Steamboat's Best Loved Places
● By Christina Freeman
Fish Creek Falls is one of the top tourist attractions in the area. Photo by Deborah Olsen
Head to the heart of Steamboat Springs to find the gem of the valley: Emerald Mountain and the Howelsen Hill Sports Complex. The mountain is a unique city park. In the winter, recreational skiers and future Olympians zip around the extensive Nordic trail system and lift-served alpine ski runs and ski jumps. Night skiing, tubing, an Olympic-caliber indoor ice rink, an historic ski lodge and Olympian Hall are all part of the complex. The snow melts to reveal more than 25 miles of singletrack multi-use trails, popular with mountain bikers. Ski jumpers train year-round on plastic-covered ski jumps, and an alpine slide, BMX park, skateboard park, horseback trails, athletic fields, picnic areas, and volleyball and tennis courts are among the amenities. Enter via Howelsen Hill Parkway, from Fifth Street, or by bike or on foot from the Yampa River Core Trail, which runs parallel to the complex. http://www.steamboatsprings.net/ | 970-879-4300
FISH CREEK FALLS
Four miles east of downtown Steamboat Springs, the 283-foot waterfall pours out of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. Named by early pioneers for the abundant fish in the creek below, these falls inspired the original 1937 Coors beer can. When Coors Light was introduced in 1978, Melton Falls, near Marble, replaced it. An ideal spot for a short handicap-accessible hike to views of the picturesque falls, it’s also a jumping-off point for miles of day hikes. From Lincoln Avenue, turn north on Third Street, then right on Fish Creek Falls Road. Follow it to the end. Daily parking fee: $5.
TREAD OF PIONEERS MUSEUM
Check out early wooden plank skis, learn why Steamboat is home to more Olympic athletes than any other town in the nation, and experience what pioneer life was like 100 years ago in the Yampa Valley. Exhibits include “Ski Town USA”; “Steamboat Springs: The Land, The People, The Town”; Native American images and art; and “Snowflakes: Nature’s Dazzling Design Photograph Exhibition.” Don’t miss the 1908 Queen Anne Victorian house, which features turn-of-the-century rooms including a ranch-style kitchen and Victorian dining room, parlor and bedroom. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. www.treadofpioneers.org | 970-879-2214
BUD WERNER MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Steamboat’s library, which was remodeled and expanded in 2009, is both a hub for the local community and an incredible place to hang out. Free film series (featuring documentaries, dance, and wildlife), community yoga practices and speakers like author Alan Weisman (March 17), keep the library exciting and fresh. There are extensive book and magazine collections, a lively children’s section with a fish tank and beanbags, comfortable chairs with commanding views of the river, public computers, wireless access and an in-house coffee shop. www.steamboatlibrary.org | 970-879-0240
OLD TOWN SHOPPING DISTRICT
Browse extensive art galleries, find fashionable leather boots or your first authentic cowboy hat, enjoy a hot drink and a massage, and choose souvenirs for friends back home, all without ever getting in a car. Downtown Steamboat, otherwise known as Old Town, is less than three miles from the Steamboat Ski Area and just blocks away from Howelsen Hill. Restaurants, shops, spas and art galleries line Lincoln Avenue (aka U.S. 40) from Third to 13th streets. Parallel streets (Yampa and Oak streets) and side streets are also filled with extensive shopping and dining. Special events, from the Winter Carnival to the summer’s Farmers' Markets, take place downtown. Free city buses and hotel shuttles connect the mountain to Old Town.