Visiting Steamboat Springs in the Summer

Steamboat Lake State park. Pristine water with mountain reflections.

When I think about the high-altitude mountain town of Steamboat Springs, I think of picturesque ski slopes and stunning mountain views. Although this beautiful mountain town does indeed offer powdery slopes, there’s an abundance of summer activities not to be missed.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado offers an Old West vibe rich in history. It’s about a three-hour drive from Denver and a bit out of the way but so worth the drive.

Continuing with my Top 5 Must-Visit Colorado Mountain Towns

In no particular order, these are my top 5 favorite picks for must-visit Colorado Mountain Towns … towns that I have returned to time and again because they’re too much fun not to.

Steamboat Springs is last on my list partly because one of these mountain towns had to be last, and secondly, it’s the town we’ve visited the least. However, it is the first place in Colorado that we traveled to with our new 5th wheel back in 2012, and we have very fond memories of that trip … well, except for the RV flat tire on our return home, but that’s another story.

camping Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Steamboat Lake State Park, #visitSteamboat, #campinginColorado

15 Things to do this summer in Steamboat Springs

1. Camping – Camping options around here are awesome. We loved camping at Steamboat Lake State Park which is located 27 miles north of town. Not only were we surrounded by stunning views in all directions, but it also made a great home base to explore the neighboring area. Anytime I can park near the water, I am one happy camper.

This state park can accommodate most RVs and offers both dry and electric sites. Al and I chose to camp on the peninsula where the sites have no hookups, are definitely smaller, and there’s a large area designated for tents only.

Stagecoach State Park is another big RV friendly campground and is located 17 miles south of town and is a very popular boating lake. I recommend making a reservation for a campsite anywhere near Steamboat Springs. For a full list of campgrounds in the area, here’s a list with a breakdown of all the amenities offered.

Out of all the mountain towns we’ve visited, Steamboat Springs offers some of the best camping options. Frisco (around Lake Dillon) comes in at a close second.

RV camped at Steamboat Springs with mountains in the background

2. Go for a paddle – With numerous lakes in the area and the Yampa River running right through Steamboat Springs, kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding are popular and fun activities. No problem if you don’t have your own water vessel, there’s plenty of rentals around.

Several outfitters even offer rental tubes, so you can relax and float on Steamboat’s natural waterway and then catch a shuttle back to your car.

3. Soak in hot springs – Looking for more relaxation? Old Town Hot Springs is in the heart of downtown Steamboat and is one of the reasons the town is here. Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a bit more of an adventure located on the edge of the Yampa Valley. Both offer a relaxing soak and a dip into Steamboat’s colorful history.

4. Alpine Slide – The first time I ever road an Alpine Slide was on a trip with my daughter to Winter Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. I had never heard of an Alpine Slide before, and let’s just say, one ride is not enough. So much fun! Nothing like taking a chairlift up the mountain and then shooshing down it on a sled like contraption. It’s a thrill!

I’ll admit, I was a little scared and timid the first time, but you can control the speed of your sled as you fly down the mountain. Did I mention how much fun this is?

Steamboat offers two exhilarating slides. The Outlaw Mountain Coaster is the longest coaster in North America at more than 6,280 linear feet. The track near Christie Peak Express descends more than 400 vertical feet and features dips, waves, turns, and 360-degree circles. The Howler Alpine Slide will wind you down a 2,400-foot track through the bends and curves of the natural landscape of beautiful Howelsen Hill. You’ll love the scenic views of downtown Steamboat as you ride the chairlift to the top.

5. Take a hike – I fell in love with the alpine forests, open meadows, beautiful aspen groves, lakes and streams around Steamboat, and my favorite way to enjoy these surroundings was via hiking. Numerous options range from a pleasant stroll along the Yampa River Core Trail, a short jaunt up to roaring Fish Creek Falls, or a couple hours on the Spring Creek Trail. For those more adventurous, you’ll be able to hike a full day or multi-day adventure in the Mount Zirkel or Flat Tops wilderness areas.

A trail at Steamboat Lake State Park, Colorado

6. Mountain biking – The area boasts more than 500 miles of singletrack. There are so many different places to go biking that it can be hard to narrow down. For casual cruising, the Yampa River Core Trail is a 7.5-mile paved multi-use route connecting the mountain and downtown areas.

