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You probably know Steamboat Springs Colorado as a world class winter playland. In fact it is such a great winter sports land that almost 100 Winter Olympians hail from Steamboat. As one of our favorite destination states, we are always up for a Colorado road trip. So when we received a week of free condo use in Steamboat as a wedding gift we headed off to find out what happens there in the summer. We quickly discovered that this town doesn’t go to sleep when the snow melts. Steamboat Springs is the perfect place for summer fun and adventure.
THINGS TO DO IN STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO
Enjoy mountain views from horseback
You’ll find that the mountains look more vibrant from the back of a horse! There are several working ranches in the area that offer summer horseback rides. The reviews on all are great so it’s hard to choose. We decided to try Saddleback Ranch for a two hour ride. The ranch hands were amazing.
It was the best guided horseback ride I’ve ever taken. Unlike many trail rides that have the nose of your horse following the butt of the horse in front of you, this ride felt freer. That was probably the result of the wide open spaces as we moved along. Of course the horses are well trained and follow your guide so feel very safe.
In addition to guided horseback rides you will find opportunities to join roundups, dinner rides and chuck wagon dinner rides. Services vary by ranch.
Relax at Strawberry Park Hot Springs
Nestled into the mountains, Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a luxury to be embraced. The hot springs, only a 15 minute drive from downtown Steamboat, are in a beautiful natural park setting. In the summer lush flower gardens border the large hot spring areas. Picnic grounds, massages and cabins are also available in Strawberry Park.
Hike to Fish Creek Falls
Who can pass up a 280 foot waterfall drop? Fish Creek Falls, only minutes outside Steamboat Springs, is certain to impress. What’s great about this Steamboat Springs feature is that there is something for every hiking skill level. There’s a short ¾ mile wheelchair accessible paved path to a waterfall viewing point. There’s a second easy short dirt trail to the bottom of the falls. From there many visitors climb out on the rocks and enjoy the cool water. Or you can embrace the difficult 4.7 mile (round trip) hike to the top of the falls for unbelievable views.
Fish Creek Falls is part of the National Forest Service with a $5 Day Use Fee. On the day we visited it was quite crowded and we added ½ mile hike to our day getting from distant parking to the falls. Enjoy your lunch here as there is a nice picnic area along the dirt trail to the falls base.
Wander the Yampa River Botanic Park
This beautiful 6 acre park is managed by a small army of passionate volunteers. They have created a paradise ready for relaxing. The flower beds are beautifully landscaped along the wandering trails. Reflection benches have been placed throughout the park.
Cool down by tubing the Yampa River
An extremely popular activity on a hot summer day is to float down the Yampa River in a tube. The Yampa is fairly shallow where it wanders through the town of Steamboat providing a great way for the whole family to cool off. There is easy access to parks and restaurants along the way if you want to stop off as you go.
You have 3 options to access the river for tubing. The easiest is to use an outfitter as there are several in Steamboat Springs that will provide you with all the gear then drop you off at the put in point.
If you want to go it on your own, then you can either use 2 vehicles parked at put in and take out points or you can park at your take out point and ride the free city bus to the put in location. If you didn’t bring any supplies and are not using an outfitter, we found inexpensive tubes and water shoes for sale at the local grocery store.
Fly on the Outlaw Mountain Coaster
You might be like us and try to avoid the more commercial activities when visiting beautiful locations. But I have to say that the Outlaw Mountain Coaster is well worth a stop and we’d do it again in a heartbeat. On this alpine slide, you will travel over a mile on the elevated track, rounding hairpin curves like a pro. Everybody gets off laughing.
Enjoy the chill at a local brewery
Ready to relax after a busy day? Check out one of the wonderful local breweries in Steamboat. All offer outdoor seating on a beautiful day, or a cozy indoor place to hide from the rain. We found live music on several occasions.
Spend a high adrenaline evening at the Pro Rodeo
Every Friday and Saturday night of the summer, the Rodeo is in town in Steamboat Springs. We were so disappointed our schedule meant that we missed this event. This is a true western rodeo and the stadium seating puts you close to the action. The show starts at 7:30 but if you arrive early you can join in for a delicious BBQ dinner.
Thoughts on lodging in Steamboat Springs
This place is packed with beautiful rental condos. Most are like our home for the week, with easy access to the ski slopes. They include gorgeous heated pools, hot tubs and recreational areas. Even though summer is a busy time, it is not nearly as crowded as ski season so it’s also a great time to look for deal with many of the area hotels and lodges.
Where to eat in Steamboat Springs
Steamboat is a foodie Mecca! We loved the main street where the restaurants have a handful of tables on the sidewalk so you can people watch as you dine. Tucked into nooks of the city you will find everything from western style barbeque joints to farm to table boutique restaurants.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ladona Stork and her husband, Brad, help adventure lovers plan their US National Park vacations. You can find her sharing stories and travel planning tips at Walking the Parks.