Steamboat Trail Map
Steamboat Ski Area
► Alpine Ski Area
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.
► Game Plan for a Powder Day at Steamboat
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.
► Tubing Park and Snow Play
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.
► Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
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.