Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is one of America’s great natural playgrounds and is filled with outdoor activities. Located in the state’s northern Yampa Valley, visitors will find a picnic area at every turn, hiking trails, Olympic-level ski resorts, hot springs, breweries and much more.
This amazing Colorado town is also dripping with Native American and early pioneer history.
Whether you are a beer nerd, nature enthusiast, wellness seeker, or Olympian, Steamboat Springs presents the best that the Rocky Mountains has to offer. Here are 13 things to do in Steamboat Springs that you and your family will love.
STEAMBOAT SKI RESORT
Steamboat Ski Resort is one of Colorado’s premier skiing and snowboarding destinations. Its white powder is affectionately known as the “Champagne Powder Snow.” A local Steamboater in the 1950s said that the perfect snow conditions “tickled his nose like champagne,” and the name stuck.
The ski area averages 319 inches of snow per season across its 2,965 skiable acres. There are 169 trails with routes suitable for first-time skiers through Olympians. The longest route is three miles long!
Ready to hit the slopes, but don’t have the equipment? We’ve made snowboarding a lifestyle, but before we owned our equipment, Ski Butlers was our ski (and boarding) rental service of choice. These guys deliver to your hotel or condo – and pick up- for only a few dollars more than the jam-packed shops just down the road. And the equipment? Best in the business! Check out Ski Butlers on your next vacation!
If you are not a skier or snowboarder, there are still plenty of adventurous winter activities on site. The Outlaw Mountain Coaster stretches over a mile long and offers thrilling drops and 360 degree turns. Another popular activity is the two or four-hour-long snowmobile tour that takes guests along the Colorado Continental Divide.
After a long day of shredding the slopes, visitors can enjoy a meal from one of the 18 on-site restaurants or visit one of the four nearby local breweries for a “recovery beer.”
Editor’s Note: We love Steamboat Springs Resort…I mean, real love. But if you want to do some awesome snowmobiling, consider doing it with Thunderstruck Adventures. They have their own private mountain and have the best Steamboat snowmobile tours! You can take a tour (with their snowmobile or yours) or go out on your own. Check out the details: Trail Explorer Tour | Pro Adventure Tour | Rentals Only
STRAWBERRY PARK HOT SPRINGS
Relax in 104-degree mineral water in Colorado’s natural hot springs at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a beautiful retreat for guests to not only enjoy the calming effects of the hot water, but take in Colorado’s stunning forest and mentally reset.
The park area includes unique lodging options like a train caboose, covered wagon, rustic cabins, and traditional tent sites. The park also offers picnic spots, hiking trails, biking, and snowshoeing routes. The hot springs park strives to maintain a connection with Colorado’s natural beauty while making its facilities accessible to all.
YAMPA RIVER BOTANIC PARK
The Yampa River Botanic Park is one of several public gardens in Colorado, and this one is 100% directed and funded by a volunteer board of directors.
In 1992, the land was reimagined from a horse pasture to a six-acre plot with over fifty gardens and pools for visitors to enjoy. Although the botanic park sits at an impressive elevation of 6,800 feet, it supports many diverse types of plant life from varying altitudes.
Through carefully crafted micro-environments, the botanic gardens is home to plant life from the entirety of the Yampa River Basin (which ranges from 4,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level).
The gardens are free and open to the public between May and October. During this time, numerous musical events, theatrical performances, and weddings take place at these beautiful gardens.
HOWELSEN HILL SKI AREA
Skiing superstars unite! The Howelsen Hill Ski Area is the proud owner of North America’s largest and most complete natural ski complex.
In continual operation since 1915, the park is Colorado’s oldest ski area. It has been the training ground for nearly 100 Olympians with a combined total of 150 Olympic appearances and has produced 13 National Ski Hall of Famers and 22 Colorado Ski Hall of Fame.
Within its 13 miles of routes, there are additional cross-country ski trails and a fat biking trail. Plus, the area is only a brief five-minute drive from downtown Steamboat Springs.
OLD TOWN HOT SPRINGS
Old Town Hot Springs is a nonprofit organization and facility promoting health and wellness. Additionally, it is exceptionally historic as it has provided families and friends with an opportunity for relaxation for over 100 years. In addition to the year-round hot springs, the complex offers aquatic classes, massages, fitness classes, and other health and wellness services.
