Steamboat

Colorado, USA

Steamboat is located in northwestern Colorado about a 4-hour drive from Denver. Don’t let the more isolated location turn you off – it works in its favor since it creates a town with a unique character, away from the weekend hoards that flock to resorts closer to Denver. And with endless intermediate terrain and tons of extra activities, Steamboat makes a great choice, especially for families.

Scout Loves

  • Steamboat’s famous champagne powder and perfectly gladed tree runs.
  • Genuine history of ranching that continues – don’t be surprised to see a cowboy riding a horse down the main street.
  • Strawberry Park Hot Springs a magical experience especially on a starry night. Clothing is optional after dark when the pools are off-limits to anyone under 18. Also, since they don’t have lights, be careful walking around in the dark.
  • The chance to learn a new word: skijoring. Where horses pull skiers. It happens down the main street during winter carnival in February.
  • The 2013-14 season saw the introduction of night skiing.

Scout Tips

  • If you see a guy skiing in a 10 gallon hat it’s probably Olympian Billy Kid – the resort’s official “mascot”. You can join him on guided tours of the mountain.
  • Most of the accommodation is up in the mountain village. Which is a shame considering it’s not that attractive, and the historic downtown area (only a 5-minute drive away) is seriously cute, and where all the night action is.
  • Enjoy apres with the locals at T Bar – a ski-in ski-out shed just below Christy III lift.
  • If you want to ski in Colorado and have problems coping with altitude, Steamboat can be good as the base area has a lower elevation than most.
  • While there is some expert terrain, hard-core skiers may find challenging runs limited.

Scout Review

Steamboat Ski Resort is comprised of six peaks and is one of the largest ski resorts in Colorado. From rolling groomers to steep chutes, the resort has something for everyone. What makes this resort so special is its roots deep in Western Heritage, making it feel relaxed and authentic. The locals are friendly and even the mountain seems kind to most skiers. There are fewer crowds thanks to its relatively isolated location and it’s not full of hard-core, ego-skiers despite the fact there’s still some challenging terrain at the top of the mountain.

Plenty of other activities off the snow can be seriously fun – kids can come as close as possible to flying on the mini ski jumps.

What all this means is that Steamboat makes an excellent choice for families.

It’s not surprising then that the resort is dominated by big condo complexes. The base area is not the most charming and the buildings in and around it don’t help – most were built in the ’80s and ’90s. But if you’ve got a large family you’ll find some good deals on condos, especially those that aren’t in a ski-in ski-out location.

Downtown Steamboat is quite the opposite – the historic buildings lining the main street are charming and, against the backdrop of the mountain resort, it is incredibly picturesque. There are some fantastic restaurants in town and later on this is where all the nightlife kicks off.

Steamboat Accommodation

While you are spoilt for choice in Steamboat, almost all the accommodation is in the mountain village. There are several ski-in ski-out condo complexes and hotels and hundreds scattered further beyond. There are a few options in the downtown area. Accommodation is not cheap, but it’s a lot cheaper than some of the other Colorado resorts.

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Resort Activities

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There are plenty of activities on and off the mountain to keep everyone entertained and happy. Ski jumping, fishing, sleigh-ride dinners, snowmobile tours, hot-air balloon rides, hot springs, powder cat skiing and ice skating – the list goes on and on. If you want to be true to the Western heritage you can even slap on some chaps and take a horse ride through a winter wonderland.

Getting There and Around

Despite its location, Steamboat is easy to get to. The Yampa Valley Airport is about 22 miles (35km) west of Steamboat and several airlines have non-stop flights from eight major cities. Alternatively, there are plenty of connecting flights via Denver.

There are several shuttle services available and prices start around $35 one way.

You can drive to Steamboat from Denver – it’s a 3 hour 30 min though, as always, allow more time in winter. A good idea is to go the longer way via Fort Collins (just over 4 hours) thus avoiding the notoriously slow i70. If you decide on this option it’s a good idea to check that the Rabbit Ears Pass is open first.

Steamboat is easy to get around. For those without their own transportation, the City of Steamboat Springs offers free transport between the ski area and downtown. Most hotels in the village area also have shuttles for dropping you off at the resort base or downtown.

When To Go

Steamboat ski resort is open from late November until mid-April. The most reliable conditions are generally during February. The Winter Carnival is a fun time to visit, though accommodation prices can be higher and more booked out. In 2013/14 the carnival will take place from February 5-9.

Other busy holiday periods are:

  • Christmas and New Year.
  • Martin Luther King long weekend, January 17-20 (2014).
  • President’s Day long weekend, February 14-17 (2014).

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 6900ft / 2103m Gondolas 1 Beginner 14%  
Summit Elevation 10,568ft / 3224m Express Six Seater 1 Intermediates 42%  
Vertical Drop 3668ft / 1118m Express Quads 5 Advanced 44%  
Skiable Area 2965ac / 1200ha Quad Chair 1      
Annual Snowfall 349in / 8.9m Triple Chairs 6      
Longest Run 3.0 miles / 4.80km Double Chairs 2      
Snowmaking 375ac / 152 ha Surface Lifts 2      
Operating Hours 8.30am –4.00pm Lift Capacity per hour 41,465 people      
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