Steamboat Ski Resort is a premier ski destination famous for its Champagne Powder®. The mountain is also known for its unique aspen glades, offering up some of the best tree skiing in North America.
Founded in 1963, Steamboat Ski Resort is situated across seven mountain peaks within the Park Range and overlooks the Yampa Valley. The area has a rich western heritage and cowboy vibe that's celebrated throughout many annual events held on the mountain and in town, including the Cowboy Downhill and the Steamboat Winter Carnival.
One of the largest ski resorts in Colorado, Steamboat Springs has been dubbed Ski Town, U.S.A. ®, due to the fact that more Olympians call Steamboat home than any other ski resort. It’s one of Colorado's best family-friendly ski resorts.
Steamboat Ski Resort has over 4.6 square miles (2,965 acres) of skiable terrain, 169 named trails, and 18 lifts. The base elevation is 6,900 feet, and the summit elevation is 10,568 feet. The vertical rise is 3,668 feet.
The resort is located just outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It’s about a 3-hour drive from Denver and an hour and a half from Summit County.
The closest airport to Steamboat is Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN), 20 miles west of the resort. United is the only year-round major carrier, but during winter months carriers include American (from Dallas/Ft. Worth and Chicago), Delta (from Minneapolis and Atlanta), Frontier (from Denver), and Continental (from Houston). If you’re on a budget first look at flying into Denver (DEN) approximately three hours to the southwest and renting a car or booking a Go Alpine shuttle (see below).
From The Airport
Check first with your lodging provider to see if airport shuttles are included with your stay. If they aren’t —and that will be the case if you’re flying into Denver International—plan on renting a car or booking a shuttle through Go Alpine (800-343-RIDE), which offers transportation from both airports.
Shared service and private airport limo service from HDN can also be arranged with Storm Mountain Express (877-844-8787). Just don’t expect any public transportation, it doesn’t exist.
Getting Around Once You’re There
You don’t strictly need a car. Steamboat’s base area is pedestrian-friendly, and so is downtown Steamboat Springs (located four miles from the resort), but getting between the two requires wheels. As you consider lodging options, check their shuttle service: Some (but not all) provide rides to the lifts or to town. No shuttle? Ask about bus-stop proximity. Steamboat Springs operates a free bus system linking the base area to the town and area condos.
Situated at the edge of town, Creekside Café serves up sizable breakfast and lunch dishes, including unique and specialty creations like the Wafflelaughagus. The Bloody Mary at this quaint café is equally sizable and a standout.
Located between downtown and the resort, Freshies crams rainbow-hued veggies and top-quality cheeses (like aged white cheddar) into Steamboat’s best omelets. The sweets are fantastic, too. Try the famous cinnamon rolls or a plate of dried cherry granola pancakes. Colorful pendant lamps and exotic fresh flowers (never carnations!) complement the colorful food.
Right there on the main strip, smack in the middle of town, Winona's Restaurant & Bakery serves up world-famous homemade cinnamon rolls that will spoil your appetite. Share it with at least one or two others, and then settle in for a huge selection of breakfast and lunch options.
Glide into Hazie’s for top-of-the-gondola panoramas over the Yampa Valley. Reserve a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows to admire the distant Flat Tops while you enjoy a delicious meal. Hazie’s bar, a brass-and-mahogany affair, also turns out a respectable Bloody Mary.
Café Diva is the base area’s most romantic restaurant, with tables tucked into tiny alcoves and expert wait staff that make diners feel special. The restaurant specializes in locally sourced meats and produce.
For a low-key spot that’s still high bar about its food, try Mazzola’s Italian Diner. This downtown pizza-and-pasta joint feels like a spiffy basement speakeasy, and its chummy servers welcome you as a member of the club.
Bar service is notoriously slow at Slopeside Grill, a ski-in, stagger-out bar located adjacent to the Christie III lift - but nobody cares. On sunny afternoons, this slope side joint resembles Daytona Beach as hordes of revelers strip down and belly up to the open-air ice bar.
The upscale Truffle Pig Restaurant offers a great happy hour with seriously cheap beer and well drinks along with some munchies to tide you over for dinner.
Unlike some ski areas, where the best beginner and intermediate terrain is located near the base, Steamboat’s friendliest groomers are at the very top. Nicknamed “Wally World,” the blue runs served by the Sunshine Express Lift are mellow and wide. The trees bordering these runs are similarly forgiving and allow bolder members of the family to weave among the pines while more timid skiers stick to the open run - all the while staying within yards of one another. Plus, Wally World is first to catch the sun’s rays, a plus on nippy mornings. On the lower mountain, be sure to hit Swinger: This green slope runs parallel to the always-jammed Right-O-Way and sees so little traffic that it offers uncut corduroy late into the afternoon.
Steamboat’s signature runs are Closets and Shadows, two sublimely long tree shots that are deservedly famous: When the pow is deep and soft, there’s no finer tree skiing anywhere in North America. The catch? Everybody heads here for that postcard-perfect experience, so solitude is elusive, and the goods get gobbled fast. For a shorter (but less trafficked) version of Steamboat’s celebrated tree-skiing, try Hot Cakes in Morningside Park.
