her entire life, but lately, she has skipped some of our camping adventures. The yurt site setup seemed like a good way to get us all around the campfire together.
The yurts — there are 24 of them, in two villages of 12 yurts each around a shared bathhouse — have electricity, Wi-Fi, a mini fridge and microwave inside. Each site also has a grill, fire pit and tent pad. The bathhouses have flush toilets, hot showers and hair dryers. These amenities make it easier for some families, but being removed from your car — you have to park it a couple hundred feet away, except in the handicap accessible sites — adds to the camping feel.
It was chilly at this dawn hour in late August, a touch of fall in the air. We’d spotted the year’s first patches of golden aspen leaves on our way over Berthoud Pass. I savored the moment of quiet, a gift from my sleepyhead family, this silent sunrise hour. As quietly as I could, I fired up my stove, made coffee, then sat in my camp chair, admiring the circle where we and our friends had hung out the night before. I’d forgotten to put my ukelele away, its case covered in dew. My clothes smelled richly of smoke; bits of marshmallow clung to smores sticks leaning against the stones around the cold ashes.
We had a busy day ahead, with sessions booked at the summer tubing hill and archery range, plus promises to the girls of roller skating, arts and crafts, and time to play on Snow Mountain Ranch’s newest playground — the Spruce Saddle Adventure Zone, walkable from the yurts. The evening before, my kids couldn’t get enough of the crazy pendulum swing, zip line and bouldering wall there.
But for the moment, all was peaceful. The coffee steamed from my cup and I sipped it as, one by one, my family woke up and joined me outside.
If you go:
The yurts at YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch are available year-round (with several short maintenance closures) but they are not heated and linens are not provided in the winter. They cost $99 per night and sleep up to six.
Most activities at Snow Mountain Ranch are included at no additional cost for overnight guests, including mini-golf, roller skating, indoor swimming pool and hiking. The climbing wall, archery, summer tubing and zip line usually require reservations and cost a little extra. There is also a bike rental shop, horseback riding and, in the winter, dog sledding, Nordic skiing, fat bikes and snowshoeing.
There are Fall Fest weekends coming up on Sept. 28-30 and Oct. 5-7, featuring carnivals, hayrides and Aristotle the Fortune Telling Goat.