What SUP Steamboat? Kids give their input on summer fun in Steamboat Springs
Sometimes I wonder when my kids will discover the significance of the Yampa Valley curse. To them, what we, as adults, see as the ultimate playground is simply an extension of their own backyard.
Whether kids are here to stay or here for a day, they have one thing in common — boredom isn’t an option.
When the Steamboat Pilot & Today asked me, a freelance writer and mom of three, to compile a fun summer guide for kids, I decided to seek the opinion of our community’s young and active. Where better to gauge the truth than straight from the mouths of babes.
This definitive guide for maximizing Steamboat summer fun has been compiled with input from our panel of experts:
- The Mitchell Kids: Kristina, 9, Ellie, 7, and Rowan, 3
- The Drobek Girls: Grace, 12, Marisa, 10, and Izzi, 7
- The Fryer Twins: Jax and Jayden, 11
- The Turek Trio: Sage, 15, Cedar, 12, and Rowan, 8
- The Hagney Duo: Tommy, 10, and Michael, 8
- The Pietras Sisters: Ella, 12, and Norah, 9
- The Bohmer Gang: Coleman and Claire, 11, and Patrick, 8
- The Hoy Boys: Ethan, 9, and Reese, 6
Best short hike: Big thumbs up for Spring Creek, easy walking for all ages and a pond to cool hot toes and skim stones.
Best long hike: It was a close contest between Mad Creek for its array of colored rocks and a meadow to explore at the top, and Rabbit Ears, where the reward is our most definitive landmark.
More than a hike: Ride the gondola at Steamboat Ski Area and head for the bike-free 1-mile-long nature trail. You’ll get views and no complaining from little walkers, especially if you plan to sit and enjoy a bite at one of the picnic tables along the way. Make the most of mountain fun with an all-day activity pass combining a gondola ride with unlimited action at the Coca Cola Adventure Zone located at the base. $45 for 12 and younger.
Camp option: Yampatika wins every time. Who wouldn’t love the chance to sleep with llamas after a day of animal tracking, bug spotting and uncovering the magic of the forest? There still is space left on some weeklong camps. For more information, visit http://www.yampatika.org.
Top tips: Pack plenty of snacks; little walkers love rewards for their stomping efforts. Set up impromptu scavenger hunts along the way; a wildflower or bird guidebook can make a handy companion to prevent flailing interest.
Bikers and boarders
Best short ride: Rotary Trail or Spring Creek were the clear winners on this one.
Best long ride: Emerald Mountain came out tops, especially among our older, more experienced riders.
Catching some air: The BMX track by Howelsen Hill was a hit with younger riders, and the Mountain Bike Park hit the mark for older riders using their Pump Track. Both tracks are free to use.
Skate parks: Bear River Skate Park off the Core Trail west of downtown is where you’ll find kids of all ages perfecting their kick flips and nollies — whatever that means! A smaller skate park is available at Howelsen.
Camp option: Every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Steamboat Bike School on the Mountain has a drop-in camp available from $129 and up. And for the ultimate biking summer camp, check in with Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Adaptive: Steamboat STARS has hand cycles, three-wheeled and foot-pedal adaptive bikes for rent. Their summer camp runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout summer with family-inclusive Sunday Stroll rides from 5 to 7 p.m.
River rats and lake lovers
Fishing: Take advantage of free casting classes, sponsored by Steamboat Flyfisher, at 5 p.m. Saturdays at West Lincoln Park. Fetcher Pond is a good starting place, but our panel gave the Yampa River at Chuck Lewis their vote. Three Island Lake in the Zirkels was the preferred choice for fishing away from town. Steamboat Flyfisher, Straightline Sports and Bucking Rainbow all offer private lessons and guide service.
Kayaking: Paddling around Pearl, Steamboat or Stagecoach lakes were popular options, especially when combined with camping trips. Mountain Sports Kayak School provides weekly kids camps for 9- to 18-year-olds teaching basic boat control to rope throwing and self-rescue. For more information, visit http://www.mountainsportskayak.com.
