Five words can sum up my family’s most favorite Steamboat summertime amenity: The Yampa River Core Trail.  But my kiddos’ little kid lexicon translates that mouthful of a name into what we affectionately just refer to as “the bike path”.  


This seven-mile stretch of Steamboat summertime fun parallels the Yampa River making it easy for stops and splashes along the way.  If you’re staying near the mountain base, you can ride this baby all the way downtown (recommended for families with older kids, or parents with bike trailers for little ones).  You can also catch the free bus (yes, with your bike) and just wheel your way around the downtown sector.  Or rent bikes for the day at one of several downtown bike shops and skip the mountain-town commute all together.  If you do ride from the mountain to downtown, you can stop for a stroll at the Yampa River Botanical Gardens or even fish at Fetcher Pond along the way.

Our family’s favorite stretch of the Yampa River Core Trail is from about 5th Street to the Art Depot (11th Street).  This is where all of the family focused Steamboat action is.  Here are a few of our faves:

The Wetter the Better! If a dip in the river looks like a blast, that’s because IT IS!  Especially in July and August when the weather is warm and the fresh river water is oh so inviting.

Tube the Yampa Just bring your bathing suit and rent a tube at Backdoor Sports.  They’ll get you set up with all of the gear and then send you out their “backdoor” to float down the river.  At the end of this 1-hour long wild ride (actually it’s a pretty easy float most days), just follow the signs to their shuttle buses and the drivers will drop you back into town.  Although there are no official rules regulating the age of river rats, the suggestion for staying safe (and sane) is for families with kids over the age of 5.


C-Hole Swimming Originally used for kayakers surfing the river, the C-Hole is now also frequented by the families nearly every weekend.  From the bike path, just head West to the library (past Little Toots Park) and you’ll see kids of all ages either dipping a toe in or doing a full on body surf of the rapids (life jackets recommended for little ones).

Park Crawl Ride bikes to the playful parks that are just a stone’s skip away from the core trail.  First stop is Little Toots for some monkeying around on the monkey bars.  Next up you can ride to the Art Depot to commandeer the swing sets and teeter totters and, if you’re feeling really ambitious, go all the way to the “climbing park” officially known as Stock Bridge Park. As our family’s nickname suggests, this park has ample ropes and play set towers perfect for climbing.


And when the family is ravenous from all of the fun on the Yampa River Core Trail, there’s plenty of Steamboat sustenance for optimal river refueling.  The riverside restaurant row downtown has everything from sushi and steaks to sandwiches and smoothies.  Grab a seat by a window or a table on an expansive riverside deck and relax to the sounds of the currents as your kids retell the tales of the trail.

- Lizzie Larock