The hot springs pump about 220 gallons of water out of the ground per minute. This water is ideal for soaking at a delightful 102-103 degrees. In fact, Native Americans used to refer to this water as “medicine springs” due to its healing properties. In addition, many tribes would come to the water for religious or sacred purposes.
Today, guests enjoy the pools for modern-day wellness. The complex even offers two 230-foot water slides and a rolling log for the kids at heart and those who need to add laughter to their wellness routine!
STEAMBOAT BREW TRAIL
Take a break from the mountain trails, and hit up the brewery trails! The beloved Steamboat Brew Trail will take beer “hikers” from downtown Steamboat to the west side of town. Along the way, you will stop at three breweries and one distillery.
One of the favorite stops on the trip is seeing the Mountain Tap Brewery gondolas. Mountain Tap began seating guests in private heated gondolas during the Covid-19 pandemic, and guests loved it so much it has become a permanent structure.
At Mahogany Ridge Brewery, you can try one of their eight draft beers and fill up on delicious tapas. Storm Peak Brewery presents twenty diverse beers in their warehouse-style space, and you can pick up some authentic BBQ or pizza next door.
At your last stop, Steamboat Whiskey, you will sip on delicious whiskey from Steamboat Spring’s first and only distillery. Try out their Warrior Whiskey, Ski Town Vodka, Sleeping Giant Gin, or moonshine – if you dare!
You can get more info on the Steamboat Brew Trail and more about happenings in Steamboat Springs at their Visitor Center’s location at 125 Anglers Drive.
THE TREAD OF PIONEERS MUSEUM
A 1901 Queen Anne Victorian-style home holds the key to Steamboat Springs’ vibrant pioneer history. In addition to its turn-of-the-century furnishings, the Tread of Pioneers Museum features exhibits on the local Native Americans and their tribes, the history of skiing, mining, agriculture, pioneer settlements, the town’s development, and much more.
The museum also offers hands-on exhibits for kids, an exciting Kids’ Scavenger Hunt, and plenty of other seasonal events throughout the year. This museum is a great spot to familiarize yourself with the extensive history of Steamboat Springs.
STEAMBOAT ART MUSEUM
The First National Bank/Rehder Building, which currently houses the Steamboat Art Museum (SAM), has been around for over 115 years. The building has held everything from Ford garages and dentist offices to ice cream shops and furnishing studios. In 2010, the Steamboat Art Museum signed a 99-year lease for the building with the city. Since that time, SAM has presented over 45 art exhibits and welcomed 150,000 guests through their doors.
The museum’s mission is to present fine art to their community (and the world) that represents the culture and heritage of northwest Colorado. Previous exhibitions have included titles such as Imagining the West, The Art of the Quilt, Colorado Nature, and much more.
In addition to their rotating exhibits, SAM offers many educational workshops and events for locals and tourists alike.
BUFFALO PASS SNOWSHOEING
Buffalo Pass is a premier winter sports destination located just 20 minutes outside of Steamboat Springs. Its 10,180-foot summit offers breathtaking views of the Yampa Valley, the city, meadows, and granite boulders. It is also home to one of the best trails for snowshoeing in Colorado.
The trail begins within Buffalo Pass at Dry Lake Campground. It is a 1.5-mile trail with panoramic views of the Continental Divide. The trail meets with Spring Creek Trail, a longer 3.6-mile snowshoeing route. This is an ideal spot for introductory snowshoeing.
The campground itself is small and does not take reservations. However, it is surrounded by beautiful Aspen, Spruce, and Fir Trees and provides excellent access to hiking and snowshoeing trails.
RABBIT EARS PASS
Rabbit Ears Pass also offers amazing snowshoe trails during the winter months. The trails here range in length from 1.6 miles to 7 miles. They range in difficulty from Moderate to Expert.
There are two parking areas here, and the West Summit parking lot is for snowshoers. Use of this area is free.
This area is popular, and the parking area often fills up in early morning, especially on weekends and powder days — so make sure to get an early start! You won’t regret it though — the views here are spectacular.
