Steamboat on the cheap |

Steamboat on the cheap

Live like you're on vacation, for little to no cash

Margaret Hair

Drew Scharff adjusts his balance while slacklining Friday at Rich Weiss Park with his brother, Matt Scharff. The two were trying slacklining for the first time after purchasing 40 feet of webbing for about $20.

— According to a recent assessment from the U.N. Food and Culture Organization, food prices are expected to stay high for the next decade.

According to the Associated Press, national average gas prices at the start of the weekend were dangerously close to $4 a gallon and were expected to hop over that marker days later – they already have in Steamboat Springs.

And according to the classified listings in Friday’s edition of the Steamboat Today, there are few, if any, rooms in town renting for less than $500 a month.

Things, as you probably have noticed, are expensive. But as the financial picture gets uglier, most everything else in the Yampa Valley gets prettier with the onset of summer. We offer a few suggestions to making the most of your time off in Steamboat Springs by stretching your dollar as far as it will go:

Get some culture:

Summer is a strong season for arts and entertainment in Steamboat Springs. Between the gobs of nationally and internally celebrated acts presented by Strings Music Festival and a slew of events that feature live music, it’s hard to go a weekend without running across something to see.

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Keeping that in mind, there are ways to experience quality music, indoors and outdoors, in the Yampa Valley without shelling out any cash:

– The Free Summer Concert Series plans to present five big-time acts Friday evenings from June to August, including Leftover Salmon founder Drew Emmitt on June 27 and rebel rockers Michael Franti and Spearhead on July 18. The remaining three acts and exact dates for the series are up in the air.

– For classical music enthusiasts, the Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory presents free student and faculty recitals on weekend evenings from late June to early August. The faculty for jazz music, piano and strings includes members of the Kansas City and St. Louis Symphonies, and the students are serious young musicians from across the country. Visit for more information.

– On the cutting edge of performing arts, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp gets its season going with a New Works Festival of drama, dance and music. From June 11 to 20, the school hosts free open rehearsals for “Mama Hated Diesels: The Songs and Stories of the American Truck Driver,” “Wild Blessings – A Celebration of Wendell Berry,” choreography by Peter Chu, “When Tang Met Laika” and “What’s That Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling.” Call 879-7125 or go to for more information and rehearsal times.

– Starting on June 19, Strings Music Festival offers a free Thursday lunchtime concert series at Yampa River Botanic Park, featuring guest musicians or the Strings Young Artists in Residence. The Yampa Valley Boys get the series going. Concerts start at 12:15 p.m. and run for about an hour.

– On the bar scene, a number of venues offer live music for nothing on the weekends. The Tap House occasionally books acts free to the listener, Old Town Pub rarely charges a cover and Mahogany Ridge frequently hosts free classic rock shows by Worried Men.

– On the visual arts side, a booming downtown gallery scene offers free-of-charge daytime viewing on most afternoons. And on the first Friday of each month, galleries and other art spaces open their doors from 5 to 8 p.m. with free showings and receptions that often include finger foods and drinks. Linda Laughlin, director of visual arts for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, said she hopes to add street performers, as well as live music and performance elements to the event during the summer.

– The Arts Council also hosts Art in the Park, a juried art festival, on July 12 and 13. Admission to the festival is $1 for adults and free to children ages 12 and younger.

Throw something:

If the city’s recreational team sports are outside of your price range or work schedule limitations, there’s always the ultimate low-cost summer sport: Frisbee.

– For the team-oriented, check out pick-up Ultimate Frisbee games Mondays and Wednesdays at Ski Town Fields, next to The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs on Pine Grove Road. Games start at 6 p.m. and are free to play.

– If games of skill or chance are more up your alley, there are two disc golf courses in the Steamboat area. The nine-hole course at Colorado Mountain College is open year-round and starts near the far left corner of the parking lot of the campus’s Hill Hall. An opening date for the 18-hole course that starts at the base of Thunderhead Lift and is maintained by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. has not been determined. Go to or for updated course information.

Test your might

– To keep your balance in check in the off-season from skiing and snowboarding, try out slacklining. Chip in on a piece of nylon rope or webbing with some friends, tie each end to something sturdy (a tree, a light post), leave a little bit of slack and get to balancing.

Take a walk:

– The city maintains walking, biking and running trails at Emerald Mountain, Spring Creek and along the Yampa River. For picnicking along any of the trails or the parks that branch off of them, try this recipe for a trail-ready (sort of, maybe more like two-hour-walk-ready) sandwich:

Drain canned or bagged tuna that has been packed in water – really squeeze it, it needs to be dry. In a medium-sized bowl, mix drained tuna with curry powder, garlic chili paste and olive oil to taste. Go easy on the curry and the oil.

Slather crunchy peanut butter on a slice of wheat bread and heap spicy tuna on top of it. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with sliced cucumbers and another slice of wheat bread.

It’s an acquired taste, but that thing will hold you over for a good long while.

– Starting June 14, the Farmers Market is back with a new location on Sixth Street, between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street. Featuring locally grown produce and locally made products, the market is free to browse and runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Soak it in:

– To benefit from the sources that feed Old Town Hot Springs, take a dip in the small natural spring that sits just across Lincoln Avenue on the Yampa River. It’s not as pretty and lined, but it is naturally warm water with a lush river setting around it.

– Later in the summer, jump into the river around the same spot for some independent tubing. Again, wait until later in the summer to do this. As of Friday morning, the Yampa was flowing at 2,850 cubic feet per second, according to the U.S. Geological Survey – commercial tubing gets going when levels drop to 500 cubic feet per second.

Drink it up:

– If you’re working 70-plus hours a week, it’s possible that the occasional reasonably priced drink is in order. The best bet for that is happy hour at Mahogany Ridge, featuring a $1 tapas menu and beers brewed on site for $1.75. Also check out $1 PBRs on Wednesdays at Mazzola’s or $1.50 domestics Thursday through Sunday afternoons at Sunpie’s Bistro.

– To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204

or e-mail