For bumps, ride the Burgess Creek Lift, which accesses Norther (a blue-black that’s mellow enough to let most skiers take the zipper-line) as well as White Out (Steamboat’s best bump run). Or, ride the Four Points Lift and hammer Nelson’s Run. Named for Olympic bronze medalist Nelson Carmichael (one of 84 Olympians that hail from Steamboat Springs, more than any other town in the U.S.), Nelson’s big moguls and multiple fall lines demand expert mettle.
If your guilty pleasure is rocketing down groomers, start your day on Heavenly Daze or Vagabond. By afternoon, these big boulevards become thoroughfares for barn-bound skiers, but in the morning, these intermediate runs make for gleeful first flights.
Get to the gondola at least 45 minutes before it opens. Riding the Silver Bullet is still the best and fastest way to the goods, and diehard powder-hounds take pride in “pressing glass” (being the first in line at the sliding glass doors of the gondola loading dock). Exiting the gondola, most traffic heads for the Storm Peak Express lift, which accesses the summit - but that doesn’t open until 9 a.m. Don’t wait there: instead, ride the Pony Express Lift. Snowstorms out of the south deposit heaps of powder on the stashes off Pioneer Ridge, which offer some of the mountain’s longest runs. Plus, the masses don’t usually head this way until after 10:30 a.m.
After you’ve plundered the easy pickings, take Storm Peak lift to ski Morningside Bowl, and ride Morningside Lift, which accesses the hike-to terrain off the top of Mt. Werner. These four gated access points offer up the resort’s deepest snow. The choicest terrain sits beyond Gate C (North St. Pat’s), which mixes wide, tree-lined alleys with narrow chutes and cliffy, mandatory-air lines. If the snowfall (and your muscles) stick around through the afternoon, hit the trees on skier’s left of Storm Peak Face: these stashes often get neglected after the early-morning stampede.
For kids (and kids at heart), don’t miss Saddleback Ranch's Yee-Haw Tubing Hill. The hill is groomed and equipped with a state of the art tube-tow lift system that attaches itself to the tube to transport you back to the top. From there, speed down the hill on a large inner tube provided by the ranch. At the bottom, warm up in the Longhorn Warming Lodge, grab a bite to eat or a warm drink from the concession stand and hit the slope again.
The Haymaker Nordic Center has 8km of groomed trails for classic skiing, skate skiing and snowshoeing, all ability levels welcome.
The Steamboat Ski Touring Center offers 15 km of trails groomed for classic and skate skiing for novice to advanced skiers, plus 10 km of snowshoe trails. The trails wind across meadows, into Aspen groves, and along Fish Creek, offering some of the most enjoyable and accessible winter recreation in the Yampa Valley. Hearty homemade lunches and snacks are available all day at The Picnic Basket in the Nordic Clubhouse.
You can also explore the Yampa Valley's singletrack by fat bike.
Relax at Strawberry Park & Old Town hot springs.
Do the easy hike to Fish Creek Falls.
Visit Howelsen Hill, Colorado’s oldest continuously operated ski area since 1915. Featuring the largest and most complete natural ski jumping complex in North America, Howelsen has been the training ground for more than 89 Olympians making over 151 appearances in the Winter Olympics.
Visit the Olympic-sized Howelsen Hill Ice Arena, which offers public skating in addition to bumper cars… on ice! Schedule a sleigh ride around the Yampa Valley’s rolling hills or a Western Style BBQ Buffet at the top of the Steamboat Gondola for the family.
Finally, don’t miss the new Outlaw Mountain Coaster. At more than 6,280 linear feet, the longest coaster in North America and is open year-round.
The Steamboat Light the Night Celebration features six hot air balloons that illuminate the Mountain Village as spectators stroll by or watch from the warmth of a slopeside eatery. The celebration culminates with a fireworks display and the Torchlight Parade, in which the Steamboat SnowSports School staff skiing down the mountain with torches.
The Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is the oldest continuing winter carnival west of the Mississippi. For several days, the entire town is given over to racing, ski jumping, a parade featuring Steamboat’s skiing high school band (the only one in the United States), the famous ski jöring events down Lincoln Avenue, and the spectacular night show featuring the legendary Lighted Man and fireworks display where you can see one of the largest fireworks in the country.
Love bluegrass and craft beer? You won’t want to miss the WinterWonderGrass Festival, which takes place in Steamboat each February.
In addition to ski lessons for kids, adults, and first-timers, Steamboat offers adaptive lessons and specialty programs. Fine-tune your racing skills, hit the slopes with Steamboat Olympians, or work on your carving in a 3-day women's clinic taught by Steamboat’s top-level coaches.
Kids can also spend the day at The Kids' Vacation Center, which offers all-day group lessons for children ages 2 years 6 months to Kindergarten. Children are grouped by age and development and spend their time doing fun engaging activities inside and outside.
Steamboat Resort offers child care for children 1 to 6 years old. Professionals provide excellent care with age-appropriate activities and lots of fun while you enjoy the slopes.