Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests

#2 in Best Things To Do in Steamboat Springs
Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests picture
Kristine Smith/Getty Images

Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.8

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

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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Yampa River Core Trail1 of 9
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Type
Time to Spend
#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 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. 

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