Yippee Kiyay! Western Fun in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com
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Yippee Kiyay! Western Fun in Steamboat

Horses stand in a meadow along River Road just outside of Steamboat Springs Monday. Heavy snow, that showed no signs of letting up, forced the horses to stand near a barn to find shelter from the snow storm.
John F. Russell

Steamboat was a ranching town way before it ever became a world-class ski resort. This is illustrated in the summer’s wide-open cattle ranches and weekly rodeo to the genuine western hospitality you feel the moment you arrive.

Horseback ride

Who says you can’t take a nice horseback ride in winter? Enjoy a taste of Steamboat’s authentic western heritage by taking a horseback ride with the entire family. Saddle up at Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch, which offers family-friendly rides on snow-laden trails 18 miles north of Steamboat near Clark (970-879-3495, steamboathorses.com); or Saddleback Ranch (970-879-3711, saddlebackranch.net) just a few miles west of town. For lessons, try the CR Summit Riding Club for English and Western clinics just 15 minutes west of downtown (970-879-6201, crsummit.com). “There’s nothing better than a horseback ride to get a taste of Steamboat’s heritage and get some of the best views around,” says Ray Heid, co-owner of Del’s Triangle 3.

Sleigh Rides

Dash through the snow on a winter sleigh ride in Steamboat with friends and family, either under a twinkling starlight sky or catching snowflakes on your tongue. At the resort, ride a sleigh behind a snowcat at the top of the gondola to dinner at Ragnar’s for a five-course Scandinavian meal, hinting at Steamboat’s early Norwegian culture (Fridays, Saturdays and holidays); take a regular snowcat ride to Four Points Lodge for a succulent, multi-course meal; or go for a horse-drawn sleigh ride before or after dinner at Haymaker Golf Course (970-871-5150, steamboat.com).

There’s plenty of other horse-pulled adventure around town as well. Saddleback Ranch (970-879-3711, saddlebackranch.com), an 8,000-acre, fourth-generation, family-owned ranch just out of town, offers two options, bells jingling from Belgium horses on each one. A 40-minute dinner ride takes you to the Double Dollar Lodge for hot chocolate, a home-cooked meal (try the New York strip) and old-fashioned entertainment (such as learning how to calf rope). A shorter ride circles to and from the ranch’s Longhorn Lodge. Elk River Guest Ranch offers a horse-drawn sleigh ride with Belgium draft horses to a candlelit teepee dinner, complete with a shuttle to and from town (970-879-6220, elkriverguestranch.com). Hahns Peak Roadhouse (970-879-4404, hahnspeakroadhouse.com) offers a similar sleigh ride to and from their lodge on Routt County Road 129, beneath snow-capped Farwell Mountain and Hahns Peak.

F.M. Light and Sons

For a true taste of Steamboat’s western heritage, visit F.M. Light and Sons in the heart of downtown (look for the fake horse outside). Now in its fifth generation of family management and ownership, the store was founded in Steamboat Springs in 1905 and still offers the most authentic ranch and cowboy apparel and footwear in town. “Our longevity is not only a celebration about our family’s history but also a celebration of Steamboat Springs and the many ranching families who still make their homes here,” says the family’s Ty Lockhart.


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