Fireworks are a go for July 4th in Steamboat Springs |

Fireworks a go for July 4th in Steamboat as fire risk dips to low

City to host fireworks display for first time since 2016

Fireworks explode over Howelsen Hill on July 4, 2011.
Scott Franz

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs will celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and a laser show this year.

It’s the first time fire risk has been low enough to allow fireworks since 2016, and it’s the first time Steamboat will host both a fireworks and laser show.

“It is so green and lush that barring a hot, searing tornado that dries out every shred of grass, which is unlikely if you look at the weather, we’re having fireworks and a laser show,” said Winnie DelliQuadri, assistant to the city manager.

The show could be rained out, but it appears unlikely that fire risk will cancel the pyrotechnics.

“There’s always a chance something dramatic happens, but, as I’m walking in the snowstorm right now, I can’t imagine that it’s going to dry out that quickly, so I’m expecting fireworks will be a go,” Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Mel Stewart said Friday.

Once the animals in the Fourth of July Rodeo clear out of the Howelsen Hill Rodeo Grounds, the fireworks will take flight, likely around 9:25 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, DelliQuadri said.

After the fireworks, the laser show will start at the Howelsen Amphitheater, closing out a day of summer ski jumping, rodeo-ing and music from a live DJ.

DelliQuadri recommends watching the laser show from the amphitheater. She said, though you might be able to see it from Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs and other popular firework vantage points, it’s best seen from the ski hill. 

Fireworks will also be taking off at Steamboat Lake State Park on Saturday, July 6.

Planning ahead

The city booked the laser show in January when it was still unclear what the fire risk would be in July.

The Steamboat Springs City Council approved a budget that allowed the city to purchase both fireworks and the laser show, just in case the risk of fire kept pyrotechnics grounded.

“I think that is our plan from here on out,” she said.

Since the 2010 fireworks show, the city has canceled Fourth of July fireworks shows three times in 2012, 2017 and 2018.

And while Steamboat’s first family of fireworks, the Bordens, are helping with the show, DelliQuadri said people shouldn’t expect any mega-fireworks, like you might see at Steamboat’s annual Winter Carnival extravaganza. 

“We still save those for winter,” DelliQuadri said.

The city asks that people avoid driving to Howelsen on July 4. Steamboat Springs Transit will have additional buses running that day, and those who want to enjoy the festivities downtown are encouraged to park at Stockbridge Transit Center or Steamboat Springs High School.

And even though the city’s fireworks are going on as planned, Stewart reminds people that it’s illegal for individuals to light fireworks that leave the ground.

“There are legal fireworks, and there are illegal fireworks,” he said. “The public should only use legal fireworks. … They can buy legal fireworks at the fireworks stand here in town or anywhere in Colorado. They shouldn’t be bringing fireworks in from out of state.”  

Lower fire risk

Lower fire danger this holiday will hopefully give firefighters a break for the first time in two years.

Steamboat Fire Rescue responded to three grass fires sparked on the Fourth of July in 2018.

At this point last year, in Northwest Colorado alone, firefighters took on flames in Dinosaur National Monument, near Wolcott, north of Craig, near Maybell and in Oak Creek Canyon.

In 2017, the Milk Creek Fire, 13 miles northeast of Hayden, ignited on July 1 and burned 480 acres in West Routt.

While all this moisture has been good in keeping fire weather out of the area, Routt County Emergency Operations Director David “Mo” DeMorat said it’s a double-edged sword. He explained that more moisture and more vegetation also means more fuels to burn when the valley eventually does dry out.

“We are not in fire danger now, which we’re pretty thankful for because we’ve had a lot of lightning this spring so far,” he said.

Fire managers are working through training and planning for when fire season does arrive.

For the time being, Stewart said the Steamboat area is likely to remain in low fire risk for the next three to four weeks.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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