The past six months have been difficult to say the least and being cooped up indoors was not my idea of a fun summer. Working in the sports broadcasting field, I had all of my events over the Spring and Summer canceled and had put all hope in normalcy come Fall.
That did not happen as I saw all of my Fall work postponed or canceled, so I threw on a mask, packed a bag and headed to one of my favorite places to re-set — Steamboat Springs, CO.
My family has been spending summers in Steamboat since I can remember, I loved it as a kid and I think it’s even better as an adult. Here’s my go-to guide to get the most out of the beautiful outdoors in Steamboat (which is very COVID friendly at that).
WHERE TO STAY
I’ve stayed with family when traveling, however there are SO many vacation rentals available. From townhomes, condominiums, houses or hotels you will find what works for your group (you can even rent a ranch!). Check out the town’s chamber page for dates/options.
It’s called Ski Town USA, but in the summer it’s definitely a bike town. I always rent from Ski Haus, two bikes for three hours was $26 this past trip. Go earlier in the day to guarantee availability, or you can try another rental shop (Christy Sports Central Park, Pedego Steamboat, Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare or Boomerang Sports Exchange).
My favorite easy ride is the Yampa River Core Trail — it’s a 7.5 mile paved trail that follows the Yampa River downtown. You’ll see tons of people floating the river (which is another fun daytime activity), picnicking or walking. If you pay attention you’ll catch the Rodeo Grounds, Howelsen Ski Area, the Yampa River Botanic Park and skate/bike park. I always like to take a pit stop at Mountain Tap Brewery for a Chasing Sunset or their latest IPA. They have a ton of outdoor seating and food too!
If you’re looking for something more challenging, check out one of the trails at the Steamboat Bike Park — it’s all mountain biking. Unfortunately it was closed for summer 2020, but there are a lot of other mountain biking trails to tackle if you go this year.
You can basically walk out your front door and find a trail, most of the biking trails are available for hiking as well, and you can hike the ski runs (or take the gondola up and hike down for a less strenuous workout).
We always go by Fish Creek Falls when we’re in town, the main waterfall is accessible from a paved walkway, it’s a breathtaking view and a great photo op. This summer we hiked up to the second waterfall from the base of the main one. It’s 2.5 miles one-way and 9,000 feet in elevation — I consider myself in shape and this one wasn’t easy but oh so worth it. Take your time and enjoy the scenery, there are some beautiful lookouts to stop at along the way.
FUN FOR ALL AGES
I’m a kid at heart, so grabbing a tube and floating down the Yampa or playing in the river is great by me. If you want to tap into your inner child some more, take a ride down the Howelsen Alpine Slide or “The Howler”. You’ll take a chairlift to the top of Howelsen Hill, which overlooks Downtown Steamboat, and at the top you get a sled to ride down the slide. It’s $15 per ride, but you’ll get a deal the more rides you book. It’s a Steamboat staple, and there’s usually shaved ice for sale at the bottom 🙂
Each summer, except for 2020 because of COVID, the rodeo comes to Steamboat. The show is every Friday and Saturday and is jam packed with bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling and the kids can even get in the ring for the calf scramble (it is hilarious). There’s BBQ and entertainment starting at 6pm and the show starts at 7:30pm. Beer, wine and other bevs are also available. Admission is $10 per child 7-15 and $20 for adults, children 6 and under are free!
How about BBQ and bowling? Head to SnowBowl for ridiculously amazing BBQ and a fun day/night of bowling. The restaurant is doing all outdoor seating and has the lanes separated inside for COVID compliant social distancing. There are TVs everywhere inside if you want to catch a game while bowling, as well as a full service bar.
Horseback riding is another fun activity for the family and available at any level.
There are hot springs in town at Old Town Hot Springs, however I recommend Strawberry Park, about 15 minutes from downtown. Strawberry Park is up in the mountains, so the scenery around the pools is beautiful. There are several pools that have been carved into the rock and are filled by a natural hot spring (we’re talking naturally 104 degrees F!). It’s $20 per person to go (cash or check only), and just an FYI at night it’s clothing optional.
Steamboat has three public golf courses — Haymaker, Rollingstone Ranch Golf Course and the 9-hole Steamboat Golf Course that runs along the Yampa River. I hadn’t golfed since middle school until I went to Steamboat this summer and I’m hooked! Doesn’t hurt that the views are amazing, the air is so thin the golf ball carries and there aren’t many trees to hit around!
We golfed at the Catamount Ranch and Club, thanks to some family members, but wherever you go — it will be beautiful.
There’s way more to do than just floating down the Yampa, check out Pearl Lake State Park or Steamboat Lake State Park. Each is $7 to access for the day, and both have a ton of water sports, hiking, horseback riding, paddle boarding, jet skiing, fishing and then some available. I went paddle boarding (which was great until it got windy and I kept spinning around haha) and wake surfing this summer. The water can be chilly but go during a sunny afternoon and you won’t notice it at all!
As mentioned, SnowBowl has great BBQ — huge portions for a really good price.
If you’re looking for a finer-dinning experience I recommend Aurum. I think we ordered almost every appetizer and they were all amazing (the nachos and Brussel sprouts were so yum!). For dinner I went for the filet and it was cooked to perfection, with a side of veggies and mash. The restaurant itself is set on the river so the ambiance is great.
My dad swears by the burgers at Back Door Grill and I have to agree. You can get as crazy as peanut butter, fried egg and hash browns on the Dirty Harry or go classic cheeseburger.
Craving sushi? Tahk Omakase has it all, and the prices show it, it’s not your typical BOGO but you’ll be satisfied with the results.
For lunch and some good Mexican food, I love the rooftop patio at Salt & Lime. You can mix and match tacos or go for a classic quesadilla.
For dessert stop by Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory, as a kid I always got the rock candy pops or candy pebbles. I guess it was something about being in the mountains that made the idea of eating rocks cool?
Drop me a comment if you have any questions, or if you have your own Steamboat favorites! Whether it’s Colorado or a walk in your neighborhood, getting outside really helps ease the mind and of course keep wearing those masks 😷