I’m not sure there are actually any BAD photo spots in Steamboat. If you walk out of your hotel room or your condominium and have your eyes open, chances are you’re staring at a mountain, a river, a grove of Aspens or perhaps a combo of all 3. Basically, swoon-worthy backdrops are everywhere and your holiday card is sure to be a stand-out if you shoot it in Steamboat!
So grab your selfie stick (actually, please, no don’t do that, nobody does that here!) and head to these spots for unforgettable family photos. I should add that if you’re tired of not ever being IN your family photos, yet the idea of one more awkward shot from your extended arms makes you cringe then consider hiring a Steamboat professional photographer to make your family vacation wall worthy. Prices are reasonable and professional memories of family get-togethers are worth it. Also, people are incredibly NICE in Steamboat. Chances are, if you ask someone to casually snap a photo of your family with your iPhone they will graciously agree. I’ve taken tons of photos of visitors both as a paid professional and just as a nearby hiker, biker, skier. Most locals are always happy to help captivate a moment for you.
Top Spots for Photos
Fish Creek Falls
Fish Creek Falls is always a fun one. The area is accessible to everyone. It’s even wheelchair accessible, so while certain backdrops might be more challenging to get to, this one is not. Even the walk to the falls is photo-worthy with lovely aspen groves. Have fun with little ones playing aspen tree peak-a-boo. The falls are stunning to look at and there are a few areas where you can perfectly position your clan with the rushing falls in the background. Photo tip: Crashing water can be noisy, so use your outdoor voice, plan ahead a little bit and use your best pantomiming skills (or just manhandle the bunch) to direct your crew into a great position.
Top of the Gondola
Ride the gondola to 9080 feet above sea level, this gives you the perfect panorama of the entire town. Take the photo anywhere you go, you’ll have either the entire town below you or beautiful Storm Peak behind you. Photo tip: you can get great photos during Sunset Happy Hour on Thursday evenings hosted on the deck outside of Thunderhead Red’s the lovely cocktails and live music are a bonus.
The iconic Steamboat Barn is a great setting for memorable shots. The layered effect is gorgeous with your subjects in the foreground, the barn in the mid-ground and the ski mountain in the background. Rustic fences and large rocks make nice resting spots for posing people amidst the natural environment.
5th Street Bridge
Just off of the Yampa Valley Core Trail is the 5th Street bridge crossing the Yampa River (downtown). Pose your family on the bridge with the mountain in the background and you’ll have a Redford-worthy cinematic moment as the river runs through the background as well.
Steamboat Art Depot
The Art Depot is the former Steamboat train station, turned art museum. A little known scenic spot is just behind the depot where the train still runs. Position your subject on the “right” side of the tracks and you’ll have a gorgeous shot of the mountain behind them with enough distance to get a close up of the subjects and the mountain in the background.
Rabbit Ears Pass
Ok this view you’ve got to earn and this suggestion is more for your scenic Steamboat shots sans people. Because chances are your people might be sweaty and huffing and puffing by the time they get to the actual ears. Plus, where the vistas are is a bit steep, so there’s not a lot of room for posing people, nor do you want anyone sliding off the mountain. That would make for a not-so-great Kodak moment. BUT the view at the top of Rabbit Ears is unsurpassed and the bragging rights of touching the bunny ears is quite fun. It’s an easy hike to the base, not at all an easy hike to the peak, but the shots you’ll take home from over 10,000 feet are gorgeous. Dumont Lake is another area nearby and is very walkable with scenic backdrops plus beautiful lake reflections and wildflowers.
Anywhere you point your lens, chances are you’ll find photo ops galore. The Yampa River Botanical Gardens are gorgeous in the summertime; in the fall, Buffalo Pass is stunning. If you’re a more serious photog looking for photo tours of the area, Focus Adventures offers workshops and private tours. Many other photographers (myself included) offer private tours as well.
Of course, if you attend one of the many fantastic summer events, chances are you can also pop your head into a photo cut out where you get to be a cowboy, a biker or a hot air balloon rider.