Nature studies galore at Estes Park

After our adventures at DetCon1 last week, we met up with my wonderful in-laws at the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center, where they were cabin-camping with the kiddo (hence letting us have our first kid-free vacation in many years).

I had no idea a place like this existed.  It was simply mind-blowing, how big this family camp is and how many activities they have.  I only wish we hadn’t been so tired and eager to get home, as we could have enjoyed it even more.

Many of the activities were free classes, and plenty of others charged a reasonable fee.  There’s also a day camp for kids age three and up on weekdays.  Free classes included things like tree art (gather your own twigs, leaves, pine needles, etc. and glue them to paper), photography, exercise classes, you name it.  The complex had a pool, tennis courts, craft center, mini golf, pony and horse rides, exercise track, picnic areas, miles and miles of hiking trails, restaurants, lodges, cabins… I could go on and on.

We had two wonderful days of watching a little girl take in nature.  We went hiking around a high mountain lake in Rocky Mountain National Park just a few minutes’ drive away.  We hiked around the huge YMCA campus, and attended a cookout.  Precious treasures were collected, in the form of sparkly pebbles, a ceramic horse she painted herself at the craft center, and countless twigs and dandelions.

Wildlife sightings included deer, hundreds of blue dragonflies, a baby rabbit, chipmunks, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, ants, roly-polies, deer, birds, and fish.   We ended each day exhausted by both the hiking and the high mountain air, and thoroughly enjoyed it all.  I love watching my little budding scientist at work, discovering the world around her.  If time off and budget permit, I would love to go back for a full week next summer and let her experience the day camp.

Where is your favorite place to experience nature?

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Filed under Geek crafts, Nature walks

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