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Steamboat Springs Travel Guide

By Nick K, Posted on 14 Mar, 2023 at 03:57 am

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Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is a town in Colorado with a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. Originally a summer resort destination, the town gradually transformed into a premier skiing destination in the 1960s with the opening of the Steamboat Ski Resort. Despite its success as a skiing destination, Steamboat Springs has not forgotten its roots as a summer resort and still offers visitors the chance to enjoy its natural hot springs and outdoor activities.

The town's unique architecture also reflects its rich history and vibrant culture.


Steamboat Springs, located in the Yampa Valley of Colorado, has a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. Originally, the town was a popular summer resort destination, attracting visitors from all over the country with its natural hot springs and abundant hunting and fishing opportunities. However, it wasn't until the 1960s that Steamboat Springs gained worldwide recognition as a premier skiing destination.

The transformation of Steamboat Springs CO from a summer resort to Ski Town, USA was gradual and took several decades. In the early 1900s, visitors came to Steamboat Springs to soak in the natural hot springs, which were believed to have healing properties. The town also offered excellent hunting and fishing opportunities, which attracted outdoor enthusiasts.

As the years went by, Steamboat Springs continued to develop its summer tourism industry. The town built several hotels and lodges, including the famous Steamboat Hotel, which opened in 1901. The Steamboat Hotel was a luxurious destination that offered guests a wide range of amenities, including hot springs baths, a bowling alley, and a billiards room.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Steamboat Springs began to attract winter visitors who were interested in skiing. The town's first ski area, Howelsen Hill, opened in 1915 and was primarily used for ski jumping. However, it wasn't until the 1960s that Steamboat Colorado really took off as a skiing destination.

In 1963, the Steamboat Ski Resort opened, and the town began to market itself as Ski Town, USA. The resort was an instant success, attracting skiers from all over the world with its famous Champagne Powder snow and world-class skiing terrain. Over the years, the resort has continued to expand, adding new lifts and runs and improving its amenities.

Today, Steamboat Springs is known as one of the top skiing destinations in the world. However, the town has not forgotten its roots as a summer resort. Visitors can still enjoy the natural hot springs and outdoor activities that made Steamboat Springs famous over a century ago. 

Visitors can also admire the unique architecture of many of the shops and restaurants in downtown Steamboat Colorado. From cozy cafes to trendy boutiques, each building has its own distinctive style and character that reflects the town's rich history and vibrant culture.



Exploring the Natural Wonders of Steamboat Springs

While Steamboat Springs may be best known for its skiing and hot springs, there are plenty of other natural attractions that draw visitors to this beautiful Colorado town. From hiking and biking trails to scenic drives and wildlife viewing opportunities, there's something for everyone in Steamboat Springs.

One of the most popular attractions is Fish Creek Falls, a stunning waterfall located just a few miles from downtown. Visitors can hike to the falls on a well-maintained trail that offers breathtaking views of the Yampa Valley. In the winter, Fish Creek Falls is also a popular spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Another must-see destination is the Yampa River Botanic Park, which features over 50 gardens showcasing plants native to Colorado and other western states. Visitors can stroll through the park's winding paths, admire the colorful flowers and plants, and even attend educational programs and events.

For those who love wildlife, Steamboat Springs offers ample opportunities for viewing elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and other animals in their natural habitat. The nearby Routt National Forest is home to several designated wilderness areas where visitors can experience unspoiled nature up close.

And if you're looking for a scenic drive, don't miss the opportunity to take a trip along Rabbit Ears Pass or Gore Pass. These mountain passes offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and are especially beautiful in the fall when the leaves change colors.


Must-See Attractions

Steamboat Springs, Colorado is a picturesque mountain town that offers a wide range of activities and attractions year-round. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast or a history buff, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this charming town.

Here are 10 must-see attractions in Steamboat Springs:

1. Fish Creek Falls

Located just outside of Steamboat, Fish Creek Falls is a stunning waterfall that offers hiking and snowshoeing opportunities year-round. The falls are especially beautiful in the winter when they freeze over and create a magical winter wonderland.

2. The Tread of Pioneers Museum

Discover the rich history of Steamboat Springs and Northwest Colorado through exhibits and events at The Tread of Pioneers Museum. The museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the town's past, from its early Native American inhabitants to the modern-day ski resort.

3. Steamboat Powdercats

Explore the backcountry of the Routt National Forest with a guided snowcat skiing and snowboarding adventure with Steamboat Powdercats. This thrilling experience offers breathtaking views and an unforgettable adventure.

4. Wild West Balloon Adventures

Take in the breathtaking views of the Yampa Valley from a hot air balloon with Wild West Balloon Adventures. Complete with champagne and breakfast, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you won't want to miss.

5. Howelsen Hill Ski Area

One of the oldest ski areas in Colorado, Howelsen Hill Ski Area offers ski and snowboard lessons, as well as tubing and ice skating. This family-friendly attraction is perfect for beginners and experts alike.

Hotels near Howelsen Hill Ski Area:


6. Steamboat Ski Resort

A world-class ski resort with over 3,000 skiable acres and 18 lifts, Steamboat Ski Resort is known for its Champagne Powder® snow. With a wide range of terrain and activities, this resort is a must-visit for any ski enthusiast.

