Steamboat Springs Colorado was once a wild west cowboy town with more barns and horses than folks, never mind skiers. “The Boat” has now grown to be a big ski resort, home to a big fleet of Olympic skiers, families on ski holiday, and snow craving Coloradans on their trademark “champagne powder” days. The icon Steamobat barn is shadowed by shops and hotels, but the surrounding Yampa Valley remains scenic.
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. Steamboat does get busy on weekends and holidays, there are a lot of beds in Steamboat, so lift lines and crowds can be an issue.
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 Steamboat’s self-proclaimed Champagne powder – the 1940s rancher who first skied here said the snow tickled his nose like champagne.
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 than say Copper at over 12,000′ and Breck reaqchign over 13,000′.
Steamboat is known as Ski Town USA, for the most Olympic skiers born and raised than anywhere else in the US, 89 so far. You can race US Ski team times in NASTAR or ski with Olympian Billy Kid, who comes out for a ski run in his classic cowboy hat. Ski the bumps with another Steamboat Olympian – Nelson Carmichael. Steamboat also has a Maverick super pipe next to the NASTAR race course. For kids just learning to ski or snowboard, Steamboat’s lessons emanate conveniently from the base.
On Mountain Dining – 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 T-Bar and Slopeside in Gondola Village. Plus there is the fantastic frontier town of Steamboat Springs just down the road, full of cool shops, Irish Pubs, Italian Mambo, Mexican cantinas, fun bars and pubs, and cowboy coffee cafes. Poke into FM Light and Sons for a classic cowboy hat and jeans shopping experience.
For fun après ski as a family, ride the mountain coaster, which dominates the base slopes of Steamboat – unfortunate placement aesthetically, but the kids don’t care – they’ll love the wild roller coaster ride. Parents can whet their whistle at T-Bar or Slopeside Pub nearby with a view of the ski slopes.
Strawberry Park’s hot springs is a must soak apres ski. Get a shuttle – it’s a long bumpy ride to this authentic natural hot spring in the hills, $15 a head. Of note: at night the Hot Springs are adult-only and apparently swimsuit optional, byob. Another fun evening activity is to ride the 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 pay extra to be first on the mountain a half hour before the public.
Giddy up to Steamboat for a great family ski trip at this authentic Colorado cowboy resort. We highly recommend going non-holiday midweek.
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