With its sprawling ranches, aspen-draped mountains and oxbow rivers, the Steamboat Springs area makes for a serene escape. But don’t let the tranquil setting fool you — there is plenty of spine-tingling adventure to be had as well.
For hot-air balloon enthusiasts, the Upper Yampa River Valley often has the holy grail of conditions: gentle box winds. This phenomenon allows pilots to travel down the valley, reach a certain altitude, and return up the valley because of the opposite wind current up high. Regardless of season, travelers can gain a bird’s-eye view of this majestic valley with Wild West Balloon Adventures. Their 45-minute flights start bright and early to take advantage of ideal conditions and include a continental breakfast and champagne celebration.
After the flight, head to one of Steamboat Springs’ two thermal-water attractions — Old Town Hot Springs or Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Old Town Hot Springs boasts a waterslide, soaking pools and lap lanes, while Strawberry Park offers a more rustic and secluded (but no less indulgent) experience.
For an added bonus, join the throngs who spend mornings tubing the Yampa River. Local shops rent the tubs and can point you in the right direction and offer safety tips for bobbing down the city's waterway.
Follow your river or hot spring soak with a gondola ride to the top of Mount Werner for brunch or lunch with a splendid view. The Sunday brunch at Hazie’s has been called one of the top on-mountain dining experiences in North America by USA Today.
At the base of Steamboat Ski Resort, thrill seekers should check out the Coca-Cola Adventure Zone where they can embark on a ropes course, a climbing wall and a trampoline bungee jump.
From mid-afternoon to evening, make time to embrace the natural beauty of the area. Drive up scenic Buffalo Pass Road, which is especially picturesque in fall when golden aspens blanket the lower slopes of the Park Mountain Range. Picnic areas abound, but a high-clearance vehicle is recommended.
Meanwhile, anglers will delight in the Yampa River’s Gold Medal fishing waters — in particular, the stretch below Stagecoach Reservoir where leviathan brown and rainbow trout lurk in the swirling tailwaters. If you’d rather be seen in cowboy boots than waders, head to Lincoln Avenue for Western shopping at the iconic F.M. Light & Sons.
Spend the evening on downtown Steamboat Springs' historic main street, where delicious dining options abound regardless of season. On summer weekends, cross the Yampa River and enter Romick Rodeo Arena to enjoy a taste of the authentic West with the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series.
Visiting During Winter?
Steamboat Ski Resort is a winter wonderland for skiing and riding.