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Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests picture in Steamboat Springs
Kristine Smith / Getty Images

Details

  • Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.8
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

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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.

Although Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests is free to visit 24 hours a day, access fees do apply for some of its facilities. Expect to pay $5 to park at most trails, picnic areas and boat launches. To hunt or fish, travelers must purchase a license on the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website. Campsites, meanwhile, are available on a first-come, first-served basis or can be reserved on Recreation.gov's Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests page. Daily fees range from $5 to $12 per night, depending on the campground. Learn more about Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests by visiting the U.S. Forest Service's website.

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#1 Yampa River Core Trail 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 ... Read more » Hero Images / Getty Images

#2 Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests 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 ... Read more » Kristine Smith / Getty Images

#3 Fish Creek Falls 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 ... Read more » Adventure_Photo / Getty Images

#4 Yampa River Botanic Park 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 ... Read more » Steamboatchamber.com

#5 Steamboat Ski Resort 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 ... Read more » Courtesy of Steamboat.com

#6 Steamboat Gondola 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 ... Read more » Steamboatchamber.com

#7 The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs 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 ... Read more » mustafagull / Getty Images

#8 Tread of Pioneers Museum 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 ... Read more » Courtesy Tread of Pioneers

#9 Strawberry Park Hot Springs 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 ... Read more » Courtesy of Steamboat.com

#10 Howelsen Ice Arena 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 ... Read more » Steamboatchamber.com

Yampa River Core Trail picture in Steamboat Springs
Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests picture in Steamboat Springs
Fish Creek Falls picture in Steamboat Springs
Yampa River Botanic Park picture in Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Ski Resort picture in Steamboat Springs
Gondola picture in Steamboat Springs
The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs picture in Steamboat Springs
Tread of Pioneers Museum picture in Steamboat Springs
Strawberry Park Hot Springs picture in Steamboat Springs
Howelsen Ice Arena picture in Steamboat Springs
Yampa River Core Trail picture in Steamboat Springs
Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests picture in Steamboat Springs
Fish Creek Falls picture in Steamboat Springs
Yampa River Botanic Park picture in Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Ski Resort picture in Steamboat Springs
Gondola picture in Steamboat Springs
The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs picture in Steamboat Springs
Tread of Pioneers Museum picture in Steamboat Springs
Strawberry Park Hot Springs picture in Steamboat Springs
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The Yampa River Core Trail travels alongside its namesake river and goes through downtown Steamboat Springs, making it easy to check out the area's shops and galleries. Hero Images / Getty Images

Hikers love exploring Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Rabbit Ears Pass, which has buttes that resemble rabbit ears. Kristine Smith / Getty Images

In the summer, the four trails at Fish Creek Falls are popular with hikers of all skill levels. Wintertime, meanwhile, is ideal for ice climbers in search of a challenging trek.  Adventure_Photo / Getty Images

Free to the public, the Yampa River Botanic Park is accessible from the Yampa River Core Trail and often hosts concerts and other special events during the summer months. Steamboatchamber.com

Steamboat Ski Resort is open year-round but is primarily known for its excellent skiing. Courtesy of Steamboat.com

Whether you're looking for some of the city's best views or just want to hit the slopes at Steamboat Ski Resort, the Steamboat Gondola is worth riding. Steamboatchamber.com

If slope conditions or the weather are poor, practice your tennis swing at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. mustafagull / Getty Images

Housed in an old Victorian house in downtown Steamboat Springs, the Tread of Pioneers Museum offers a thorough overview of the area's history. Courtesy Tread of Pioneers

Steamboat Springs is known for its hot springs, and some of its most popular can be found at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Courtesy of Steamboat.com

Kids love Howelsen Ice Arena's ice bumper cars. Steamboatchamber.com

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