Scenic road-riding options range from easy pedaling along River Road or Twentymile Road to a challenging hill climb up Rabbit Ears Pass. Then there’s the Emerald Mountain trail system accessible from downtown or the Steamboat Bike Park, which boasts better than 50 miles of gondola-accessible trails on the ski mountain, with rentals available at the base. You can mix and match the area’s various trails to make the right length and challenge for your personal needs.

7. Fishing – The Steamboat Springs area is renowned for its world-class fly fishing. Beginners can take a lesson with any number of outfitters and learn about fly casting, knots, entomology and more. In addition to the Yampa River, there’s an abundance of streams, lakes, and reservoirs for the more experienced angler to check out.

fishing boats at a mountain Lake

8. Shopping, art galleries, concerts, and events – Browse fine art. Steamboat is a creative and artsy town. A leisurely stroll through shops and art galleries is always entertaining. You’ll find paintings, sculptures, blown glass, jewelry, and more. Usually, in early July there’s an art event set at the base of the ski area; Art on the Mountain.

The town is also host to events, concerts and theatrical performances.

9. Visit a museum – Steamboat Springs is known for its great appreciation of cultural heritage. The newly expanded and renovated Tread of Pioneers Museum offers something for everyone. The heart of the museum is a 1901 Queen Anne-style Victorian home with turn-of-the-century furnishings. The Western Heritage Exhibit, home of an extensive firearms collection, traces the areas agricultural history and the story of an infamous outlaw, Harry Tracy. The Tread of Pioneers Museum collects, preserves, exhibits, and shares the history and heritage of the Steamboat Springs area.

10. Golf, Mini Golf, Disc Golf or Sporting Clays – Steamboat Springs has three 18-hole golf courses that challenge every club in your bag. Then there’s mini golf, disc golf, and even golf with a gun aka Sporting Clays.

11. Visit the Yampa River Botanic Park – Go for a walk in the park while enjoying beautiful flowers, trees, and more.  Every garden has a different focus with a unique setting … its own slope, sun exposure, soil chemistry, trees and shrubs which determine what will grow. Since 1992 the Yampa River Botanic Park has grown from a flat, horse pasture into a six-acre gem of over 50 gardens with ponds, benches, and sculptures.

The Park is free and open to the public from May to October. It serves as a place of serenity, as a venue for a summer music and theater festivals, as a site for weddings and similar events, and a resource for individuals. The Park sits at 6,800 feet above sea level, but through the use of carefully developed microclimates supports plants from the entire Yampa River Basin, which runs from 12,000 feet in the Flattops Wilderness to 4,000 feet where it enters the Green River.

Colorado wildflowers #Bokeh #wildflowersinColorado

12. Horseback Riding – Single-day horseback trail rides and multi-day pack trips are an everyday event for local cowboys around here. Visit the Flat Tops Wilderness, Mount Zirkel Wilderness, Routt National Forest, or Howelsen Hill on horseback or ride for two hours or an all-day photo safari or dinner on the trail. You can even ride a horse-drawn wagon for dinner on a ranch.

13. Farmers Market – Fill up on food and fun when you shop, eat and browse at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market. This will give you a great taste of the local culture and unique personality of Steamboat. The farmers market runs from 9 to 2 on Saturdays starting in early June through mid-September.

It’s also a great place to pick up a meaningful souvenir that’s not just regular tourist trap kitsch.

14. Go on a scenic drive

Al and I love exploring the backcountry. So, a scenic drive is a great way for us to take in the surrounding beauty. During our stay, we didn’t venture down any 4×4 roads but did explore the different lakes, campgrounds, and small towns.

One day, during our return to camp, we witnessed a sheepherder and his flock. I asked if it was okay for me to photograph him, but he spoke no English. If I had to guess, I’d say he was probably from South America. I did take a couple of quick snapshots and offered him a cold bottle of water which he seemed thrilled to receive.

You never know what you’ll see when you go off the beaten path exploring.

Shepard, sheep herder, herding sheep in Colorado

15. Dining – The dining options are endless. You’ll find everything from breweries to coffee shops to casual dining to fine dining.

Conclusion

This concludes my posts on my top 5 favorite mountain towns. I assure you, one visit to Colorado is not enough. The Centennial State’s crisp air, endless walking trails, inimitable Western culture, and stunning mountain beauty are just a few reasons to return time and again. I feel very fortunate that I was able to call Colorado home for over twenty years.

