The majestic Rocky Mountains span 3,000 miles from Canada to New Mexico and include dozens of ranges, including the Tetons in Wyoming, The Sawtooths in Idaho and the Wasatch Range in Utah. You might have found yourself in the Rockies without knowing it.
Here are some vacation ideas for families in the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming.
The most visited of the Mighty 5 national parks in southern Utah, Zion is a place for adventurers, as only a fraction of the park can be seen from the road. There are hundreds of miles of trails leading into the narrow slot canyons and alongside the towering cliffs of Navajo sandstone and rock formations that span more than 150 million years of history.
Looking for luxury in Colorado? Consider the iconic Broadmoor, where five-star digs and kid-friendly amenities offer families plenty to love. This four-season resort offers plenty of programming for families year ‘round. For kids ages 3 to 12, the Bee Bunch Camp offers half-day, full day and evening camps with meals included. Activities include fly fishing, zip lining, golf, tennis, canoeing, archery, geocaching, horseback riding, bowling, and more. There is even an on-site movie theater.
Yellowstone National Park, located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, exceeds expectations. Unique in the world, the park sits on top of the "Yellowstone supervolcano," which causes its amazing geothermal features (hot springs, geysers, mud pots, and more). Yellowstone also offers amazing wildlife viewing, including bison, elk, wolves, moose, and grizzly bear.
YMCA of the Rockies, CO
Looking for an affordable, active family getaway? YMCA of the Rockies offers two centers, in Snow Mountain Ranch and Estes Park. Families stay in lodges or cabins and can enjoy a bonanza of recreational activities, from indoor sports to family zip line, archery, horseback riding, challenge courses, and more.
Utah's Dinosaur Graveyards
Thanks in part to the success of films such as "Jurassic World," interest in learning about dinosaurs is on the rise. And there's no place in North America with a richer dinosaur legacy than Utah. In 2013, paleontologists discovered some new dinosaur species, including Siats meekerorum, a killer dinosaur that roamed in what is now Utah about 100 million years ago, before T-Rex.
The Gem State is a tremendous and varied landscape, from its sage-covered high desert, volcanic ridges, whitewater rivers, and spectacular canyons to mountain peaks, glacial lakes, and vast pine forests. If your family loves spending quality time outdoors, put these natural wonders on the top of your itinerary.
Located about an hour east of Yellowstone, the charming town of Cody offers many fun free and low-budget things to do. Named after Buffalo Bill Cody, the town delivers Old West attractions and a huge Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Colorado Dude Ranches
Dude ranches make for great family getaways, complete with horseback riding, kids programs, and all-inclusive pricing that includes meals. Kids tend to embrace the cowboy way of life, and Colorado dude ranches also offer a great mountain setting. Horseback riding season starts in May or June, but some ranches offer opportunities throughout the year.
Colorado is home to some of America's most illustrious ski resorts, from Aspen and Steamboat Springs to Vail and Breckenridge. Most ski resorts these days offer children's programs and family activities as well as teen centers and baby care.
Utah ski areas offer some choice destinations for snow vacations, including 15 different mountains near Salt Lake City.
- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher