Where to Stay in Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs: hot springs, spas and skiing awaits.
It sounds like an old Mickey Mouse movie (Steamboat Willie rocked up in 1928), and Steamboat Springs (often known by just its first name) lives up to that reference with its dreamy, Disney-esque attractions; a world adorned with botanical gardens, hot springs and ski resorts. Tucked away in the heart of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, it’s a base for exploring some of Colorado’s prime natural treasures.
The town itself is a haven for skiers when it turns white with snow in the winter months. Snow-topped mountains encircle the municipality, tempting you with their slopes, which is part of the reason it’s known as Ski Town. It has also produced the most winter Olympians, more than many small countries. In summer, its trails lead through the dense vegetation of the surrounding forest, while the central district hosts a botanical park, a museum and a water park that makes use of the hot springs from which the town takes its name. Here’s our Plum Guide review of where to stay in Steamboat Springs.
The town centre
When it comes to where to stay in Steamboat Springs, the centre of town would be the obvious choice. But that's fine, sometimes it's OK not to subvert expectations. You're not a Bond villain. This is where most of Steamboat Springs’ highlights lie, including the Old Town Hot Springs, with its natural thermal waters and swimming pools. Drop in to rest your weary body after hiking through the surrounding mountains and forests (or from sitting on the sofa for a year) and get a massage. For the kids, there is a floating obstacle course in the lap pool in summer.
For something a little different, attend a concert at the Chief Theater, which also puts on a range of festivals and events. A short walk north and you’ll reach the Tread of Pioneers Museum, with its Western Heritage Exhibit. It also has a firearms collection… Americans. Oh, and a part where you can learn about notorious outlaw Harry Tracy. Don’t get any ideas. You can also find out here about the town’s incredible ‘track record’ for producing winter Olympians.
OK, you’ve done the main attractions of the town centre; breathe a huge sigh of relief. It’s now time to simply relax and enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants and bars running along the main avenue. Wind down at Plum Guide home Sky Ridge, complete with a stunning outdoor pool and cosy fireplace.
One of the best things to do in Steamboat Springs, of course, is ski. Skirting the southern edge of the town is the Emerald Mountain, with its Howelsen Hill Ski Area. Hey, maybe your kids are destined for great things, like becoming one of the 100-or-so winter Olympians the town has produced. Let’s be realistic, though, you'll be grateful if they arrive at the bottom of the slope in one piece. This is Colorado’s oldest continuously-operated set of slopes, having been inaugurated in 1915. So, it must be pretty sturdy (either that, or falling apart from age... who knows. Good luck). Pick up a lift ticket and a season pass, and make your way up and down the mountain all day.
For a larger ski resort, head to the eastern edge of the town, where you’ll find the Steamboat Ski Resort. Now, this is the real stuff. It makes for a vast community of apartments and resorts in the mountains. Ride a chairlift up to the peak and zoom down the slopes. Go off piste and distract yourself in the fluffy snow, making sure to make snow angels and the like with your little ones. Then, tired from a day of skiing and snowboarding and whatever else you might be doing, get all dressed up and head down to the bars for the après ski scene.
Keen skiers will love Sunrise’s Ridge, a Plum Guide home with ski-in/ski-out access to Colorado's mountain slopes.
The southern part of the town lies between the centre and the Steamboat Ski Resort. Among its highlights is the Yampa River Botanic Park. Stroll through the floral exhibits and relax by the pond, which is surrounded by public works of art. Sit at a bench with a book in this spot. Enjoy the leafy setting of the Emerald Park at the northern end of the botanical park.
Spend the next few hours thinking about how to spell the first part of the neighbouring Amaze’n Steamboat Family Fun Park. It’s got mini golf and one of those bubbles you can climb into to walk on surface of the pool. Basically lots of family-fun stuff, as its name suggests. Next, visit the Fetcher Park and set up a picnic by the pond.
It’s all a little quieter at the northern end of the town, at the foot of the picturesque Deer Mountain. If you have tranquility in mind when searching for where to stay in Steamboat Springs, definitely consider staying here. Make your way across the impressive James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge and enjoy the views of the water. While contemplating the beauty of nature, ask yourself how the bridge could possibly have gotten its name. Well, it’s a long story, involving a jokey entrance to the naming competition, a petition against it and the arrival of James Brown, to open it. On a rainy day, bring your kids to the L.C.A. Climbing Center.