Despite the ominous ring to it, the Yampa Valley Curse, as Steamboat Springs, Colo. locals call it, is generally regarded as more of a blessing. Time and time again, when chatting with those who have made this nook of the Rockies their home, the same story is repeated: It started as a summer job or a winter vacation — 25 years later, they’re still here.
After a couple days in this mountain town, it’s easy to see why. With its signature Champagne Powder (snow so fluffy and light, it “fizzes” as your skis cut through), Steamboat’s motto of “come for the winter, stay for the summer” hardly scratches the surface of adventures available all year round.
As a winter destination, Steamboat puts forth dozens of trails and slopes, for beginners as well as advanced skiers (more Olympians come out of Steamboat Springs than any other city in the country). From world-class skiing, to natural hot springs, to a charming town with foodie flare, Steamboat has something for everyone — which is precisely why so many fall under its spell.
Guests will feel like mountain royalty at The Antlers, a Wyndham Vacation Rentals property. These sprawling luxury townhomes have between three and five bedrooms, a chef’s kitchen and ski valet service with heated boot lockers (really, is there anymore more glorious than warm ski boots?). An on-call shuttle makes for a quick trip to the mountain base or downtown Steamboat. Three-bedroom rentals start at $417/night and go up to $1,668 for Presidents’ holiday rates.
2085 Ski Time Square Drive Steamboat Springs, Colo., 80487 970-879-5548
There may be no faster way to the slopes after rolling out of bed than by staying at Trailhead Lodge, another Wyndham Vacation Rentals property, which boasts access to the Wildhorse Gondola just steps from the front door. These single-floor units range from studios to three bedrooms and a den with impressive fireplaces and a grotto-style hot tub on the property that is irresistible after a day of skiing. Rates range from $165/night to $676 in high season.
1175 Bangtail Way Steamboat Springs, Colo., 80487 970-879-9000
Give those legs a break and try a different kind of thrill with a visit to Steamboat Snowmobile Tours. After a quick tutorial, a guide will lead the way through winding snowmobile trails that lead to breathtaking views of the Rockies.
31825 County Road 64 Steamboat Springs, Colo., 80487 970-879-9073
A visit to Steamboat Springs isn’t complete without a trip to the natural hot springs at Strawberry Park. With several pools offering varying degrees of hot and (beware!) cold, an entire afternoon can easily slip away lazing in the springs before making the dreaded scamper back to the warming hut to get dressed. Tip for the adventurous: clothing is optional after dark.
44200 Country Road 36 Steamboat Springs, Colo., 80487 970-879-0342
A Steamboat regular was overheard at the airport raving about bistro c.v. and this cozy restaurant in town lives up to the hype. A warm atmosphere gives way to a seasonal menu that would impress any big city dweller and a dessert list that will knock those wool socks right off. If the Berkshire pork duo is being offered, do yourself a favor and order it straight away.
345 Lincoln Ave. Steamboat Springs, Colo., 80487 970-879-4197
Cafe Diva at the base of the slopes is the place for surf and turf — Rocky mountain-style. An elk tenderloin is accompanied by diver scallops done to perfection. Wine lovers will be delighted by a lengthy list with a few local surprises.
1855 Ski Time Square Dr. Steamboat Springs, Colo., 80487 970-871-0508
Signs for F.M. Light and Sons are dotted along the road into town and this classic Western store, and longtime Steamboat staple, is perfect for your mountain attire needs. The boot selection alone is worth a visit, if for nothing more than retail admiration.
830 Lincoln Ave. Steamboat Springs, Colo., 80487 970-879-1822
Author's note: To the snowboarding good Samaritan, Aaron, in the khaki coat, and his friend who helped guide me to safety when I clumsily found myself at the top of Storm Peak, a black diamond with no way down but...down: thank you for your kindness and patience. If you're ever in NYC, I owe you a beer — or 10.
New to the slopes?
For those who are just starting out with snow sports, January happens to be a great time to learn, thanks to Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, a nonprofit that focuses on expanding skiing and snowboarding and bringing more attention to the many resorts the U.S. has to offer. In conjunction with the event, more than 300 resorts are offering deals and discounts on rentals, lessons and lift tickets. Go to skiandsnowboardmonth.org to learn more.