While the alpine coaster is a new, nontraditional source of outdoor fun in town, this gem of Colorado’s northwest has built its reputation on unchanged recreation and scenery. Steamboat is the perfect four-season getaway.
But in Ski Town USA, winter rules.
Here’s a quick guide for your planning purposes:
– Yes, North America’s longest alpine coaster track opened this season and can be reached from Steamboat Resort‘s base ($25 to ride). But no, you came for the ski terrain, the size and variety of which rivals any resort in the world.
Spanning six peaks, half the terrain is considered advanced. The tree-skiing is renowned, and the powder stashes are plenty after a storm. Whether bumps or long cruises are your thing, Steamboat has it all. Beginners prefer the corduroy on lower Mount Werner or the wide groomers in “Wally World.” The gondola leads to the famous Heavenly Daze run.
On select nights, skiers and riders pay $39 to ride the Christie Peak Express lift, with hourslong access to five trails under the lights. Check steamboat.com for the schedule.
– Maybe you’d prefer turns in the backcountry. Rabbit Ears Pass is a good bet for fresh lines, with easy access to higher parts off U.S. 40. Powderhounds command the west side of the pass.
But you don’t have to be an expert skier or rider to enjoy the surrounding paradise. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers take the pass east of town to parking lots at the head of groomed tracks. From the West Summit lot, trails boast views of the Yampa Valley and Flat Tops Wilderness. The next lot is for the beloved Bruce’s Trail. Two lots on is Walton Creek, and from here, Hogan Park is a must-explore.
– The east side of Rabbit Ears is for snowmobiling. Steamboat outfitters capitalize on the snowy fields off the pass and beyond, allowing customers the classic, wind-in-your-face experience. Book a trip with Steamboat Snowmobile Tours (steamboatsnowmobile.com).
– Fat bikes are on the rise in places where sublime singletrack gets covered with snow. The fluff is no match for the muscled wheels, and Steamboat has certainly caught on.
In winter, fat bikes roam Emerald Mountain, a riders’ hot spot in the summer. Lake Catamount is another popular, scenic site for the bulky rides. Take one for a spin by renting from several outfitters in town.
– Time in Steamboat is not complete without a soak at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. The steamy pools are nestled in the woods that collect the area’s famous champagne powder, making perhaps the most picture-perfect scene of Colorado’s geothermal waters.
Lodging is in the form of rustic cabins, a covered wagon and a train caboose. Visit strawberryhotsprings.com for more information.
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