In the years before I moved to the Yampa Valley, I made several trips to other resorts along the I-70 corridor but none had the feel of Steamboat Springs. I’ve now lived in Colorado for almost 20 years, with the majority spent in the Front Range communities of Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. When I could find time to get away for a weekend or a week, I kept coming back to Steamboat Springs.
Even though it’s grown over the years, Steamboat is still the same. The combination of an expansive valley, the feeling of a real town and the genuine western hospitality is one that fits my style. It’s easy to feel comfortable here.
Now that I live here, I love the sense of arrival. If I come in from the east, a long drive over Rabbit Ears Pass ends with a descent into the beautiful, wide valley. Instead of commercial highway congestion, I’m greeted by ranches and open spaces. When arriving at the airport in Hayden, more wide open space, until you round the corner and the bulk of Mount Werner and the Steamboat Ski Resort, dominate the skyline.
A lot of things make us different from the I-70 resorts. For one thing, we’re lower in elevation. A lot lower. At 6,700 feet, you can still be in the mountains but it’s easier on the lungs and the body. This is also a western town. The footwear du jour in Steamboat is likely to be cowboy boots and it’s not uncommon to see a heck of a lot more trucks than vanity cars here. It’s laid back and relaxed. During the summer, the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series takes place every Friday and Saturday night at Brent Romick Arena. You won’t find that at any other Colorado resorts.
As we like to say, we’re a real town that happens to have a world class ski resort in our backyard. The resort and downtown are a short distance apart, but you get a different feel at each. We have not one, but two ski areas. Howelsen Hill, the original ski hill is still in operation downtown. Nowhere else in the state can you find the ski jumps that make this area famous. Thanks to the vision of Carl Howelsen, more winter Olympians have come from Steamboat Springs than any other town in North America.
The Yampa River runs through town and is another gem that many other resorts don’t have. My family and I get out the inner tubes a few times a year for a gentle float through town. You can find some of the best fly fishing in this part of the state right here in town. Or, if you’ve got more time, head up to the Elk River.
After a long day of skiing, fishing or hiking, I don’t need a hot tub to soak in. I prefer the natural ones at the Old Town Hot Springs or a trip up to the unique Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
For some reason, this place feels more natural and real to me. Steamboat Springs is my kind of place.