From bumper cars on ice to sleigh ride dinners, here’s Explore’s top holiday activities to enjoy in Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs — There’s no excuse to sit around in Steamboat for the holidays just waiting for Santa.
OK, so maybe that downhill skiing didn’t work out for you after that last crash. Perhaps you’re tired of watching teens text their vacation away.
Or maybe you’re just irritated with Uncle Phil downing pitchers of eggnog and growing more obnoxious by the moment.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty to do in Steamboat that will get you out of the condo and enjoying all the Yampa Valley has to offer this time of year.
Locals always have their favorite suggestions for visitors, and sleigh rides top the list.
Urbane owner Mel LeBlanc is usually working around the clock during the holidays but encourages her visitors not to sit around.
“I love sending people to Saddleback Ranch,” LeBlanc said about the 8,000-acre ranch outside of town. “They’ll even pick you up and drop you off.”
The ranch offers snowmobile rides, horseback rides, tubing and a sleigh-ride dinner.
City Councilman Jason Lacy has a list of favorites as well.
“I always recommend snowshoeing up Fish Creek Falls for some great exercise and scenery … soaking at Strawberry Hot Springs is a special treat any time of the year … and bumper cars at Howelsen Ice Arena is fun for the whole family,” Lacy said.
Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said getting an up-close look at the Nordic ski jumpers is a “must-do” for visitors. Local competitors will be practicing from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 23 and from 2 to 4 p.m. at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat.
In the meantime, Powder Hounds owner Lindsey Barr said she and her husband spend Christmas Day cross country skiing.
“It’s not like you’re racing downhill,” Barr said. “It’s easy, and if you fall, you can kind of land in fluff.”
Barr said visitors can hit a number of Nordic ski areas, and they usually have rentals. She suggests Lake Catamount.
“The views there are outstanding,” Barr said.
For those wanting to get off their feet but still enjoy the adventure of the backcountry, snowmobile rentals are the way to go. And newcomer Colorado Sled Rentals is making it easier than ever.
“We’re making this sport more available to everybody,” said CSR guide Michael Lambert. “Some companies will put a $3,000 or $4,000 hold on your credit card when you take the sled out. Not us.”
CSR is in its first full snow season and is located on the west side of Steamboat.
“We provide all the backcountry gear you’ll need for sledding … shovels, probes, beacon, radio, backpack, helmets … all is included,” said AJ Hau, co-owner of CSR.
CSR will actually meet you at a number of trailheads with the snowmobiles. Riders can take off by themselves or request a guide. Trailer and sleds can also be picked up at their shop or delivered to private property.
But City Council President Walter Magill says Howelsen Hill, Steamboat’s downtown ski area, is still the best deal in town, especially Friday. Dec. 23.
“It’s free on Friday,” Magill reminds everyone.
Santa will also be dropping by the Sheraton Steamboat Resort from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23. He’ll then head to the Bank of the West in downtown Steamboat from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Christmas Eve.
And last but not least, if you don’t have time to cook Christmas dinner or your favorite restaurant is booked, the Community Christmas Dinner is free and open to everyone from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.
The Steamboat Board of Realtors sponsors the popular event where tourists and their families often dine with locals in a casual but festive environment.
Other options for enjoying the holidays in Steamboat:
Sleigh & Snowcat Dinners (with and without horses)
For full details go to steamboat.com and click on “Things to Do.”
Haymaker Golf Course Sleigh Ride — Take a horse-drawn sleigh through the rolling hills before dining at the clubhouse. Dinners throughout holidays and Fridays and Saturdays until March 17, 2017. Free shuttle service from the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Visit haymakergolf.com.
Ragnar’s sleigh ride dinner — Take the Gondola up for a snowcat-driven sleigh ride to enjoy a five-course Scandinavian dinner throughout holidays and Fridays and Saturdays through March 25, 2017. Visit steamboat.com or call 970-871-5150.
Four Points snowcat dinner — A beautiful snowcat ride up the snowy mountainside ending with a fine Italian dinner overlooking many of the areas landmarks. Dinners throughout holidays and on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays through April 8, 2017. Visit steamboat.com or call 970-871-5150.
Saddleback Ranch — Only thing missing on this 8,000-acre ranch is John Wayne, but that’s OK. Saddleback’s cowboys will dash you through the snow in their horse-drawn open sleigh. The trip ends with hot cider and cocoa along with a home-cooked dinner in their spacious barn. Saddleback will even pick you up at your lodging. The ranch usually needs 48 hours notice for the dinner. Daily dinners through Jan. 2, 2017, but closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Visit saddlebackranch.net or call 970-879-3711.
Howelsen Ice Arena offers old-fashioned ice skating as well as bumper cars on ice. Open throughout the holidays in downtown Steamboat. Check the information line or website for times. Visit steamboatsprings.net/ice or call 970-871-7033.
Cross country skiing and snowshoeing
Prime cross country trails can be found at Haymaker Golf Course, the Steamboat Ski Touring Center and Lake Catamount Touring Center. For a full list of cross country ski sites, visit steamboatxcski.com/nordic-areas.
Winter horseback riding
Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch offers an amazing ride through quiet snowy forests in north Routt County as elk often wander nearby. Transportation provided from the Gondola Transit Center. Visit steamboathorses.com/activities/12/ or call 970-879-3495.
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