What if you could ski during the day and then rest your weary bones in a natural hot spring? If that sounds like paradise, a trip to Steamboat Springs might be in order.
Roughly a three-hour drive from Denver, Steamboat Springs is a charming town with a main street alight with wild, wild Western history. In the summer, it's a mecca of hiking and mountain biking. Come winter, it's a powder-magnet offering fantastic tree skiing and family fun on the mountain. Year-round, it's one of the best places to soak in Colorado.
Steamboat isn't just one mountain—it's a range of mountains all huddled under one awesome resort. The Steamboat range includes Mount Werner, four peaks (Sunshine, Storm, Thunderhead, and Christie), and Pioneer Ridge. The tree skiing on Pioneer Ridge and Sunshine and Storm Peaks are where it's at. The resort even registered the name for their unique snow: Champagne Powder(R). Who wouldn't want to get knee deep in that?
Beginners can do laps on the long Why Not run off the Thunderhead Express. Intermediate skiers can hang out all day cruising the fun blues skier's left off of Sunshine Express, and dipping over to the right to try their legs out on blacks. Advanced skiers will love the chutes off of Morningside Lift, and the extreme forested terrain of Mt. Werner. When your legs need a break, head to the T Bar for a drink.
If you want to do some night skiing, but don't want to skin up the mountain, Steamboat offers lift-serviced resort skiing until 8:30pm through February 20 and until 9pm through March 30! Dress warmly and bust out some glow necklaces to up the fun factor.
Where to Stay
The Steamboat Grand is right on the mountain, which makes it a convenient and luxurious spot to stay, with all the amenities a ski tourist could ever want. The Victorian B&B is also a gorgeous and affordable spot. For your own place, contact One Steamboat Place about renting a luxury condo, or run searches on vrbo.com and airbnb.com to find your own private condo if you've got a big group or want to be able to cook your own meals.
Have you been eyeing snow bikers with equal parts curiosity and amusement? Fat bikes might look kinda funny, but they're steadily carving out a spot in the roster of must-try winter activities. Keep your biking legs strong year-round, get a great workout, and try something new. The resort offers lessons and rentals to get you started. Dogsledding, nordic skiing, and winter horseback riding at Saddle Mountain Ranch are just a few other activities to try on a winter trip to Steamboat.
On Steamboat's main drag—Lincoln Avenue—there are many fun shops to duck into. From candy kingdoms to outdoor equipment stores to F.M.Light & Sons (a historic Western goods store), you can easily while away an afternoon shopping around.
Finally, Winter Carnival—a tradition over a century old—is held February 4-5 this year and is a fantastic time to visit for fun wintry entertainment.
Don't leave Steamboat without making the 20-30 minute drive to Strawberry Park Hot Springs for a soak in one of their natural pools. Your muscles will thank you later!
Where to Eat
|a morning Manhattan at Carl's Tavern!|
For a small town in the middle of nowhere, Steamboat has an astounding selection of restaurants to choose from. If you want to try all the amazing food Steamboat has to offer, you're going to have to chart a dining course carefully.
For breakfast, the Creekside Café & Grill offers a dizzying array of Benedicts and just about every American breakfast plate known to mankind. On Sunday, do brunch at Carl's Tavern and order The Beast—trust us, you won't regret it and you won't need to eat again until dinner.
For lunch (assuming you didn't consume The Beast!), head to The Paramount right at the base area for a gigantic, melty, hot sandwich that you can easily split with your skiing companion. The Philadelphia Cheesesteak is out of this world.
|sandwich at The Paramount at The Base Area|
If you can get a seat aprés ski at Yama, the new Japanese fusion spot right next door to The Paramount, take it and slurp up a bowl of warming ramen.
For dinner, if you're a Southern transplant or if you just simply lust after buttery biscuits, Low Country Kitchen—owned by Southerners Katy and Brian Vaughn—is a must visit. Drink one of their strong cocktails and die and go to hog heaven with a pile of their ribs. If you're celebrating a special occasion or are seeking a date night spot in Steamboat, Aurum is the place to be. Be sure to try the Crispy Curry Cauliflower and the Crab Cake.
A video of Steamboat Springs skiing: