Famous for its fine snow, Steamboat provides an entire winter wonderland of activities
Steamboat Springs, Colorado, goes by the moniker “Ski Town USA” and for good reason. The Champagne Powder® snow is so fine in all respects that town fathers have trademarked it. While you’ll drive a little farther to get there, you’ll appreciate the blend of classic Colorado cowboy culture and ski sophistication that makes a trip to Steamboat Springs so special. Steamboat Springs was a town before it was a ski resort, nothing glitzy or contrived. It’s a place where Western heritage and genuine friendliness are honored. Not a skier? Don’t worry. There are plenty of wintertime activities and not-so-active things to do that make this jewel of the Yampa Valley a memorable winter destination.
Steamboat Ski Resort is blessed with six peaks, nearly 3,000 acres of terrain, abundant Champagne Powder snow, an 84-year Olympic heritage and family programs rated among the best in the industry. The term Champagne Powder was coined in Steamboat before the ski area even existed—and with an annual average of 338 inches of snow, adventurous skiers are bound to find an untouched stash somewhere. The terrain is diverse so whether you’re an experienced skier or rider or strapping on your boards for the first time, with almost 3,000 total acres, 165 trails, 18 lifts and three terrain parks, there’s something here for all ages and ability levels.
Located directly in downtown Steamboat Springs, Howelsen Hill is the oldest continuously operating ski area in Colorado, running since 1915, and has the largest and most complete natural ski-jumping complex in North America. Howelsen Hill is also the home of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, the oldest ski club west of the Mississippi, and the club provides training in alpine, Nordic and freestyle skiing and snowboarding for beginners to Olympians. Howelsen’s relatively compact size on just 50 acres lends itself to family outings with 17 alpine runs and 21 miles of Nordic trails.
To the Springs
The region is dotted with many small hot springs, but two major facilities will accommodate anyone’s desire for relaxing soaks to ease the aches and soreness of a long day on the slopes. Or simply enjoy whiling the day away wet and warm.
Strawberry Hot Springs is located seven miles north of downtown Steamboat Springs nestled in a high mountain valley along Hot Springs Creek. Open year-round, the facility offers unique stone-lined soaking pools, rustic cabins and tent sites, massage and Watsu therapy. A soak in the 104-degree water is perfect after a day of skiing or snowshoeing. If the snow is falling, visitors are in for an even more enchanting experience. Just remember after dark it’s for adults only because swimsuits become optional. Cash only.
For a more family-friendly experience, Old Town Hot Springs is a full-service recreation facility located in the heart of town. Old Town has been a site for recreation and rejuvenation in the community for more than 100 years because of the gift of the Heart Spring, the source of all the healing mineral water in the eight pools. It operates as a not-for-profit organization. In addition to the hot soaking pools, amenities include waterslides, aquatic climbing walls, massage therapy, childcare, eight lap lanes, tennis courts, and a fitness center with classes, cardio equipment and a weight room. Old Town Hot Springs is open to the public daily, year-round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
A Day at the Spa
Who needs snow? You can luxuriate at Life Essentials Day Spa, a 10-year-old facility where they provide a full menu of spa services to help find your body’s internal balance. Services include deep-tissue massages, sugar and herbal scrubs, facials, manicures and pedicures. Packages are available for singles and couples.
Main Street is the heart of Steamboat’s commercial scene, and devoted shoppers can find plenty of clothing and accessories on the intersecting streets. Chez Nous, 635 Lincoln Ave., carries clothing perfect for après ski activities. Straightline Outdoors, 744 Lincoln, provides accouterments for outdoor activities. Urbane, 703 Lincoln, will outfit you with shoes and accessories for the street.
Steamboat Springs puts its welcome mat out figuratively at the Winter Expo on Dec. 7 at the Sheraton, 2200 Village Inn Circle. It’s a good opportunity to learn what to do, where to eat and where to go this winter in Steamboat Springs. More than 50 exhibitors will participate, and visitors can sample free food from some of the area’s best restaurants.
Steamboat residents revel in their winter wonderland and will celebrate 103 years of winter tradition Feb. 8-12, at the annual Winter Carnival held at various locations around the town of Steamboat Springs. A parade and fireworks, sure, but fairly typical. Think about folks being pulled around on horse-drawn shovels and skiers jumping through fiery hoops. And to cap things off, watch the famous Lighted Man in his pyrotechnic suit shooting fireworks from his body as he skis the Howelsen Hill jump.
New Year’s Torchlight Parade
Ring in 2017 at Steamboat’s annual torchlight parade after sunset on Dec. 31 at the base of the Steamboat Ski area in Gondola Square. This New Year’s Eve, the Steamboat Ski and Snowboard School will treat visitors and locals to a spectacular on-snow parade down the mountain lit only by hand-held torches, concluding with a festive fireworks display. The start time is determined by sunset, so visit steamboat.com to verify the time.
Where to Stay
Sheraton Steamboat Resort
Ski-in, ski-out, perfect for ski enthusiasts. Roomy comfortable accommodations with some apartments available. from $175/night double.
The Steamboat Grand
Friendly and family-oriented and a short walk to the ski lifts. Great views from the rooms. Circle Rooms from $110/night double.
Steamboat Hotel Bristol
An intimate yet full-service hotel in the downtown area that evokes an earlier time. Great location within walking distance to restaurants and ski shuttles.
Trappeur’s Crossing Resort & Spa
Your luxury lodge near the ski area complete with fireplaces and day spa services. From $300/night.
Treat yourself to a special bed-and-breakfast experience on the mountain directly under the gondolas in a beautiful Victorian-style house. Rooms from $240/night.
Where to Dine
Aurum Food & Wine
An international menu punctuated with regional game specialties highlights this riverside bistro. Refined yet relaxing environment and an expansive outdoor deck.
811 Yampa St., 970-879-9500
This is where locals come to celebrate special occasions and is very popular. Known for exceptional service and great contemporary American cuisine.
1855 Ski Time Square, 970-871-0508
Dinner Sleigh Rides at Haymaker
You will literally dash through the snow behind draft horses pulling a 20-person sleigh that culminates with a hearty supper back at cozy Haymaker Lodge in the ski area. For reservations call 800-922-2722.
A romantic setting in town along the Yampa River complete with fireplaces accompanies the fine steaks that come off the grill. 701 Yampa Ave., 970-879-7167
Traditional French cuisine comes to cowboy country using fresh locally produced foods. The only real wine cellar in town is interpreted by experienced sommeliers.
911 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-1919