My wife and I recently shipped our kids off to an overnight summer camp, so we celebrated our temporary empty-nester status (and our wedding anniversary) by driving to Steamboat Springs for the weekend. Without the kids, we had the freedom to explore the things that we wanted to do.
In the winter, Steamboat is known for one thing: Champagne Powder ©. Steamboat’s strength as a summer destination, however, is the great variety of things to do – fishing, hiking, horseback riding, golf, hot air balloons, farmers markets, along with lots of great restaurants, museums, shops, and art galleries. The sheer volume of activities makes it difficult to condense all the possibilities, but here’s our list of Top 5 Summer Activities in Steamboat Springs.
1) Strawberry Park Hot Springs: This one tops nearly everyone’s list, and with good reason. These natural hot springs a few miles outside of town have been nicely landscaped with natural rocks to create several different pools to explore, complete with stairs, railings, and wooden chairs on the patios surrounding the pools, perfect for relaxing after sitting in the hot pools. In the summer, hit the hot springs in the morning while the air temperature is still cool. Bring a towel, $10 per person (cash only), sunscreen, and a book from your summer reading list. Sitting in the pools is very peaceful, enhanced by the beauty of the remote outdoor setting. Don’t stay in the water too long, though, or you’ll nod off by page 3 of your novel.
Photo Credit: Rocky Mountain Vacation Rentals
2) Tubing the Yampa River: On a warm summer afternoon, the best way to cool off is to spend time on the Yampa River, which is notable as the last remaining free-flowing river (no dams) in the Colorado River basin. It flows right through downtown Steamboat Springs and there are several businesses in town that will rent you a tube and life jacket, and even give you a ride to the put-in area near 5th Street. Depending on the water level, the river is generally a “Goldilocks” situation – not too big, and not too small. Take your time and enjoy the scenery (both natural and human) as you float down the river. There is a hydraulic next to the Bud Werner Memorial library where locals try stand up paddling and surfing. Be sure to wear sunscreen and footwear that won’t wash away (no flip flops!)
Photo Credit: mtn-resorts.com
3) Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo: The heritage of Steamboat Springs lies in ranching, which makes it distinct from many other Colorado ski towns like Aspen, Breckenridge, or Telluride (which were established due to mining). Nowhere is this heritage more apparent than at the rodeo, which runs every weekend in the summer at the rodeo grounds, right at the base of Howelsen Hill ski area in downtown Steamboat Springs. Walk across the Yampa River to the rodeo grounds, grab a cold Coors and some barbecue, and choose your seat in the general admission bleachers (not a bad seat in the house). The classic rodeo events include team roping, steer wrestling, and, of course, bronc riding. The events are interspersed with crowd-pleasing comedy and entertainment from the rodeo clowns and PA announcers.
Photo Credit: Dave Belin
4) Biking: Steamboat Springs is becoming known as a bike destination, both for mountain biking and road biking. The options range from the gravity-fueled downhill mountain bike trails at Steamboat Ski Area (accessed from the gondola), to cross-country single track, road biking, and cruising the 7-mile Yampa River Core Trail, the bike path through town. The Core Trail passes several points of interest, including the updated and glass-heavy Bud Werner Memorial Library, the beautiful and serene Botanical Garden, and the boardwalks of the Rotary Garden. Enjoy a relaxing ride and stop to watch people fishing and tubing on the river.
Photo Credit: Steamboat Today
5) Drinks at Laundry Kitchen and Cocktails: After a big day of activity, relaxing with a tasty cocktail is a must. Check out Laundry Kitchen and Cocktails, a new restaurant located in a renovated building that actually housed a laundry service from the turn of the century until the 1970s. It feels a bit like a small brick warehouse that’s been remodeled with an urban flair. They serve some classic cocktails using recipes from the 1950s Official Mixers Manual. I recommend the smoky and sweet Kentucky Fall, while my wife enjoyed the orange flavors of Satan’s Whiskers (she loved the name, too). True to the history of the building, the bartenders make crushed ice by using the original irons from the laundry (and they are quite heavy!).
Photo Credit: TripAdvisor
Visit Steamboat Springs to find out if you agree with our list, or to make your own top 5 list!