Steamboat business leaders remain hopeful for summer |

Steamboat business leaders remain hopeful for summer

— Despite the dry weather that has put a temporary end to some popular summer activities, Steamboat Springs business leaders remain optimistic as the busy tourism season ramps up.

“Summer is off to a booming start,” Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said Friday, adding that she expects the momentum to build through the summer.

Like many other resort destinations in Colorado, Routt County is soon expected to enact restrictions that would prohibit campfires throughout the area. On Thursday, a voluntary closure was announced for the Yampa River within Steamboat city limits, effectively bringing an early end to fishing, tubing, kayaking and swimming on the popular waterway. The city’s July 4 fireworks show already has been canceled, and private fireworks have been outlawed because of the extreme fire conditions.

“I think people will still find water,” Barnett said. “They just won’t find it in the river.”

Instead of tubing the river, she said, people will find alternative options to cool off such as heading up north to Steamboat Lake or spending the day at Old Town Hot Springs.

Statewide, drought and wildfires have not impacted tourism, said Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, who spent Friday morning meeting with tour companies.

“Everyone at the meeting was saying that their reservations are at record levels,” White said. “There is still plenty to see and do in Colorado.”

Letting visitors know what events and activities are available in Steamboat this summer is the focus of Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association marketing, which is focusing its efforts on social media and website advertising.

“We’re just making little shifts to reflect the changes in the environment this year,” Chamber CEO Tom Kern said.

For example, advertising no longer is focusing on river activities. The rodeo, cycling and horseback riding are now the focus.

Local lodging property managers maintain that their guests will not have problems staying busy while on vacation.

Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs General Manager Barbara Robinson said summer bookings at her property are up, and a lot of cycling guests are taking advantage of the bike storage room at the hotel.

“It’s always in use,” Robinson said.

Resort Group Vice President Mark Walker said his company’s numbers are up significantly when compared to the past four summers.

“It’s still looking pretty good for us,” Walker said. “I think people are looking to the mountains to escape the heat.”

Rex Brice, owner of Steamboat Restaurant Group and board president of the Chamber, said he recognizes there could be challenges ahead.

“There are hurdles that we have to deal with in a community like this when we are kind of dependent on the weather for our livelihoods,” Brice said.

He remains optimistic and offered some familiar advice for the community.

“I would rely on taking care of the guests that do come here and making sure they leave happy,” Brice said. “I think that’s the best thing we can do to promote our community.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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