HAYMAKER NORDIC CENTER
Another popular area for snowshoeing in Steamboat Springs is the Haymaker Nordic Center.
Enjoy the fresh air and amazing views of the valley using Nordic skis, snowshoes or fat bikes. You’ll find over 12 kilometers of trails here. Afterwards, stop by the Haymaker Patio Grill for lunch!
The Nordic Center is open 7 days a week and offers equipment rentals.
FISH CREEK FALLS
Enjoy picturesque Alpine water racing down the 280-ft Fish Creek Falls. A short quarter-mile gravel trail provides stunning views of this beautiful waterfall from the base. The hike is unique every time of year.
For a more strenuous experience, take the moderate path to Upper Fish Creek Falls and Long Lake, deep in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. You may see adventurous ice-climbers or snowshoers enjoying the trails in the winter. There is no off-season here!
For those with accessibility needs, a paved quarter-mile trail offers an overlook of the falls.
MEDICINE BOW-ROUTT NATIONAL FOREST
The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest covers 2.9 million acres of Colorado. There are seemingly endless opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, biking, and ATV riding. Elevation ranges from 5,500 feet to nearly 13,000 feet.
The forest touches many of North America’s most famous mountain ranges, including Gore Range, Flat Tops, Parks Range, Medicine Bow Mountains, Sierra Madre, and Laramie Range. In addition, two ski resorts, 162 recreational homes, and ten designated wilderness sites find their home in Bow-Routt.
The National Forest has been attracting photographers and nature buffs since its inception in 1902. Whatever you are looking for in nature – you will find here.
YAMPA RIVER CORE TRAIL
Those looking to stay fit on their vacation, or who simply want a lengthy walk, can enjoy the 7.5 miles long Yampa River Core Trail. The accessible paved trail goes through downtown Steamboat Springs and along the Yampa River.
There is plenty of sightseeing along the path, including the Yampa River Botanic Park, fishing access, river tubing start points, ski areas, and more. Guests can run, walk, or even bike this well-taken care of trail.
Saddleback Ranch has been a family-owned and operated working ranch since 1993. Visitors can enjoy cattle drives, dinner wagon rides, hunting, snowmobiling, and snow tubing at this family-focused ranch.
The current owners of the ranch, Luanna and Wayne, purchased the property from Luanna’s father. The property has been in the family since they settled on the land in 1928. After seeing the movie “City Slickers,” Luanna came up with the idea to offer horseback riding and cattle drives. Their business is on the up and up, and Saddleback Ranch is continually expanding and providing new opportunities for returning tourists.
It is a great place to try out ranch life with your kids.
Horseback riding experiences are available at all times of the year at Saddleback Ranch. In the winter, guests will take a 90-120 minute ride through the snowy ranch and finish with a delicious cup of hot cocoa and freshly made cookies to warm up. Summertime rides are available for either one or two hours.
For a bit more, guests can enjoy a dinner ride. Upon arrival, guests are gifted a cold drink before setting off on the saddle. After your ride, you’ll enjoy the sunset with a full-course meal and dessert.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS FAQ
Is Steamboat Springs worth a visit?
Absolutely, Steamboat Springs is worth a visit. This Colorado mountain town is full of year-round fun. From winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing to summer fun like tubing down the Yampa River, you’ll never run out of fun things to do in Steamboat Springs.
What is Steamboat Springs best known for?
Steamboat Springs is best known for its light, fluffy snow! The snow here is officially named champagne powder because of how amazing it is.
Can beginners ski at Steamboat Ski Resort?
Yes, there are slopes and ski trails especially for beginners at Steamboat Ski Resort. You’ll want an adventurous spirit, though! The trails, even the beginner-friendly ones, offer insanely spectacular views.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO COLORADO
- YOUR COLORADO VACATION
- FORT COLLINS: 15 Amazing Things To Do In Fort Collins, Colorado
- PUEBLO: 13 Fun Things To Do In Pueblo, Colorado
- COLORADO SPRINGS: 31 Delightful Things To Do In Colorado Springs
- THE BROADMOOR: Two Luxury Vacations In One: The Broadmoor Colorado Springs
WHERE TO STAY IN STEAMBOAT SPRINGS
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