Outdoor Thrills for the Non-Olympian
● By Alesha Damerville
Image from Steamboat Snowmobile Tours
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – You don’t have to be a backcountry badass or a three-time Olympian to explore the outdoor spaces of Routt County in winter. In fact, you barely even have to break a sweat.
When the downtown stretch of the Yampa River freezes over, resist the urge to pack up your fishing gear for the next few months. Winter fishing can actually top summer fishing in many ways: stay cool, avoid the crowds and pressure of other fishermen and take advantage of hungrier fish.
“It’s a big adventure going out and fly fishing in the winter, and it’s something you can do to take a break from skiing,” says Wes Fout, a guide at Steamboat Flyfisher. “Especially if you’re here skiing all week and you’re tired, you can still fish.”
Fout adds that you might get a better haul if you fish in the colder months. “Those bigger fish are definitely more opportunistic in the winter,” he says.
Fly fish on the tail waters of Stagecoach Reservoir, accessed via hiking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or skiing. The extra effort to get to the tail waters is absolutely worth it: there is much less pressure from other fishermen in the winter, allowing for more peaceful fishing and a greater likelihood of catching something.
Top local options for ice fishing include Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach Reservoir, as well as various ranches around the valley (depending on which outfitter/guide you choose.
Do you have a need for speed, but your legs are tired after a week of ski days on the mountain? Explore the deep, hidden powder stashes of Rabbit Ears Pass, Elk River Valley or select Routt County ranches with a snowmobile tour. Hit top speed, blast through snowbanks and, best of all, climb effortlessly to some of the best views in the Yampa Valley. Hit the backcountry with one of Steamboat’s snowmobile rental/tour companies.
If you want to tour the scenic beauty of Routt County but prefer a calm, peaceful ride over a high-speed one, try a horseback ride. See tranquil winter scenery without having to “feel the burn” of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Bonus: a horseback ride is a great way to connect with the local Western heritage, surveying the land the way ranchers and cowboys have been doing in the Yampa Valley for over a century.
Don’t let tired legs or inexperience keep you indoors this winter – in Steamboat, the outdoors are for everyone.