Do you have a favorite Colorado mountain town?

camping at Steamboat Lake, Colorado, #Coloradodreaming #RVingColorado #Steamboatliving

 


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39 thoughts on “Visiting Steamboat Springs in the Summer

    1. Thanks! We’ve only been to Steamboat a couple of times, and always planned to revisit for more exploring but life got in the way. Guess we should make it more of a priority 😊

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  1. I really enjoyed this thorough visit to Steamboat Springs, Ingrid. Your comprehensive list of all there is to do is impressive. The photos are truly excellent–the lake with boats, Indian paintbrush and sheepherder photos especially grabbed me. Have never heard of an alpine slide, sounds like fun. Thanks so much for this mountain town, I’m heading backwards to see the other CO towns in what I am certain is a wonderful series.

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    1. Thank you Jet. Colorado is such a beautiful state that it’s one of those places that needs exploring in person to really obsorb its beauty. I’m in northern Wisconsin for the summer and I find myself struggling with photo compositions (I’m sure you understand). The images don’t seem to jump into my camera in WI as easily as they do in CO 😄

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  2. This was a great series on your favorite mountain towns. We were fortunate to visit two of them last summer: Grand Lake and Steamboat Springs. We thought a month in Colorado would be enough to see the state. Oh, how wrong we were. After another two weeks in Cortez this past spring, we’re ready for another trip back.

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    1. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ Total fail at multi-tasking! Or let’s blame it on poor internet connection (which is also true). Now to redo 😏 Thank you for bringing this to my attention!

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  3. Most people thing of Colorado and fall, but I totally agree that Colorado and summer are the best. I so love the wildflowers! We will definitely be checking out Steamboat Springs ( I love that name,) thanks Ingrid…I have enjoyed all these posts!

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  4. Most people thing of Colorado and fall, but I so agree with you that summer is the best. I so love the wildflowers! Definitely will be checking out Steamboat Springs…thanks Ingrid! I enjoyed all of these posts!

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  5. I love this informative series, Ingrid, as I haven’t been east of the Sierras to Colorado. A great list of summer activities, I just love the mountain environments during the summers! I have been happy on several occasions to camp and glamp in Lake Tahoe all over the different areas of the lake. Nothing quite like being in the cool, fresh mountain air during the day. I hope your trip is going well. We are tentatively planning for another winter road trip and hope to stay in the Phoenix area again, longer this time. Happy trails!

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    1. I love Lake Tahoe. So, if you don’t have time to visit Colorado, you at least have a stunning location near home. One of these summers you’ll have the time to venture east of the Sierras with the trailer, and I know just the person to help you out with travel info 😁 Look forward to seeing you this winter and let’s hope the weather behaves this time!

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  6. Thanks again for the info and it will be our last stop. We’ve only been there once and it snowed 4 feet during the week and the national news was there covering it – As you might guess it was a powder skiers paradise.

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    1. Well, let’s hope you won’t have any snow to contend with. There seems to be plenty of things to see and do in Steamboat. Unfortunately, we visited the area only twice and barely hit some of these fun activities. Reason to return!

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    1. Thanks Nance. I’m loving the new iPhone and between you and taking some freebie classes at the Apple store in Scottsdale, I’ve learned a lot and have been using the phone more and more.

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  7. You’re definitely right about needing lots of time to properly explore Colorado. We spent several weeks there over the past year, and we barely saw anything. It is truly a spectacular state! (Though I, too, will take a hard pass on the alpine death trap slide thing. 😂)

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    1. Ah, those alpine slides are so much fun! The first couple of years of our full-timing journey, we spent our summers exploring Colorado and feel we barely touched the surface. Summers meandering around the state are filled with amazing scenery and adventure.

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  8. I devoted a small portion of my misspent youth skiing at Steamboat. It is still my favorite ski town and I’ve been to several. I’ve not visited in the summer however, and that needs to change. Thanks for the guide and the great pictures. Loved the shepherd as well as the flowers! Safe travels!

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    1. You’ll love it in the summer and must put this high on your visit list which I’m sure is growing. Narrowing this list down was definitely a challenge for me considering Colorado has so much to offer. I do love those mountain meadows when the wildflowers are blooming.

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    1. Coming across the shepherd and his flock was definitely a rare treat. We loved watching the dogs work. Now that we’re sitting back in the Midwest, I find myself needing to adjust to the flatness of the land. I do miss adventures in the mountains and it’s been fun going down memory lane via these posts.

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    1. The lakes and streams around Steamboat are definitely worthy of your fishing line. You guys would enjoy visiting this area with the truck camper. And those Alpine slides are so much fun. However, I’ll admit, I was riding the break a lot 😆

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