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Steamboat Magazine

Wintertime Play in Steamboat Springs

(Photo: A winter horseback ride at Saddleback Ranch offers breathtaking views of the Yampa Valley. COURTESY OF SADDLEBACK RANCH

Printed in the Steamboat Springs Visitors' Guide Ski Season 2022-23. 

Play Outdoors: 
Steamboat’s icy winters don’t slow down the town’s bustling activity – or limit it to the ski slopes. There’s fun in the snow for everyone, and you don’t need skis or a snowboard to join in.

For thrill-seekers off the ski mountain, nothing’s more exciting than snowmobiling. If you’re heavy on the throttle, you can let loose in the open meadows of Rabbit Ears Pass, the Flat Tops or North Routt County, with Steamboat Snowmobile Tours, High Mountain Snowmobile Tours or Thunderstruck Adventures. If you’re looking for stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, sleds will zip you up to breathtaking lookouts facing the Zirkels, the Continental Divide and Sleeping Giant. Lucky 8 Ranch in South Routt leads a bison snowmobile tour celebrating our national mammal. 

Less adrenaline-filled, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing still lead to astonishing views. The Steamboat Ski Area offers guided snowshoe tours of the iconic Mount Werner. For environmentalists looking to combine winter views with a lesson on keeping them wintery, Yampatika leads hikes and cross-country skiing while educating adventurers on protecting Mother Nature. 

If skate-skiing is your forte, or you’re looking for a workout, Haymaker Nordic Center, Lake Catamount Touring Center, Steamboat Ski Touring Center and Howelsen Hill offer groomed trails for all levels, from first-timers to Olympic hopefuls. During the early season, Bruce’s Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass is groomed before anywhere else, becoming a winter wonderland for cross-country skiers and snowshoers as early as October. 

Snow-tubing is a great option for families looking for a thrill. At Vista Verde Guest Ranch, snowmobiles will pull you up the hill, and at Saddleback Ranch, a tube-tow lift system will take you to the top. It’s all the fun of the tobogganing you enjoyed as a kid, without any huffing and puffing on your way back up the hill. You’re never too old to fly down a groomed sledding track, laughing all the way. 

(Photo: Fly fishing continues through winter on the Yampa River. COURTESY OF LARRY PIERCE) 

Missing the activities of the warmer months? Fishing and biking are year-round in Steamboat. Fly fishing continues downtown on the icy Yampa River, where anglers find fewer crowds and more fish in winter. Fly fishing away from town is best in the Yampa tailwaters below Stagecoach Reservoir. You can make the 1.5-mile trek on foot, bike, skis, or snowmobile – the trip will only make the catch more worthwhile. 

Biking in Steamboat is no longer seasonal. With fat-tire bikes, you can cruise on the Yampa River Core Trail or Emerald Mountain just as you would in July – just with more layers. Fat-tire bikers have access to most nordic, snowshoe and snowmobile trails, so the terrain has something for everyone. 

Playing in the snow doesn’t require a lift ticket. If carving up groomers or ripping through powder isn’t your thing, you’re sure to find other ways to enjoy the Yampa Valley’s snowscape.

Play Indoors: 
Sometimes you just want to come in from the snow. 

Fortunately, while Steamboat Springs is famous for its outdoor fun, options abound for indoor play as well. 

Active pursuits like drop-in hockey at Howelsen Ice Arena or a fast-paced game of pickleball at the City of Steamboat Springs Tennis and Pickleball Complex will not only keep you fit but will also warm you up on the coldest winter day. The Climbing Collective prides itself in its all-ages indoor experience, with programs for kids ages 2 ½ and up. 

Multi-generational families, honeymooners and college kids make their way to Snow Bowl, where food, cocktails and bowling share the stage with occasional live music, arcade games and sports-centric television. 

(Photo: Waylon Spillane scales a wall at the Climbing Collective, where indoor climbing is open for ages 2 1/2 and up. COURTESY OF THE CLIMBING COLLECTIVE/ HILARY SPILLANE.) 

By hook or by crook, Crooked Key Escape Rooms is where families come together to escape the weather and/or share the challenge of finding clues and solving puzzles. Put on your cowboy hat, pin on your badge and come to the rescue at the ol’ watering hole in Crooked Key’s newest game, “Trouble at the Old West Saloon.” It’s one of three options at the escape room this winter.
You don’t need a driver’s license to take control of a bumper car at Howelsen Hill Ice Arena. All you need is to be at least 5 years old. Just when you get the hang of the joystick, you’re likely to find yourself spinning across the ice, bumped aside by one of your own family members. When the overhead lights go out and the colored spots come on, the stage is set for mayhem. For double the fun, sign up for public skating while you’re here.

You’re likely to emerge from whichever indoor playland you choose to find yourself renewed and ready for the winter wonderland that is Steamboat Springs.