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*Some of our activities and accommodations were complimentary. These opinions are still our own.
If you are looking for a winter wonderland of a destination, consider going to Steamboat Springs in Colorado. The mountains provide access to numerous winter activities including 3000 acres of skiable terrain. It snows over 330 inches on average each year, and while we were there it snowed around 2 feet over 6 days. Away from the slopes are the springs that give the town its name where you can relax after a day in the snow. We found it charming and truly enjoyed our time in the ski town.
Getting to Steamboat Springs
After deciding we were going to Steamboat Springs we looked at flights into the nearby Hayden airport. The flights were about $200 more per person than flying into Denver. If the price doesn’t bother you or you find cheaper flights, flying into Hayden is definitely the most convenient option. We decided to take advantage of the opportunity to see more of Colorado by flying into Denver.
From Denver, it is a 3-hour drive to get to Steamboat Springs. Coming in the winter you need to keep the snowfall in mind when making plans. You can get a shuttle to make the drive for you, which will cost around $100 each way. This negates the cost savings from flying into Denver but you still get to enjoy Denver. You can always take a Greyhound which departs each day. Keep in mind that the downtown Greyhound station is not well maintained and feels like a homeless shelter, but it will affordably get you from point
A to point B.
We decided to rent a car because I have experience driving in snow, the roads are regularly plowed, and we checked the forecast to confirm it was not going to be snowing on our travel days. We drove a mid-sized sedan, but splurging for a 4×4 will give you more piece of mind if snow showers come. You can always book a rental car and cancel if you need to. The great part about driving is you get to stop along the way at sites like Red Rocks Amphitheater or seeing the view from the Mother Cabrini Shrine.
Where to stay in Steamboat Springs
When we stay in a ski town we want cozy accommodations, and we found the Steamboat Resort by Wyndham Vacation Rentals perfect for that. The hotel is extremely close to the Steamboat ski resort, and they have a shuttle running guest up to the slopes every 20 minutes. While we were there, they were making significant improvements to the clubhouse. Guest should soon be able to enjoy a renovated pool, a new steam room, and hot tubs.
Checking into our rooms, we found a full kitchen and cozy fireplace. This was perfect for our relaxed night-in. We made an easy dinner in our room and watched an episode of the Bachelor while keeping warm by the fire drinking hot chocolate. Waking up and turning on the fireplace before going about a busy day was a perfect way to start.
Staying on a Ranch
After spending a few days in town, we made our way out to Vista Verde Ranch. At the ranch you can enjoy all the activities the area has to offer, taken to the next level with an all-inclusive experience. Amazing meals are taken care of throughout the day. The attentive staff regularly checks in with you to help you organize your activities and make sure all your needs are met. Each day you can choose from skiing, horseback riding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowga, snow tubing, and other activities or you can just relax.
We really enjoyed our dining experiences at the ranch. Each meal was different and tasty. Dining styles varied over the week, including a more casual night followed by live music or line dancing lessons. You sit with fellow guest allowing you to get to know them and share your experiences with each other.
Read about the rest of our stay at Vista Verde Ranch
Things to do in Steamboat Springs
The best part of Steamboat Springs in the winter is getting out and enjoying the snow.
Skiing in Steamboat Springs is really for any level of experience. I found it uniquely suited as a perfect place to learn how to ski or snowboard. For beginners or people who do not want to spend a lot of money skiing, you can go to the Howelsen Hill Ski Area which is managed by the city. You can get access to the slopes for only $25. I don’t think you can do that anywhere else! If you want more advanced skiing and snowboarding, Steamboat Resort has more advanced runs.
While at Vista Verde Ranch, I was able to try skiing for the first time, by going backcountry skiing. Even in several feet of snow it was much easier and more fun than I expected. It’s another great option for someone interested in an adventure in the snow without the need for much speed.
Go to the Hot Springs
There are two main options for enjoying the hot springs in the area. Located in town are the old town hot springs which are the easiest to get to. Here they have a fitness center, showers, massage therapists, a lap pool and several pools at different temperatures. There is also a rock wall that comes out of one of the pools, and 2 water slides.
The Strawberry Hot Springs is located out of town and can only be reached by going on an unpaved road. There are shuttles that will take you to and from the springs. These springs are divided by rock walls into separate pools and are family friendly during the day, and adult-only, clothing optional at night.
The longest roller coaster in North America is located at the Steamboat Resort. For $40 you can enjoy the 10-minute ride that is more than 8280 linear feet and rises up to 40 feet from the ground. You control the brakes, but we recommend letting it go as fast as it can until you are near the end for a real thrill and you zoom through sharp turns and fun dips. Check out this YouTube video of someone riding it in the winter to get an idea of what it’s like!
Ever thought about riding a horse in the snow? Bundle up and go for a trail ride. This is included in your stay at Vista Verde Ranch, or you can visit Saddleback Ranch located just outside of Steamboat Springs.
Activities for our next trip
We couldn’t fit everything into our 5 days in Steamboat Springs. Next time we go, we will definitely try snowmobiling. We had the opportunity but it was cloudy and I wanted to wait to go when I can enjoy the beautiful views going up into the mountains. Among other things, I also want to try ice fishing next time we are in a winter destination. There’s so much left to do, we have to go back!
Steamboat Springs is actually busier in the summertime. We look forward to returning to try out some summer activities as well like fly fishing, mountain biking, and hiking.
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central American, South America and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.