I often say I’ve never met a ski area I didn’t like. Well some I like a lot more than others. Some just have a quality beyond terrain and scenic beauty – a vibe and soul that speaks to you and makes you feel both welcome and engaged. Steamboat Colorado, where I have skied twice now in a decade, has that special something. First, Steamboat is a Wild West cowboy town with a classic frontier town feel, but with a tame friendly side – and a soft spot for families.
Steamboat’s ski terrain is beautiful, mostly gentle with a few sweet steep aspen glades and chutes peppered in, typically loaded with Colorado snow. The scenery on the mountain of the Yampa Valley is stunning, typically under brilliant blue sky, while the view from downtown Steamboat Springs of Mount Werner and Steamboat’s ski slopes, is one of the best anywhere. As for on mountain accommodations, The Steamboat Grand in Gondola Village is perfect, from the ski valet at the base of the slopes for your gear and boots, to the beautiful outdoor heated pool and hot tubs, and the spacious suites with gas fireplaces and mountain views.
With almost 3,000 acres of ski terrain on several peaks, from the highest Storm Peak and nearby Pony Express, to Sunshine and Rendezvous Saddle, and Morningside Park on the backside, Steamboat has much to explore with well-placed lifts, starting each day on the signature base to mid mountain Gondola. For kids just learning to ski or snowboard, all the lessons are conveniently at the base.
Steamboat is graced with gorgeous aspen glades, pleasant groomed cruisers on the face of the clock, from High Noon to 1-3 o’clock and steeper Rolex in the Sunshine area, to more pitched skiing on Storm Peak and Pony Express. Steamboat has some steeper glades – Christmas Tree, Chutes 1-3, Closet and Shadows, usually filled with with Steamboat’s trademarked Champagne powder, over 300 inches annually.
Steamboat is not so high elevation as other Colorado ski resorts, with a base village at 6,000’ and a 10,568’ summit atop Morningside, making it easier to acclimate. There truly is skiing for everyone at Steamboat, and fun activities like skiing with Billie Kid, who comes out for a ski run and tour most days, in his classic cowboy hat. You can race him in NASTAR or ski the bumps with another Steamboat Olympian – Nelson Carmichael. Steamboat also has a Maverick super pipe next to the NASTAR race course.
Steamboat is known as Ski Town USA, for the most Olympic skiers born and raised than anywhere else in the US, 79 so far. Aside for Steamboat’s great skiing, there’s spectacular on mountain dining at Hazie’s, a very scenic setting for lunch or dinner atop the gondola, and après ski at Slopeside in Gondola Village. Plus there is the fantastic cowboy town of Steamboat Springs just down the road, full of cool shops, Mexican cantinas, fun bars and pubs, and cowboy coffee cafes. Poke into FM Light and Sons for a classic cowboy shopping experience.
For fun après ski as a family, visit the incredible natural hot springs at Strawberry Park – get a shuttle- it’s a long bumpy ride to this authentic hot spring in the hills, $15 a head. Of note: at night the Hot Springs are adult-only and apparently swimsuit optional. Another fun evening activity is to ride gondola and take a sleigh ride to Ragnar’s for a candlelight dinner. Steamboat also offers night skiing Thursday- Monday, and First Tracks every day if you want to be first on the mountain at 8am for fresh powder before the public.
Giddy up to Steamboat for a great family ski trip at this authentic Colorado cowboy resort.
165 trails and glades, 16 lifts
3,688′ vertical, 10,568′ summit elevation, 350′ of snow annually
Steamboat is a Top Colorado Family Ski Resort