After a few days of fabulous skiing in Winter Park my Colorado trip rolled on to Steamboat ski resort, a.k.a. ‘Ski Town USA’.
Greeted by more fresh snow on the first day we were eager to get our skis on and explore the giant ski area. Steamboat is actually one of the largest ski resorts in Colorado with 1,200 hectares of terrain, 165 trails, and 1,118 metres of vertical. Serviced by 18 lifts the terrain is spread across six peaks, providing a good variety of skiing.
As the visibility was close to nothing we decided to experience some of the resort’s famed world-class tree skiing. European resorts are less renowned for their skiing below the tree line and we found that Steamboat was clearly at another level. It is the resort’s hallmark after all – even characterized as the ‘tree skiing capital of the United States’. With the help of a local guide we discovered secret spots making virgin tracks through the woods. A blessing. It required a bit more concentration than usual during the first couple of runs, but weaving through the trees in untouched powder quickly became addictive! We indulged ourselves with a few breaks to take in the view down to Steamboat below.
From November to mid-April you can ski beautiful groomed slopes, go for the moguls or ski champagne powder in the trees (which I strongly recommend). In fact, the term “champagne powder” was created by Steamboat to describe its very smooth, light fluffy snow – a pure delight to ski. And there’s plenty of it, Steamboat excels in the snow, both in quality and quantity, the resort receiving an average snowfall of nearly 30 feet per season, despite it being at a lower elevation relative to other Colorado ski resorts (but still higher than most in Europe).
Natural Hot Springs
At the end of an active day, we head to Strawberry Park Hot Spring – for a relaxing soak in a natural hot springs mineral pool. Just what our sore muscles need. Located in a rustic mountain setting just outside of Steamboat Springs, the hot springs is natural treasure made of multiple rock pools with varying heat. Not to be missed!
For a change of pace from skiing, and looking for a sense of the Old West we went to Del’s triangle 3 Ranch for a scenic horseback ride over the hills of the snowy Mt Zirkel. In the valley for six generations the ranch is owned by Ray Heid, a local personality and mythical figure of Steamboat. The former Olympic ski jumper and now cowboy still skis 100 days per season. Guided by Ray and his son, Perk, we had a peaceful ride. Gentle and well trained horses took care of us while admiring the vast yet virgin hills around us.
Steamboat Springs is located in the beautiful Yampa Valley of Northwest Colorado the American west is well alive. If we look at all the working ranches surrounding the town. Packed with activities for every interest besides skiing, the resort has, in recent years, attracted more and more people coming not only for the skiing but more and more for the Western heritage of this authentic and genuine town.