Year-round recreation is abundant in Steamboat Springs

Rafting on the Yampa River is a favorite spring and summer pastime in Steamboat Springs (file photo).

Soak in the hot springs

Steamboat Springs was named by early settlers who thought its gurgling hot springs sounded like steamboats. Soak for yourself at Old Town Hot Springs downtown, which harbors hot pools, a lap pool, climbing wall and a pair of 230-foot water slides. For a more rustic soak, head to Strawberry Park Hot Springs seven miles north of town. Head east on Fish Creek Falls Road and a take a left onto Amethyst Drive to connect to Routt County Road 36. Local’s tip: Clothing optional after dark.

Play a round

Hit the links at any of Steamboat’s four beautiful and varied courses. Haymaker is a hybrid links-style course set on the valley floor. Rollingstone Ranch Golf Club and the members-only Catamount Ranch & Club offer true mountain golfing at its finest. For a quick nine, try Steamboat Golf Club on the west side of town. “You can play everyday and not get tired of any of them,” says local Olympian and Moose’s Loose Golf Tournament founder Moose Barrows.

Tube the Yampa

Tubing the Yampa River is one of Steamboat’s most popular summertime activities. Go on your own or with an outfitter offering tubes and transportation (bonus: making it through the C-hole upright). “It’s a big part of the Steamboat summer experience,” says local river guide Kent Vertrees. Please, no glass, littering, Styrofoam coolers, nudity, dogs or alcohol.

Visit the Botanic Park

Smell the roses and take in other blooms at the Yampa River Botanic Park along the Core Trail. The outdoor oasis features 30 gardens and a variety of ponds, and is home to a spectacular array of plants and flowers. The free park also hosts Music on the Green concerts at 12:15 p.m. every Thursday. Take a picnic and a blanket, but not your dog.   

The term “Champagne Powder” was coined in Steamboat Springs in 1958 by Kremmling rancher Joe McElroy

Fish the river

The town stretch of the Yampa River carries as many as 2,000 trout per mile in the city limits (catch-and-release with flies and lures only). Other hotspots include the Stagecoach tailwaters, Chuck Lewis Wildlife Areas, Elk River, and Casey’s and Fetcher ponds. “The Yampa has great public access to incredible fishing water all within city limits,” says local Olympian and Steamboat Flyfisher owner Johnny Spillane.

Shop downtown

Steamboat’s historic shopping district combines the nostalgia of old-time storefronts with boutique shops, galleries and more. Downtown you’ll find such venerable establishments as F.M. Light & Sons (look for the plastic horse on Lincoln Avenue), founded in 1905, as well as longtime favorite Allen’s. 

Hike and bike award-winning trails

Steamboat voters recently approved more than $5 million in new trail building funds, meaning there’s no better time to ride or hike area pathways. From Emerald Mountain to Mount Werner, the region has a host of trails for hikers and riders of all walks. Plus, the seven-mile Yampa Core Trail paralleling the river downtown is a perfect ride for families. Or head to the lakes and mountains of the Mount Zirkel and Flat Tops wilderness areas, and take in magnificent Fish Creek Falls, a cascading 283-foot waterfall originally pictured on cans of Coors beer.

Visit a state park

Two great state park lakes let you water- and wake-ski, stand-up paddleboard, swim or wade off sandy beaches. North of town, 1,053-acre Steamboat Lake has a full-service marina and carries the Colorado Wildlife Commission’s Gold Medal rating for fishing. Camp, swim at a beach and rent everything from speed boats to houseboats. Just south, 780-acre Stagecoach Reservoir stocks 35,000 rainbow trout and offers a swimming beach, motor boat rentals and a 10-mile trail around its perimeter.

Tackle some tennis

The Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Centeroffers six indoor, cushioned hard courts, five outdoor hard courts, three outdoor clay courts and eight outdoor pickleball courts (as well as taped courts inside). Reserve court times for games or practice, join a league or take a lesson from a professional instructor.

Parks and Rec facilities

Steamboat’s 28 public parks include playgrounds, tennis and volleyball courts, softball, soccer, rugby and lacrosse fields, picnic areas, a botanic park, fishing ponds, bike parks, rodeo grounds, kayak courses and skate parks. The city also operates an indoor ice rink, year-round tennis center, Haymaker Golf Course and the Howelsen Hill Sports Complex and Ski Area. The seven-mile long Yampa River Core Trail connects several parks throughout town.

Steamboat Ski Resort

Averaging 356 inches at mid-mountain per year, the Steamboat Ski Area, now part of the Ikon Pass, gets some of the most and best powder in the country. “It’s truly what distinguishes Steamboat from most other resorts,” says local Olympian Nelson Carmichael.

And with 2,965 skiable acres, including world-class tree skiing, there’s plenty of space to track it up. Add 3,668 feet of vertical, a fleet of groomers and four terrain parks (including a 500-foot-long superpipe) and it has something all abilities.

Need a little Me Time? The Kids’ Vacation Center (note: closed for 2020-21 due to COVID-19 protocols) offers a variety of kids programs and is one reason Steamboat has been named the No. 1 Family Resort in the West by SKI magazine.

For apres, a variety of bars and restaurants line the resort’s base, including Timber & Torch, the ice bar at Slopeside, the T-Bar and Truffle Pig. Pandemic protocols permitting, the resort also hosts the Bud Light Rocks the ‘Boat concert series, featuring free music in gondola square, as well as the Steamboat MusicFest and Ski Jam.

Top all this with town’s genuine western hospitality and natural hot springs and you get a world-class winter destination — which you can toast with the resort’s namesake Champagne.

Other winter recreation
  • Howelsen Hill Ski Area is home to the 107-year-old Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and features three lifts, a complete ski jumping complex, world-class cross country ski trails and Howelsen Ice Arena.
  • Five world-class Nordic ski areas are within a 30-mile radius, offering 120 kilometers of groomed skate skiing and classic country ski trails.
  • Thanks to rolling terrain, vast public land and great snowfall, Steamboat offers amazing snowmobiling, highlighted by Rabbit Ears and Buffalo passes.
  • Other wintertime recreation options: dogsledding, ice climbing, snowshoeing, snowbiking, ice skating/hockey, sledding and more.

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