Think skiers in cowboy hats and you'll have a pretty good mental picture of Steamboat Springs in northwestern Colorado. Yes, there's world-renowned skiing here, but with an undercurrent of cowboy culture. The wide-open Yampa Valley brought cattle ranchers here in the 1800s, and the town's signature store still sells Western wear.
Like many of Colorado's most attractive towns, Steamboat Springs has great hot springs. The hot springs in Steamboat are down an adventurous drive north of town that brings you to a riverside canyon in one of the most perfect soaking settings imaginable.
In fact, the town got its name from its famed water works. Fur trappers who visited the area in the late 1800s heard the bubbling sound of one of the local hot springs and thought it sounded like a steamboat coming down the Yampa River.
Favorite outdoor activities among visitors are a hike to scenic Fish Creek Falls, followed by a mountain-bike ride or hike through the surrounding parks and forests. On cool summer nights, everyone goes to Strings Music Festival, a summer concert series, or to the rodeo, which draws the future stars of the rodeo circuit.
Steamboat is known, also, for its long-standing Western heritage — with a more than 100-year-old summer rodeo — and deep-seated ski heritage. The town is home to two ski areas: Steamboat Ski Resort and Howelsen Hill, the oldest ski area in continuous use in the state of Colorado, as well as nearly 90 Winter Olympians who call the area home.
Steamboat Springs is also home to hot-air balloons. Each summer, the town hosts its Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, with a multitude of colorful balloons rising over the valley, offering riders incredible views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
A variety of lodging and fine restaurants round out Steamboat's appeal.