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Why Go to Steamboat Springs

Named for its famous hot springs, Steamboat Springs is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure junkies. This Colorado city is surrounded by working ranches, but its plethora of outdoor pursuits are what entice visitors. Fishing and camping are popular things to do in the summer, while the winter months are ideal for snowshoeing and snowmobiling. But the city's most well-known activity is skiing. Featuring roughly 3,000 skiable acres, and more affordable rates than other ski destinations like Aspen and Vail, Steamboat Springs (nicknamed Ski Town, U.S.A.) is a prime spot for shredding powder. 

No matter what time of year you visit, start with a ride on the Steamboat Gondola for panoramic views. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike to Fish Creek Falls, hit the slopes at Steamboat Ski Resort or bike the Yampa River Core Trail, while those in search of some rest and relaxation can unwind in Strawberry Park Hot Springs' mineral pools. If you prefer more urban pursuits, downtown Steamboat Springs has more than 100 bars and restaurants, as well as art galleries and the Tread of Pioneers Museum. And if you encounter inclement weather during your stay, check out The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and the Howelsen Ice Arena for tennis, ice skating and more.

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Steamboat Springs Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best times to visit Steamboat Springs are between June and August and from December to March. Hikers and bicyclists will love exploring the area's trails in the summer, while skiers will find prime mountain conditions in the winter. But remember, tourists flock to Steamboat Springs between December and March, so hotel rates will generally be higher during these months, especially around the holidays. You'll want to secure your airfare and accommodations well in advance to ensure availability. 

If you're sticking to a tight budget, consider arriving in late March or early April before the end of the ski season. You may also find a few hotel deals in January after holiday travelers have left. April and May – the city's shoulder months (or mud season) – are typically too wet for hiking, but hotel prices are significantly cheaper and attractions are not overrun with tourists. September, October and November also offer more elbow room, plus picturesque fall foliage. Room rates will increase, though, as the winter season nears.

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What You Need to Know

  • Having the right set of wheels is a must You'll need a four-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires or one with tire chains to access Strawberry Park Hot Springs and other mountain destinations in the winter.
  • Some activities may require permits If you plan on hunting or fishing in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, make sure you buy a license ahead of time on the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website.
  • Restaurant availability may be limited in April and May Some eateries close during the mud season, so call ahead to confirm a dining venue is open. 

How to Save Money in Steamboat Springs

  • Ride for free The city's complimentary bus system is a great way to get to and from central locales like the Yampa River Core Trail and the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
  • Avoid peak ski dates Crowds disperse and rates drop after the holidays and in late March and early April before ski season ends.
  • Buy lift tickets online Take advantage of online booking discounts for lift tickets. You'll find reduced rates offered by Steamboat Ski Resort, as well as on third-party websites like Liftopia.com and GetSkiTickets.com.

What to Eat

It's true that Steamboat Springs celebrates its Western heritage, but don't expect chuck wagon chow in this vibrant city. With more than 100 restaurants, you'll find everything from hole-in-the-wall joints to contemporary eateries that offer dishes made with local fish, game and produce. 

Grab a breakfast burrito or a local version of eggs benedict at the Creekside Café, a casual spot that's particularly popular on warm days when its patio is open. Other popular locales include Carl's Tavern, known for its comfort food, and the seasonal T Bar, a former ski patrol trailer that's been converted into a slope-side hangout. If you prefer lunch with a panoramic view, take the gondola to the Oasis Sundeck for stunning mountain vistas and hearty American fare. And for those who want to try a regional brew or local whiskey, there's The BARley

For more sophisticated fare, head to Laundry Kitchen & Cocktails for dinner. Housed in a historic Soda Creek building that was once home to the Steamboat Laundry, this award-winning gastropub blends Western decor with contemporary small plates like charred octopus with pistachio pesto and pork cheeks with kimchi. Oenophiles, meanwhile, will enjoy Aurum, where wine that is made on-site is served alongside upscale American cuisine.

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Getting Around Steamboat Springs

The best ways to get around Steamboat Springs are on foot and by using the free bus system, but if you want to explore the surrounding area, you will need a car. Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN) is 24 miles west of the city, while Denver International Airport (DEN) is about 178 miles southeast. Both airports offer rental cars. A variety of private shuttle services are available as well.

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