Paddleboarding: The newest fad has to be paddleboarding for sure. Do it yourself and rent from Ski Haus then head for a lake or Fetcher Pond. Needing some instruction? We had a great experience with Bodhi SUP. Gather a couple of friends and book a group lesson for flat water or river know-how. Visit http://www.bodhisup.com for additional information.
Tubing: This hit the jackpot among our entire panel for the best way to spend a few hours. A stop at the natural hot pools just before Rabbit Ears Motel is a great add-on to the adventure. Little river rats might prefer to stay by the mini waterfall and hunt for rocks, at least mine do! When friends are in town, we grab extra tubes from Backdoor Sports. And boogie boarding at the C and D Holes by Bud Werner Memorial Library is where you’ll find most of our teens on a hot day.
Day-tripper options: Bucking Rainbow’s Whitewater Adventure on the Colorado brings a little adrenaline into play. At $75 per child, they’ll take you there and back, give you lunch and guide you safely down the rapids.
More sedate options include Stagecoach or Steamboat lakes for crawdad hunting, lake swimming, sandcastle building and guide-led talks on all things nature. If you really want to add to the fun, book a pontoon boat for a couple of hours.
Library: Bud Werner Memorial Library offers an incredible array of reading-based fun. Sign up for Read with the Dogs or drop in on Robot Readers and Story-times. Teen readers can chill out in their own section, play board games and enjoy free wifi. Read 1,000 words this summer, and kids can earn a $10 gift card. For a comprehensive list of programs, visit http://www.steamboatlibrary.org.
Off the Beaten Path Bookstore: Grabbing a coffee at the downtown bookstore is another pastime for our teens. Readers can check out new releases or subscribe to the store’s digital offerings.
Tread of the Pioneers Museum: Brush up on local knowledge at the Tread of the Pioneers Museum, where exhibits range from early settlers to Olympic Heritage. Entry is free to locals.
Camp option: Started in 2012 by Emily Krall, Booktrails is Steamboat‘s first literacy learning program of its kind for children. The camps, which all are based outdoors, range in theme from pioneering to Egyptian myths. Carefully chosen books form the basis of every week, taking children on very specific journeys. Students can find themselves in many situations from re-enacting battles to understanding wilderness survival techniques. Private tutoring also is an option for those wanting to keep on top of summer studies. For more information, visit http://www.steamboatbooktrails.org.
Event: The Sketchbook Project, slated for Aug. 13 to 15, is an interactive global tour bringing 4,500 sketchbooks in a mobile library to Bud Werner Memorial Library. The display includes 200 Steamboat submissions.
Sew Steamboat: Classes will be running through August for budding seamstresses and quilters. Call 970-879-3222 for availability.
Splatz: Now located at Snow Bowl, check out kids painting and bowling combos on Thursdays. Visit http://www.splatzcanvasandwine.com for additional information.
Potters Wheel: Paint your own pottery — a great option on a hot or rainy day. For information, visit http://www.potterswheelsteamboat.com.
Masters of art and music
Music: Pack a picnic and head to the Yampa Valley Botanic Park at noon Thursdays through summer. Free concerts organized by Strings in the Mountains will have barefooted, young music lovers running through the grass to an eclectic mix of sounds from banjos to trumpets. Strings in the Mountains youth concerts are another great option. Offered at 11 a.m. Tuesday mornings for only $1 per child, these concerts are offered at the Strings tent with entertainment ranging from puppeteers to brass bands.
Steamboat All Arts Festival: Taking place Aug. 8 to 17, the festival is an ageless celebration of our commitment to the arts. For a full listing of events, visit http://www.steamboat-chamber.com.
Camps: Steamboat is home to one of the oldest performing arts camps in the country. Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp is offering instruction for the 101st year with concerts running all summer.
Young at Art, run by the Art Depot, offers classes for all ages in photography, creative writing, dancing and theater. For information, visit http://www.steamboatarts.org.
Make Studio located above Lyons Drugstore offers workshops and camps in printmaking, collage and drawing — http://www.makestudio-steamboat.com.
