Steamboat resort – Larry Pierce
By Nancy Coulter-Parker
The last place you might associate with Disneyland is Steamboat Mountain Resort, but on certain nights in this ski town you might just find a fireworks display going off—like the kind you see at Disneyland. In fact, at the town’s 107th Winter Carnival this year, the Steamboat Fireworks team set a new fireworks world-record by launching a 62-inch shell into the night sky as part of the fireworks show. Although fireworks may seem out of character for a snow sport resort, it’s really not when you think about how much Steamboat revels in and loves to celebrate winter sports.
The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, whose headquarters are at Howelsen Hill, has produced 88 Winter Olympians. A visit to Howelsen and it’s easy to understand. Here you’ll find Nordic Ski trails, see the ski jumping setup, and possibly even athletes in training. You might even come across a slalom race in full swing.
This year, too, Steamboat feels like a bit of a winter wonderland as walls of snow line the roads. It’s got that winter magic atmosphere to help you feel like you’re getting away from it all whether you’re there for a weekend or a week. And no matter what you love about winter sports, it has something for every family member to have a good time.
Steamboat Resort – Larry Pierce
Sure, you often hear people quip that Steamboat Mountain Resort could use a little boost in vertical, that’s never kept me from having fun here. While there’s a nice setup for beginners at the base of the mountain at Christy Express, there’s plenty of tree skiing amongst evergreens and aspens and hiking for experts up top. If the snow is good, you’ll want to head back to Morningside Park where you can find your way down to Morningside Chair. From the top of Morningside Chair take an easy hike up to No Names, North St. Pats or East Face. Like the Chutes, these runs serve up trees, with a few open meadows, and the possibility of powder even a few days after a snowfall.
If the snow looks like it will be good during your visit, you should probably sign up for First Tracks, which gets you up on the gondola and over to Sundown Express before everyone else arrives. Or for the night owls, Steamboat offers night skiing off of Christie Express. And if the skiing is too good to take a break, be sure to track down the Taco Beast, snowcat mountain food truck, which serves up tasty take-to-go $5 tacos. If your legs need a break than Four-Points Lodge is an easy place to stop for fresh food.
If you want to mix up your skiing on Steamboat, then consider bringing telemark skis or AT gear with you to skin up the mountain. At Steamboat, you simply have to go to the Visitor’s Center to sign a waiver and get an armband to wear if you plan to head uphill. If you have kids with you, you’ll be hard pressed to get off the mountain without trying the Outlaw Mountain Coaster at the base of the mountain—a mini rollercoaster of sorts.
If you’ve got kids in tow or you’re still getting comfortable on the slopes, you might be hard-pressed to beat the prices at Howelsen Hill. It’s a hill and it’s small, but it’s easy on the pocketbook and there’s plenty to keep you busy if you’re just starting to connect turns. It also serves up world-class Nordic Trails. For a good workout strap on your AT gear and skin up the trails that wrap their way behind the hill. Blackmere Drive will eventually bring you to a lookout point directly across from Steamboat Resort. Fat Tire Bikes are welcome on the trails here, too.
No matter where you spend your day in Steamboat, at some point on your trip, apres-ski will have to involve a visit to the Old Town Hot Springs right in town, complete with slides and a climbing wall with a pool as a landing pad. Or head just outside of town to the more natural Strawberry Hot Springs. If you choose the latter, however, be sure to check road conditions before you head up.