Regardless of season, visitors can enjoy a stimulating walking tour of Steamboat’s outdoor art all within a comfortable walking distance of downtown. According to the Steamboat Springs Arts Council there are more than 80 pieces of outdoor art in Steamboat. Additional outdoor art installations are provided for by the Downtown Public Art Fund curated by Steamboat Creates. Make your vacation into a scavenger hunt by trying to find as many installations as you can. Along the walking tour you’ll see outdoor sculptures made of stone and steel as well as painted murals in a variety of artistic styles from modern to realism. Fill a water bottle, lace up your walking shoes, and plan 2-3 hours for this local arts and culture walking tour.
The Core Trail & Botanic Gardens
Start your Steamboat outdoor arts tour on the Yampa River Core Trail by Rotary Park heading west towards town. You will immediately be greeted by the immense red granite gates that rise over the paved walkway in perfectly precarious balance. This installation was built by George Manus in 2007. Continue following the Core Trail to the Steamboat Botanic Gardens. In the spring, summer, and fall the gardens are teeming over with colorful, fragrant flowers, plants, and trees. There are also a number of sculptures throughout the park for you to admire as you walk through.
Downtown Steamboat Murals
Continue your walking tour from the Botanic Gardens to downtown Steamboat by heading west on the Core Trail. Diverge from the Core Trail at the scenic 5th Street Bridge that stretches over the Yampa River and head towards Main Street. The first mural you encounter will be the outstretched wings on the outside of Kali’s Boutique. People love posing for photos with this perfectly poseable mural. Wind your way through downtown keeping your eyes peeled for the more than 20 outdoor murals on the sides of buildings. Make your way to the stunning Steamboat landscape mural by local artist Lance Whitner on the outside of Pine Moon Fine Art Gallery on 9th Street. For more information about the murals downtown take this guided tour.
The Rio Grande Railroad Car
Conclude your outdoor art walking tour on the Core Trail again by making your way to the Steamboat Art Depot. You will immediately see the bright yellow painted train car beside the old train station building, which is now an art gallery and workspace. The Rio Grande railroad car pays homage to the history and arts and culture of the Yampa Valley. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad was a prolific part of Colorado’s history, being the first to offer railroad service to many mining and agricultural communities in the state, including Steamboat Springs. This specific railroad car, and its yellow color, commemorate the last passenger and postal service train to service Steamboat in 1968. For nearly 30 years the caboose sat without purpose, finally being refurbished in 2017. The exterior is host to the mural painted by Espartaco Albornoz Abreu and the interior is an art studio for use by local artists.
Plein Air 2022
SAM’s Plein Air Event brings together the community and visitors with 50 artists from near and far as they paint on location. Showcasing the beauty of the Yampa Valley, the art that is created during this extraordinary week spotlights historic landmarks, ranches, the landscape, the community of Steamboat Springs and our growing arts and cultural offerings. This event is uniquely Steamboat! This is becoming one of the most popular events among Plein Air artists because of our Steamboat hospitality and breathtaking scenery. Again, this year, there will be many unique events to get to know the artists and the judge and purchase work. On Saturday, September 24th, 2022 at the Farmer's Market, check out the popular "Quick Draw" event and view unique art from different artists.
Support Steamboat Arts & Culture During Your Vacation
In 2019 a Cultural Data survey ranked Steamboat Springs #2 in the nation for small communities with arts vibrancy. A large part of this ranking is because of the quantity and quality of Steamboat’s outdoor art installations. Another reason is the copious fine art galleries throughout town and many local artists that call Steamboat home. Support Steamboat’s local arts and culture community by visiting the many art galleries located throughout town. Purchase one of a kind souvenirs made by local artists and crafters at shops like Gallery 89, Ohana, Steamboat Art Museum, and more.