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. One of the hot springs in Steamboat can be found down an adventurous drive north of town that brings you to a riverside canyon in one of the most perfect soaking settings imaginable (watch our video of Strawberry Park Hot Springs to behold the area's beauty), and another is located right in town and a popular spot for families.
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 and other waterfalls, 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 horseback-riding opportunities — and deep-seated ski heritage. The town has two ski areas: Steamboat Ski Resort and Howelsen Hill, the oldest, continuously used ski area in Colorado and home to nearly 90 Winter Olympians.
Hot-air balloons also populate Steamboat Springs' landscape. Each summer, the town hosts its Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, when a multitude of colorful balloons rise over the valley, offering riders incredible views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains. And many are drawn to the Yampa River for tubing and Gold Medal fly-fishing, along with three state parks found nearby: Stagecoach State Park, Pearl Lake State Park and Steamboat Lake State Park.
Read about how to spend a summer day in Steamboat Springs >>