There are many activities around Steamboat Springs to keep the kiddos happy, entertained, and well-worn out at the end of the day. When exploring our mountain town, there are ways to enjoy the great outdoors without traveling too far away. Right in the heart of downtown is water access, an awesome bike trail and great parks for the family.
Core Trail Cruisin’
Five words can sum up my family’s most favorite Steamboat summertime amenity: The Yampa River Core Trail. But my kiddos’ childish lexicon translates that mouthful of a name into what we affectionately refer to as “the bike path”. A local favorite, this seven-mile stretch of Steamboat summertime fun parallels the Yampa River making it easy for stops and splashes along the way. It’s beautiful and uncongested, perfect for families making their way to and from downtown. 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. Rent bikes for the day at one of several downtown bike shops and skip the mountain-town commute altogether.
There are so many ways to utilize the trail both for transportation purposes and activities. If you 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. Behind Rabbit Ears Motel, there is a natural hot spring in the river that the locals commonly refer to as “Hippie Hot Tubs”. Here, you can park along the road and walk down the grassy area to a built-out part of the river for a quick soak.
Tube the Yampa
Just bring your bathing suit and rent a tube at a local outfitter. They’ll get you set up with all of the gear and then send you out 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. A PFD (or personal floating device) is required for any children under 12!
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). Though the smell of sulfur sits heavy in this area, your kids will love this spot for water-filled fun.
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 Elk Park 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 playset 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.
Vacationing with little ones can be tough at times – especially when trying to find something to keep them entertained. However, with tons of local hotspots for outdoor activities, Steamboat will never leave you with crabby, bored kids. When exploring our town, you don’t have to travel far to immerse your kids in the Steamboat lifestyle!