Hotels near Steamboat Ski Resort:


7. Steamboat Art Museum

Explore a collection of fine art and cultural exhibits in the heart of downtown Steamboat at the Steamboat Art Museum. This museum showcases the work of local and regional artists and is a great way to experience the town's vibrant arts scene.

8. Emerald Mountain

A popular hiking and mountain biking destination, Emerald Mountain offers over 4,000 acres of public land to explore. With stunning views and a variety of trails, this mountain is a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast.

9. Heart Spring

Located in the middle of a meadow, Heart Spring is a natural hot spring that offers a unique and relaxing outdoor soaking experience. This hidden gem is a great way to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of Steamboat Springs.

10. Grizzle-T Dog & Sled Works

Experience the thrill of dog sledding through the scenic mountains of Steamboat with a team of friendly huskies at Grizzle-T Dog & Sled Works. This unforgettable adventure is a great way to explore the town's natural beauty and get up close and personal with some amazing animals.



From Rodeos to Festivals: Celebrating Steamboat Springs' Western Roots

Steamboat Springs has a deep and rich history rooted in the American West. The town's early settlers were mostly homesteaders and ranchers who came to the area in search of land and opportunity. Today, Steamboat Springs celebrates its western heritage through a variety of events and festivals that showcase the town's unique culture.

One of the most popular events is the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, which takes place every summer. Visitors can watch cowboys and cowgirls compete in bull riding, barrel racing, roping, and other rodeo events. The rodeo also features live music, food vendors, and other family-friendly activities.

Another popular event is the Winter Carnival, which has been a Steamboat Springs tradition for over 100 years. This festival celebrates all things winter with events like ski jumping competitions, snow sculpture contests, and a parade down Main Street.

In addition to these annual events, Steamboat Springs also hosts several festivals throughout the year that celebrate the town's western roots. The Cowboy Downhill is a ski race where cowboys from around the country compete in full western attire. The Yampa River Festival celebrates Steamboat Springs' outdoor recreation culture with events like kayaking races and fly fishing clinics.

Visitors can also explore Steamboat Springs' western heritage at local museums like the Tread of Pioneers Museum or by taking a horseback ride through the surrounding mountains.


Relaxation and Rejuvenation:

The Top Spas and Wellness Centers in Steamboat Springs

After a long day of skiing or exploring the natural wonders of Steamboat Springs, there's nothing better than relaxing and rejuvenating at one of the town's top spas or wellness centers. From mineral baths to massage therapy, these facilities offer a wide range of services to help visitors unwind and recharge.

One of the most popular spas in Steamboat Springs is Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Located just outside of town, this natural hot springs facility offers several pools with varying temperatures, as well as massages and other spa treatments. Visitors can soak in the soothing waters surrounded by stunning mountain views.

Another must-visit destination is Rocky Mountain Day Spa, which offers a full range of spa services including facials, body treatments, and massage therapy. This elegant spa is located in downtown Steamboat Springs and features a tranquil atmosphere that will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.

For those looking for a more holistic approach to wellness, Sol Wellness Center offers yoga classes, acupuncture, herbal medicine consultations, and other alternative therapies. This center focuses on promoting overall health and wellbeing through natural methods.

Other notable spas and wellness centers in Steamboat Springs include Life Essentials Day Spa, which specializes in organic skincare treatments; The Spa at Catamount Ranch & Club, which offers luxurious spa experiences with stunning mountain views; and Bella Vita Mountain Day Spa & Yoga Studio, which combines yoga with massage therapy for a truly unique experience.


Beyond Skiing and Snowboarding:

Winter Activities for Non-Skiers in Steamboat Springs

While Steamboat Springs is known worldwide as a skiing destination, there are plenty of winter activities for visitors who prefer to stay off the slopes. Here are some of the top winter activities in Steamboat Springs for non-skiers:

1. Snowshoeing

Explore the stunning winter landscapes of Steamboat Springs on a snowshoeing adventure. Several local companies offer guided snowshoe tours that take you through pristine forests and over snowy hillsides.

2. Ice Skating

The Howelsen Ice Arena offers public skating sessions throughout the winter season, as well as ice hockey games and figure skating competitions. Visitors can rent skates and enjoy a fun day on the ice.

3. Snowmobiling

For an adrenaline-filled adventure, try snowmobiling through the backcountry of Steamboat Springs. Local outfitters offer guided tours that take you through snowy forests and over frozen lakes.

4. Hot Air Balloon Rides

Take in the stunning beauty of Steamboat Springs from above with a hot air balloon ride. Several local companies offer sunrise and sunset rides that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

5. Dog Sledding

Experience the thrill of dog sledding through the scenic mountains of Steamboat with a team of friendly huskies at Grizzle-T Dog & Sled Works or other local outfitters.

6. Cross-Country Skiing

Explore the rolling hills surrounding Steamboat Springs on cross-country skis. Several local trails offer groomed tracks for skiers of all levels.

7. Winter Fly Fishing

For those who enjoy fishing, winter fly fishing is a unique experience that takes you to some of the most beautiful spots along rivers like Yampa River or Elk River.

Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, there are plenty of winter activities in Steamboat Springs beyond skiing and snowboarding that will make your trip unforgettable!

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About Author

Nick K

Nick K, a travel blogger based in Europe, has been a solo traveler for over 15 years. He always has had his head over the skies and his backpack all over the world. He has traveled to over 30 countries and has penned down his experience with the motto of "on the next destination." He has written over 300+ blog posts written with a combo of videos and photography.