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Steamboat Magazine

A Whirlwind Tour of South Routt County

06/27/2022 07:52AM ● By Casey Hopkins
Photograph by Paula Jo Jaconetta©

Photograph by Paula Jo Jaconetta©

The authentic Western experience would be incomplete without venturing out of Steamboat Springs on Colorado 131 and into South Routt County, or “South Routt” as Yampa Valley locals call it. This area is known for its rich ranching and mining history and friendly, laid-back lifestyle.

Just a 20-minute drive south from Steamboat is Oak Creek, which started out as a mining town and was once the largest city in Routt County. Oak Creek is a perfect base of operations while you take a tour at Lucky 8 Ranch or boat at the nearby Stagecoach Marina. Mark your calendar for Labor Day, because Oak Creek pulls out all the stops with a parade, contests in the park, live music and – always a crowd-pleaser – bingo at the Oak Creek Fire Station. Explore local shops on main street and chow down at a wide variety of local eateries – Lupita’s Cantina or the Oak Creek Tavern are sure to please.

Haven’t gotten your fill of small-town charm? Head further south to Yampa, a town packed with ranching history and hospitality. Grab a burger at Penny’s Diner or a sweet treat at the Bearpaw Bakery. Don’t forget to stop by the Antlers Cafe & Bar and Montgomery’s General Merchandise, both of which are historically rich locations that are still in use today. Yampa also serves as the gateway to the Flat Tops via the Flat Tops Scenic Byway, a road lined with breathtaking views and countless hiking and camping options. A popular hiking option is the Devil’s Causeway, which offers 360-degree views from atop the Flat Tops and an adrenaline-rush-inducing causeway crossing near the midpoint of the 10.5-mile roundtrip hike.

After exploring South Routt, drive back to Steamboat Springs, past miles of rolling ranch land, knowing that you’ve experienced a piece of the authentic West