Fun-loving families have a lot of options for Colorado adventures this summer. Here are five of our favorite activities; kick off your summer by trying one. Or better yet, try them all!
1. Llama Treks
Snow Mountain Ranch
1101 County Road 53 outside Granby
If summer’s got you feeling nostalgic for sleepaway camp, book a trip to Snow Mountain Ranch, which offers a camp-like experience for adventurous families. In addition to horseback riding, mountain biking, archery, swimming, crafts, miniature golf and tubing on Colorado’s first summer tubing hill, this YMCA of the Rockies site now offers llama treks, June through August, for lodging guests and day-pass purchasers.
“I did a family backpacking trip with llamas and thought they would be a great addition to our current offerings,” says Chris Michalowski, assistant program director at Snow Mountain Ranch. “Llamas are a great way to get families – especially families with young children – into backcountry camping.” The docile creatures are also photogenic. “They love selfies,” Michalowski says.
Learn to pack your llama at Snow Mountain Ranch’s historic Rowley Homestead before exploring portions of the property’s scenic 5,100 acres, nestled below the Continental Divide. When the trek ends, hunker down in a lodge room, tent camp — or try Snow Mountain Ranch’s yurt village, opening July 1 with twelve new yurts capable of accommodating up to six people each with a queen bed, two bunk beds and a camping tent pad, plus a full bathhouse and fire ring. When you book a yurt or room at Snow Mountain Ranch, you’ll have access to on-site meals and a full lineup of activities during your stay.
2. Vail’s Epic Discovery
675 Lionshead Place in Vail
Zip, fly, tour and tube your way through the warm weather months at Vail’s latest on-mountain experience launching this month, "Epic Discovery will provide an avenue for our summer guests to experience our alpine settings in a new, immersive way — similar to what our ski and snowboard guests experience in the winter,” explains Chris Jarnot, senior vice-president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. “For kids, it will be the ultimate playground in an alpine setting."
An $89, one-day Ultimate Adventure Pass grants patrons unlimited access to an array of activities including two ziplines, three adventure courses, tubing and mini-tubing, a bungee trampoline and the Mountain Goat Climbing Tower. On the Forest Flyer gravity-based alpine coaster, guests descend on individual sleds on a raised track through the forest; another must-try is the Game Creek Canopy Tour, a guided forest tour featuring zip lines and aerial bridges as high as 300 feet above the valley floor.
Learn-through-play activities are interspersed throughout the site, and an expanded trail system paves the way for wildlife exploration. While hiking, you'll stumble upon a series of installations, each resembling a different animal ability that’ll invite guests to, say, test their sense of smell against a bear’s. Vail is partnering with the Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service and Walking Mountains Science Center to bring these interpretive elements to Epic Discovery; 1 percent of all summer lift-ticket and activity revenue will be donated to the Nature Conservancy for forest-restoration projects.
Keep reading for more family adventures.