Operating out of a quaint farmhouse studio on the outskirts of downtown Steamboat, Stout Ladies have one camp left for summer. For information about Liza’s fine art workshop, contact email@example.com.
The dancers in our panel sent us tapping and pirouetting our way to Elevation Dance Studio on Oak Street. Stay with lessons beyond the summer and you have the chance to perform in seasonal productions, including The Nutcracker at Christmas.
Swim: Downtown’s Old Town Hot Springs is another local kids hot spot. Lap swimming, slides, a climbing wall and the inflatable wibbit all got a mention from our panel. For information, visit http://steamboathotsprings.org.
Gymnastics: Classes and drop-ins for all ages make Excel Gymnastics a popular yearround venue for Steamboat kids and visitors. A summer schedule can be found at http://www.879-egos.com.
Golf: Haymaker Golf Course and Sheraton’s Rollingstone Ranch Golf Course both offer kids clinics and private lessons. If there’s no time to play a full round then head for the practice range and grab a bucket of balls.
Tennis: Various options run throughout the summer at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. There are four sessions left of U.S. Open Camps for ages 9 to 15. Monday through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. players will be taught stroke technique, skills, rules and etiquette. Check out http://www.10s.com. Tennis and volleyball also is available at Howelsen Hill.
Soccer: Recreational or competitive leagues and camps are offered spring through fall at http://www.steamboat-soccer.com. Grab a ball and head for Whistler or Emerald Park for your own kick about.
Ice hockey: Just because the snow has gone doesn’t mean our hockey fans get to twiddle their thumbs. Drop in to Stick and Puck at the Howelsen Ice Arena for $9. Open skate sessions also are an option.
Way out West
Horseback riding: Get in the saddle with a summer horseback ride at Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch. One-hour to full-day options are led by this six-generation Yampa Valley family.
Cattle drive: Kids 10 and older can take part in three-hour morning rides that offer a true taste of our cow town heritage. Check available dates at http://www.saddlebackranch.net.
Rodeo: It’s not just cowboys who get to show us how it’s done at the Pro Rodeo series at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena on Friday and Saturday nights.. Kids ages 6 to 12 can join the calf scramble with those 5 and younger trying their luck at the ram scramble. For more information, visit http://www.steamboatprorodeo.com. Locals love Thursday Gymkhana nights where kids rope, ride and barrel race. Look out for Facebook updates on the Routt County Gymkhana Club page.
Ultimate frisbee: A big favorite with our teens are the drop-in ultimate Frisbee games on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the field in front of Steamboat Springs High School.
Amaze’n Steamboat Family Fun Park: Our very own little amusement park with miniature golf, gemstone panning, water walkerz and the shoot ‘n’ shower basket to name a few things to keep kiddos occupied.
Movies on the Mountain: On Saturday nights throughout the summer, all ages can enjoy a movie under the stars at the base of Mount Werner. Sponsored by Coca Cola, free screenings range from “E.T.” to the “Hunger Games.” Just remember to pack your own chair.
Grab a bite
Ice cream: By far the best deal in town and most atmospheric is Lyons Soda Fountain. Starting at $1 for a kids scoop, who can resist being perched up at the counter with a jukebox playing tucking into lashings of hot fudge sauce.
Milkshake and fries: Johnny B Good’s on Lincoln is the place for some all American favorites.
Rocket Fizz and Fuzziwigs: Both candy stores in town have our young folks talking.
Family dining: When it comes to breakfast, this family can’t see past Creekside. Chocolate croissants with strawberries and anything with their homemade chorizo are our staples. Rex’s American Grill & Bar gets votes with their corn toss and hula hooping options to keep kids happy. Slopeside Grill with its proximity to the mountain promenade and yummy pizza gets thumbs up from our panel. For tasty downtown fare, it’s Ciao Gelato. A promise of dessert there ensures clean plates every time.
However your kids choose to spend their summer, remember to keep them hydrated and use plenty of sunscreen. High altitude and high temperatures can be a dangerous combination. ◆
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