The Western Way
● By Dan Greeson
A rider takes her horses across the river amid rolling ranch land in the Elk River Valley. Photo by Noah Wetzel.
Steamboat Springs was a cow town long before it became Ski Town USA. Lincoln Avenue is said to be wide enough for a cattle drive, or for a pioneer wagon to make a U-turn. Learn about the valley’s rich history at the Tread of Pioneers Museum on Eighth and Oak streets. The Foundations of Steamboat exhibit showcases a rotating display of relics and tales from the longest-standing families in the valley. www.treadofpioneers.org / 970-879-2214
Options abound for time in the saddle. Choose from a slower-paced ride close to town or a scenic jaunt in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. Local stables cater to riders of all abilities and children six years and over.
Learn to rope and ride like a pro on a stay-and-ride visit to a dude ranch. Vista Verde Guest Ranch, The Home Ranch and Elk River Ranch are all situated against the picturesque backdrop of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness in North Routt County. Guests brush up on horsemanship skills while enjoying additional outdoor summer activities and fine dining
Enjoy the action at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, Friday and Saturday nights, June 16- Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m. (July Fourth, 6:30 p.m.) at the Brent Romick Arena. The Rocky Mountain PBR Bull Bash comes to the Romick Arena on Sunday, Sept. 4. www.steamboatprorodeo.com / 970-879-1818
Visit a Ranch
Experience life on a working ranch with a four-hour cattle drive at Saddleback Ranch. Absorb Steamboat’s ranching heritage on an ATV tour of the 8,000-acre property, complete with a wagon dinner ride. www.saddlebackranch.net / 970-879-3711
All the Fun at the Fair
A highlight on the ranching calendar is the 102nd Routt County Fair. Check out livestock exhibits and auctions, watch riders compete in dressage and watch 4H competitors put pooches through their paces. Local gardeners showcase their wares alongside canning, cake decorating and art exhibits. Entertainment varies from serious to silly with lawn-mower races, Demolition Derby, horseshoe pitching contests and the Routt Ranch Rumpus. Snack on funnel cakes and sip root beer while observing all the fun at the fair. Thursday–Sunday, Aug. 18-21. www.routtcountyfair.org