Don’t miss the Cowboy Downhill and Balloon Glow at Steamboat Resort this holiday weekend

Tucker Miller, a bull rider from Denton, Montana, does his best to hang on after landing the jump at the 45th annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill at the Steamboat Ski Area.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Resort celebrated 60 years since the ski area opened with a poma lift and a few ski runs. To celebrate six decades in the business and the holiday weekend, the resort is hosting the Cowboy Up Balloon Glow and Cowboy Downhill in the coming days.

The downhill started when local legend and the resort’s director of skiing Billy Kid and Larry Mahan, a six-time all-around world champion cowboy, invited ProRodeo stars for a day of skiing. Over the course of almost 50 years, the downhill has become one of the most popular events of the season. 

Cowboy Up Balloon Glow

On Sunday, Jan. 15, just as the sun is setting, brightly colored balloons will rise from the cobblestones of Steamboat Square, dazzling passersby and diners from 5 to 6 p.m.

Six large and vibrant hot air balloons will not only provide a beautiful sight, but will also give off a little bit of warmth from their flames. The balloons will be tied down so they don’t leave the cozy base area. 

How to make the most of it: 

There’s really no way to go wrong. The balloons are going to be visible from most of the base area. While most eateries will be busy, the balloon glow might serve as a great excuse to try a new place to get a new view of the resort’s base area. 

Cowboy Downhill

The next day, Monday, Jan. 16, skiers will strap on their boots and hats to bring country back to the slopes of Steamboat Resort with the 48th Annual Cowboy Downhill. 

More than 100 professional cowboys and cowgirls make the trip to Ski Town USA to try their hand at another extreme sport. The event is always timed with the National Western Stock Show in Denver. 

There’s a delightful mix of people in cowboy hats who have been on skis before and those who have clearly not. 

The action kicks off at 1 p.m. on Stampede, the run nearest to the Steamboat Gondola. Two rodeo pros will zip down the dual slalom course before lassoing a person, saddling a horse and crossing the finish line. 

A cowboy tests his roping skills during the 2020 Bud Light Cowboy Downhill at the Steamboat Resort.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

How to make the most of it:

There are no bad vantage points, but why not try them all?

Get to the course a little early and walk up as high as you wish. Get a good spot by the start to witness the chaos, or position yourself by a jump. Then, as the event proceeds, slowly make your way down, taking advantage of gaps in the crowd left by less patient people who decide to dip out early. 

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One of the most popular spots to hang out is the bottom of the course where competitors decide whether to pop out of or stay in their bindings before lassoing, saddling and dashing. It can be one of the most entertaining stretches of the entire event and therefore one of the most crowded places. Get there early, or be on the lookout for people leaving and snag their spots before the crowd adjusts. 

Be patient! While the racing goes on for quite a while, you really don’t want to miss out on the Stampede, which sends all competitors down the course at one time. The first to the bottom wins. 

MarchFourth Marching Band plays the Bud Light Rocks the Boat free concert series on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Steamboat Resort.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Live music

Immediately after the mess of a mass start, Woodie Procell and the Snowy River Band will take over the stage in Steamboat Square.

More free music takes place at the stage on Saturday, Jan. 14, with a cappella group Doox of Yale, presented by Strings Music Festival.

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