“Ski Town USA”, aka Steamboat Springs, is a western ski town with charm and character. It’s most known for Steamboat Ski Resort, which brings visitors to the area all winter long.
There’s both a historic downtown and mountain village, situated about a few miles apart. Summer is also a favorite time to visit the “Boat”. The town is an excellent choice for those who can’t make a decision between a laid-back, relaxing vacation and an action-packed trip full of recreation.
Thanks to Steamboat’s lower alpine elevation, it’s a happening place to be year round. It doesn’t get as blistering windy as some other Colorado locations and is a perfect adventure-land for recreation.
The name Steamboat Springs came from early French trappers who thought they heard steamboats chugging up the Yampa River. It was actually the town’s hot springs bubbling, but the name stuck.
They say if you come to Steamboat Springs, you’ll never leave or at least keep returning year after year. That’s the Yampa Valley curse. We mentioned it in our article on best ski towns in Colorado.
Steamboat Springs is a ski town with a true cowboy flare. It’s naturally laid back, with a friendly and inviting feel. There is a separate mountain village and historic downtown Steamboat Springs. The mountain village, consisting of Gondola Square and Ski Time Square, is located at the base of the slopes. Downtown Steamboat is a short five minute drive from the resort.
- Four local state parks offer nice campgrounds: Pearl Lake, Stagecoach, Steamboat Lake and Yampa River.
- Buffalo Pass in the Routt National Forest has a campground as well as free dispersed car camping along the pass. From downtown (heading west) turn right on 3rd Ave, and then right onto Fish Creek Falls Rd. Take 2nd left on Amethyst Drive which turns into CR 36. A few miles up on the right will be signs for Buff Pass/CR 38.
- Rabbit Ears Pass has a campground and dispersed car camping on most dirt roads.
- Yampa River runs right through downtown, offering outstanding trout fishing.
- Nearby state parks all have places for fishing.
- Fish Creek Falls is located a mere 10 minutes from downtown Steamboat. This scenic locale is open year round for hiking. It costs $5 to park your vehicle for the day.
- To the east of town is Rabbit Ears Pass, with loads of trails.
Top 17 Cool Hotels in Steamboat Springs – Who doesn’t enjoy a good trip to the ‘Boat!? It’s one of those crazy mountain towns that keeps you coming back season after season. I mean there’s a curse and about it and all. Those who come to Steamboat are doomed to return…
Hotels and Lodging:
- Antlers at Christie Base – luxury 4 star
- Chalet Val D’Isere – luxury vacation rental
- Chateau Chamonix – luxury 4 star
- Hotel Bristol – historic downtown
- Sheraton Resort Villas – luxury 4 star
- Strawberry Park – hot springs lodging
- Torian Plum Resort – luxury 3 star ski-in/ski-out
- Wyndham Vacation Resorts – luxury 3 star vacation rentals
Steamboat locals like to eat well, and it shows in the cuisine around town. It’s a large enough town to support your classic fast food chains, such as McDonalds and Wendy’s, and in addition to fast casual, ethnic eateries and plenty of fresh, western fare to choose from.
Bars and Restaurants:
- Ore House at the Pine Grove – Steamboat’s most iconic steakhouse, offers a fine dining in a historic, Old West setting.
Jan – MusicFest at Steamboat – six days of live music all of town, plus lodging and skiing in one pass, early January.
Jan – Cowboy Downhill – Real cowboys race down the mountain in mid January.
Feb – Winter Carnival – Ice sculptures, contests and ski jumping in early February.
Feb – WinterWonderGrass – three day part bluegrass music festival and part beer festival in mid February.
Mar/Apr – Bud Light Rocks the Boat – live band every March Saturday in Gondola Square.
Apr – Steamboat Cardboard Classic – Closing day sledding competition where every team designs their own colorful cardboard sled. It takes place on the bunny slope into Gondola Square in mid April.
Apr – Steamboat Pond Skim Closing Day Celebration – Last day of the year come out to test your luck on skiing or snowboarding over a pond at Gondola Square. Get soaked or be a hero!
Jun – Reds, Whites & Brews in the Boat – One day kicking off the start of summer with unlimited wine and craft beer.
Jun-Jul – Cowboy’s Roundup Days – For more than 100 years Steamboat has celebrate their five night Independence Day weekend festival.
Jun-Aug – Pro Rodeo Series – Weekly rodeo from mid June to mid August.
Jul – Hot Air Balloon Rodeo – A colorful weekend in Steamboat Springs in early July.
Sep – Steamboat OktoberWest – Steamboat’s western take on this German tradition in mid September.
Things to do near Steamboat Springs
- Fish Creek Falls (3mi)
- Clark (19mi)
- Craig (41mi)
- Hahns Peak (25mi)
- Hayden (25mi)
- Kremmling (51mi)
- Oak Creek (21mi)
- Phippsburg (23mi)
- Toponas (37mi)
- Yampa (30mi)
Deep Successes and Powder Dreams: Steamboat Powdercats – Buffalo Pass, a mecca for backcountry skiing and riding, consistently boasts Colorado’s deepest annual snowpack with depths in the 500+ inch range every year. It’s also only a quick, 20-minute…
Winter Walk to Steamboat’s Fish Creek Falls – Steamboat Springs is well known throughout Colorado for its champagne powder skiing, natural hot springs and sensational shopping & dining. Over the winter months, most travelers miss out on…
Racing down Steamboat’s Yee-Haw Tubing Hill – After a few exciting days on the slopes, it was time put the skies away for a day. Saddleback Ranch’s Yee-Haw Tubing Hill is located about twenty minutes outside downtown Steamboat Springs…