We always rent a cabin, and that remains fairly predictable in terms of the experience. This visit we avoided the Pine Room or other on-site food sources because we're talking Golden Corral quality, at least based on our experiences in recent years.
An ongoing joke in our family is whether we'll hear "Spartans" marching, chanting, yelling, etc. in the morning and this year was no exception. For the life of me, I don't understand why group yelling is a "thing" here - especially in the early morning when one would hope for tranquility. It's not limited to just the youth and teen camper groups, which is why I refer to "Spartans" given the zeal with which groups congregate and chant around the campus.
All vestiges of the quaint YMCA of the past are gone (except for the museum). One cannot imagine "lodges" larger than what they've added in the last few years. New management appears to be growth oriented, and at that they've succeeded hundrefold. The views from the higher altitude cabins are still a sight to behold, but tilt down to the YMCA base level and it now looks like an industrial area covered with massive buildings (albeit in dark wood tones) instead of the quaint village-like look of decades past. Not that this is impeding attendance: the grounds at the base level are covered with people running, walking, playing, marching, etc. It's much busier than ever before.
One surprise that is fairly indicative of the changes: there used to be a place at the top of the main mountain upon which many of the cabins are located. We called it Deer Mountain. Can't recall why other than we used to see deer near the top. Mountainside Lodge is off to the left on a separate elevation. Anyone who has visited the Y will recognize what I'm referring to. So, as usual, we drive to the top and then around to the backside so everyone in the group - young, old, infirm, etc. -- can see the beautiful views at sunset. From up here you can see into RMNP and after a short hike climb to "bible point", which has always been a treat. There's a mailbox up there into which people place messages to God. Beautiful place. As we rounded the bend to head towards a clearing where one can park we couldn't help but be distracted by a huge, (bright) wood platform covered with benches -- a church without walls -- with a stage area and giant cross jutting out over what had been a pretty meadow with peaks in the distance. The peaks are still visible, but... it's not the same.
One last point: the pine beetles are decimating the trees. Around Mountainside Lodge and the "burned out cabin" there's a lot of bare ground where once stood a dense pine forest. With so many obviously infected or dead trees still standing, a barren mountaintop clearly is the future. See this place soon if you want one last reminder of what it used to look like. Though losses are already overwhelming, if you squint and ignore the many grayish pines still standing, you'll have one last glimpse of what it used to look like.
Once again, not the same... alas. (There is, however, another church-like outdoor worship area across the road, just to the left of Mountainside Lodge, so you can look beyond the present if you prefer.)
A cabin stay can be peaceful if you pick one higher up and far from the Spartans running about (exce...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.