The Routt to Adventure: ATVing in North Routt |

The Routt to Adventure: ATVing in North Routt

ATVing in North Routt provides views of Hahns Peak and Steamboat Lake that few see. You'll also be gifted a complimentary dust mask.
Shelby Reardon

There’s no better time to get out and explore Routt County and the Yampa Valley than summer. The Routt to Adventure is a series of short guides to popular and maybe some not-so popular activities and destinations around Steamboat Springs. I love to be prepared, so I’ll offer a breakdown of what to bring, what not to bring, things to remember and any tips to get the most out of your day. If you have any suggestions for places or activities for me to explore, email

HAHNS PEAK VILLAGE — I have never had so much dirt on my face in my life. 

After parking the all terrain-vehicle back at the Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse, I stripped off my helmet. Even after removing the slightly-too-big-for-my-freakishly-small-head and bulky helmet, I still felt like there was something covering my face.

I took off my sunglasses. They were covered with a layer of dust and had flecks of dried mud on them. My face, not totally covered by the helmet, looked the exact same. I was caked in a layer of filth from two hours of ATVing on dusty, occasionally muddy, forest roads in North Routt. 

My eyes were red, begging me to remove my contact lenses. My nose itched incessantly, my lips were chapped, and my hair had long forgotten the ponytail I put it in hours earlier. I had a Fu Manchu made of dust. Thankfully, everyone did, so rather than get self conscious, we all laughed. Of course, we still made a beeline to the bathroom to rinse off our faces. 

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

All the grit and grime was worth it, though. I had only been ATVing a few times when I was younger growing up in the backwoods of Vermont. I had also been four-wheeling countless times in my dad’s beat up Cherokee. I had never been in a side-by-side, though. 

I had no desire to drive the thing. That responsibility fell on my boyfriend, who did a great job and is a fantastic driver. I’m so glad the pressure of deciding what rocks to avoid and what speed to go fell on him. 

We were in the middle of a small conga line led by a guide bringing us up small forest roads at the base of Hahns Peak. He paused at every intersection, ensuring that no one got lost. He brought us up forest roads lined with columbines. We saw the rock-topped Hahns Peak from an angle that deer and marmots are most familiar with.

We navigated deep mud, steep hills and open meadows. The flat fields were the best time to hang back, create a sizable gap between you and the ATV in front of you, then gun it to catch up.

I recommend using the bathroom before buckling up. The bumps paired with a tight seatbelt put a lot of pressure on the bladder. Even starting on empty, I had to go again the second we got back.

What to bring

Gloves, cheap sunglasses or goggles, bandana: Cover your damn face. The bugs, dust and mud get all the places you don’t want it. I brought a bandana but wasn’t sure if it would be comfortable under the helmet. If I were to go back and do it over, I’d find a way to get the bandana right under my sunglasses and cover my face. 

Muscle relaxant: OK not really, but you should be relaxed. The stiffer you are when going over bumps and navigating ruts, the more stress you’re putting on muscles and bones, and you will definitely feel it the next day. Just relax, move with the vehicle and maybe be prepared to pop some Tylenol in the morning. 

What to leave at home

An expensive camera: I barely had my phone out to take photos or videos, let alone a large, expensive camera. First of all, there’s nowhere to store your camera. If you had it in a bag and tied it down in the back, it wouldn’t be accessible throughout the drive and not worth bringing. If you had it on your lap or around your neck, you would have to hold it down and have a bag around it to prevent dust and dirt from dirtying it up. It’s just not worth it.

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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