Snowed-in at Snow Mountain Ranch
My first visit to YMCA of the Rockies - Snow Mountain Ranch was three years ago on a quick weekend trip to Colorado to take advantage of early season snow. As I drove over the Berthoud Pass for the first time and descended into the valley toward Winter Park, I was immediately taken in by the snow -- pine trees laden with sparkling snow, mountains capped with snow surrounding the valley on all sides, and the hills blanketed in billowing drifts of SNOW. I found the skiing to be amazing as well, and I’ve wanted to return ever since. Thus, when considering our options for our annual post-Christmas week-long get-away, SMR was high on our list.
Our arrival at SMR on Dec 30th, 2021, was again memorable. A winter storm had arrived in Colorado, bringing 100 mph wind gusts down east side of the mountains, fueling catastrophic grass fires in Boulder County, blowing semi trailers off the highway, and dousing the Rockies in heavy snows. It was a little hairy as we rapidly recalculated our route to avoid these hazards, but we arrived safely at Granby just as the snow started to pile up.
I ventured out for my first ski the next morning with the snow still falling at a fast pace. The temperature was warm, the wind was light, and although the fresh snow made for slow progress, I thoroughly enjoyed skiing through the hills and valleys in the pre-dawn light. Although I didn’t see any other skiers that first morning, I certainly wasn’t the only one on the trails. Several moose were moving around the creek bottoms, eating the willows, and (thankfully) not being too bothered by the fact that I was there.
The SMR groomer was constantly laying down track and perfect corduroy on the extensive trail network. As the snow tapered off later in the day, Erin went out to take in the sights as well on the freshly groomed inner trails.
In addition to moose, Erin was lucky enough to spot this fox at sunset on one of her outings.
On the second morning, I decided to follow the Blue Ridge Trail up into the mountains. I followed the groomed trail that gained about 1000 feet of elevation over 7km to reach the high point of the route. The quick and fun decent back to SMR made the hard climb worthwhile.
In addition to skiing, there were many other activities at SMR to keep all three of us busy during our four day stay. Highlights for our 4 year old included the indoor climbing wall, roller skating, numerous crafts, tubing, indoor archery, and dogsledding. We also enjoyed a few outings to nearby Rocky Mountain National Park for snowshoeing and more wildlife sighting. All in all, Snow Mountain Ranch was great winter destination for our family, and our son is already excitedly planning a return trip next year!