Best Things To Do in Steamboat Springs
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Steamboat Springs in both the summer and winter seasons. During the warm weather, travelers can hike or bike the Yampa River Core Trail or spend an afternoon fishing, kayaking or tubing. Meanwhile, the winter season in Steamboat Springs attracts downhill skiers and snowboarders, as well as ice climbers. If you're not schussing the slopes at Steamboat Ski Resort, you can take a sleigh ride, go snowmobiling and dogsledding, or head indoors to The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs to work on your swing. No matter which activity you choose, follow it up with a relaxing soak at Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Updated April 3, 2018
- #1View all Photos#1 in Steamboat SpringsHiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDHiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The 7.5-mile Yampa River Core Trail, which connects downtown Steamboat Springs to Bear River Park, is a paved multiuse trail for hikers and bikers. You'll find several playgrounds along the path, as well as scenic overlooks and picnic spots. It also offers prime access to the Yampa River Botanic Park and the Yampa River, where you can fish or float in an inner tube.
Former visitors loved this trail's picturesque scenery, adding that you'll enjoy views of nearby ski runs, Howelsen Hill and multiple hot springs. Most found it ideal for a family bike ride or a relaxing walk, and some recommended stopping in the city center for a snack or lunch.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Steamboat SpringsHiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDHiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, often called the "Land of Many Uses," encompasses more than 2 million acres in northwestern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, but the most visited areas are about 3 miles east of Steamboat Springs. The dirt road that travels through the forest and connects the city with Walden, Colorado, which is known as Buffalo Pass (or Buffs Pass), offers basic campsites, as well as snowmobiling, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing trails. The popular hiking paths to Fish Creek Falls also go through the forest, and Rabbit Ears Pass – named for the ear-like buttes visible from the pass – offers bike, hiking and four-wheel drive trails.
Overall, past visitors were impressed with the forest's well-maintained roads, especially in the winter, and loved their scenery and hiking trails. For those who plan on snowmobiling, travelers recommend checking out the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass, while the west side is ideal for skiing and snowshoeing. To avoid getting lost while exploring this massive protected area, pick up trail maps at the U.S. Forest Service's visitors center. It can be found approximately 3 miles south of downtown Steamboat Springs and less than 2 miles southwest of Steamboat Ski Resort.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Steamboat SpringsHiking, Recreation, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDHiking, Recreation, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The 280-foot Fish Creek Falls is a prime spot for hiking. Four trails are available, including a short walk to the lower falls from downtown Steamboat Springs and a more challenging trail for experienced hikers that leads to Long Lake. The two shorter paths – which are great for families – offer a stunning view of the legendary falls. Spring (when the surrounding mountains' snow melts) is the best time to check out the falls, while winter is ideal for watching ice climbers in action.
Recent hikers loved the view and noted that there are two overlook spots perfect for taking photos. However, some visitors commented that even the easiest trails can be daunting on the descent and recommended bringing water and wearing comfortable shoes. Several suggested families take the short, easy trail to the picnic area, adding that the third trail to the upper falls is best suited for experienced hikers. What's more, many were pleased to find restroom facilities in the parking area near the entrance and said the $5 per vehicle fee is reasonable.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Steamboat SpringsRecreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRecreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
What was once a horse pasture is now a 6-acre botanic garden filled with native plants, ponds, berms and more than 50 gardens, including a kids garden that features a playhouse and an amphitheater for special programs. During the summer, you can also enjoy free afternoon concerts (on Thursdays) and complimentary yoga classes (on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays).
Recent visitors loved strolling in the serene gardens, calling the attraction a hidden gem filled with well-maintained themed gardens. Many also applauded the free admission, but some suggested wearing insect repellent to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes while exploring the property.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Steamboat SpringsRecreation, SkiingTYPEMore than Full DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, SkiingTYPEMore than Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Steamboat Ski Resort is primarily known as one of America's top family ski resorts. The resort features smooth, dry snow called "Champagne Powder" that's spread across 165 trails and nearly 3,000 skiable acres. Winter sports enthusiasts will also find four terrain parks, including Mavericks, the resort's largest terrain park and a popular spot for snowboarders.
During the summer season, the Steamboat Bike Park welcomes mountain bikers. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding and fishing. Available kid-friendly amenities include the supervised Kids' Adventure Club, the theme park-style Coca-Cola Adventure Zone and a scenic gondola.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Steamboat SpringsRecreation, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Situated at the base of Steamboat Ski Resort, the Steamboat Gondola is one of the area's most popular activities. During ski season, lines can be long for skiers waiting for a ride in the eight-passenger gondola to the top of Mount Werner. In the summer, cyclists use the gondola to transport their bikes to upper bike trails. However, many visitors simply enjoy the scenic ride and panoramic views. Travelers can also grab a bite to eat at the mountaintop restaurant, the Oasis Sundeck, or take a short hike on the Vista Nature Trail, an activity that's covered by gondola admissions.
Previous skiers complimented the helpful crew on the gondola, adding that they are quick to assist in loading and unloading. Others, though, reported long lines in the mornings and on holidays. And despite its pricey menu items, many recommended dining at the Oasis Sundeck.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Steamboat SpringsRecreation, SportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRecreation, SportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
If the slopes are crowded or the weather is lousy, athletes head to The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs to work on their indoor game. This tennis facility sits at the base of Mount Werner and Steamboat Ski Resort and offers 14 indoor and outdoor tennis courts, plus eight pickleball courts. The center is nationally known for its Rare Air tennis camp for juniors, but standard court rentals and lessons for adults and kids are available as well.
Former travelers – even those who came to Steamboat Springs to ski – agreed that The Tennis Center is a top-notch facility, and many praised the professional instructor for both his drill classes and private lessons. Skiers loved having an indoor facility to play a few games when the ski conditions weren't optimal, and families praised the facility for its excellent condition and friendly staff.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Steamboat SpringsMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Housed in a Victorian home with 20th-century furnishings, this museum features exhibits detailing the history of the region's early pioneers and Native Americans, as well as an overview about the city's skiing, agriculture and mining roots. Hands-on exhibits and a kids scavenger hunt make it a popular stop for families.
According to previous visitors, this museum packs a ton of history into a small space. Families were especially impressed with the property's scavenger hunt and mystery geocache hidden on the grounds. For even more history, travelers recommend joining the free behind-the-scenes tour, which is offered at noon and 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, at noon on Thursdays and at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Steamboat SpringsNatural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Steamboat Springs was named for its relaxing hot springs, and some of the city's best can be found at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Located less than 7 miles north of the city center, Strawberry Park features 104-degree mineral pools, as well as picnic spaces, a heated changing cabin and private massage areas. Visitors can also stay overnight at the on-site campground or in a rustic cabin, covered wagon or luxurious train caboose.
Past travelers called Strawberry Park "amazing," ranking its hot springs as some of the best in the country. But if you decide to stay the night, many recommend bringing your own camping essentials, as most of the accommodations are basic (think: no electricity or running water) and only provide a roof and a bed. Others added that driving to the property can be a bit of a challenge when the steep, narrow roads are covered in ice, so consider renting a four-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires if you're visiting during the winter months.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Steamboat SpringsRecreation, SportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRecreation, SportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Olympic-size Howelsen Ice Arena is a great place to cool off in the summer months and enjoy year-round activities like ice bumper cars, ice skating and ice hockey. The facility is also home to various adult and youth programs, plus summer hockey camps (for a fee).
Past visitors with little ones raved about the arena's bumper cars and ice skating. Many also appreciated having access to equipment like helmets and training aids. Additional highlights include the friendly staff, clean facilities and reasonable rates.
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