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WHAT TO DO IN STEAMBOAT
10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN THE SUMMER
Visit Steamboat for the winters but stay for the summers. Here is our list of the 10 Best Things to Do in Steamboat Springs in Summer.
Steamboat may have trademarked the term “Ski Town USA” but what many people don’t realize, at least until they experience it for themselves, is that summer is what converts many visitors into residents.
It might have something to do with the perfect weather, the endless activities, events, and many ways to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of the Yampa Valley. There’s so much to do that sometimes it’s hard to decide. That’s why we’ve come up with our list of the 10 Best.
#1) Dip a toe in the water
Steamboat was named for the abundant mineral springs that fooled original settlers into thinking it was the sound of an approaching steam engine. Today, these springs remain and have been preserved and developed for year-round use. Don’t miss Strawberry Park Hot Springs for its idyllic natural setting, massage and Wastu therapy. Families love Old Town Hot Springs for the large pools, water slides, and newly renovated recreation center – there’s something for everyone. On a budget? Check out the natural (and free) “hippie hot springs” along the river at Rich Weiss Park, downtown next to the Rabbit Ears Motel.
#2) Saddle Up
Live out your cowboy western fantasies on horseback at Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch offering everything from horseback rides to multi-day summer pack trips. Or swing out to Saddleback Ranch where summer activities range from horseback dinner rides to cattle drives.
#3) Play on the mountain, no skis required
You don’t need a pair of skis or a snowboard to enjoy Steamboat Mountain Resort in the summertime. In fact, there’s even more choices in the warmer months. Discover an extensive network of mountain biking trails, from screaming lift-accessed downhills to miles and miles of single track. Explore a number of hiking trails, or hang out at the base sunning and letting the kids play at the Burgess Creek “beach” where you can put your toes in sand, mountain-style. For the kiddos, check out the Land Up Activities adventure zone at the Base Area including mini-golf, climbing wall, summer tubing lanes, ropes course, trampolines, mini-boats, bounce house, and definitely don’t miss the Outlaw Mountain Coaster—a little downhill action to tide you over until winter.
#4) State of the art
Take in the arts every week at the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Steamboat for a self-guided stroll through Steamboat’s finest art galleries and museums for the latest exhibits, drinks, nibbles, and some small-town socializing. You can have your night at the orchestra but stay in the mountains with performances all summer long under the pavilion nestled at the base of Steamboat’s mountains at Strings Music Festival, including free Music on the Green, Youth & Family events, “Different Tempo” series and classical music from some of the country’s most prolific entertainers.
#5) Cowboy up
Celebrate Steamboat’s ranching tradition at the Steamboat Pro Rodeo, at the Howelsen Hill complex smack dab in the middle of downtown Steamboat. The rodeo has been a tradition since before the town was incorporated over 100 years ago. The rodeo continues to thrive every Friday and Saturday evening from mid-June to mid-August, with PRCA-sanctioned competitions during the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series including additional events from pro bull riding and team penning to team roping throughout the summer.
#6) Like riding a bike
Steamboat may be famous for tree and powder skiing but it’s also world-renowned as a mecca for cyclists. Whether you’re just cruising into town towing your kids (and/or dogs) on the paved Core Trail along the Yampa River, logging miles on Steamboat’s scenic rural routes on the road bike, or escaping into the backcountry on the hundreds of miles of single track on your mountain bike, there is something for everyone. https://routtcountyriders.org
#7) Head on down to downtown
No matter how many times you visit, exploring Steamboat’s downtown never gets old. During the summer, downtown Steamboat’s sweet spot is along Yampa Street for the weekly the Farmers Market and all the great patios along the Yampa River where can enjoy Happy Hour (whatever time of day that might be for you), and watch boaters and tubers float through town. Get your New Orleans spirit on at Sunpies’s Bistrowhere hurricanes are served in plastic cups for that après party vibe. Sample some elevated eats on the elegant patio at Aurum Food & Wine and enjoy watching the river go by. There’s no sound machine necessary at Yoga Center of Steamboat, where the sound of the river will make it that much easier to find your zen. And when you’re ready for something a little livelier, join the party at one of the Free Summer Concert Series shows at the base of Howelsen Hill, where locals love to enjoy some great music in a family-friendly atmosphere, and it’s free!
#8) Take a hike
Sometimes it’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other that will take you exactly where you want to go. That’s especially true in summer when hiking is one of the best ways to explore the beauty of the Yampa Valley. There are a wide variety of trails for everyone, from the quarter-mile jaunt to Fish Creek Falls (that also happens to be one of the most spectacular views around) to all-day hikes to the upper falls, Rabbit Ears Pass, Mad Creek, Quarry on Emerald Mountain, King Solomon Falls (for the more adventurous) or for the Six Best Hikes in Steamboat, visit the Steamboat Chamber Resort Association.
#9) Did we mention, a river (literally) runs through it?
During the summer months, the Yampa River becomes a playground for all kinds of water sports from tubing and white water rafting to fly fishing and paddle boarding, or even dipping your toes in the water to cool off on a hot day. Watch the kayakers surf the wave at Charlie’s Hole (“C-Hole”) next to the library. No matter what you do, leave no trace – pack out your trash and be respectful of this beautiful natural resource. For tubing and equipment rentals and river reports, stop by Backdoor Sports.
#10) Go jump in a lake
We may be landlocked, but nearby Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach State Park both have great day use beaches for the family. Enjoy swimming, sunning, catching crawdads and playing in the water. Rent a boat and tour the lake, do some water skiing or wake boarding, or try fishing. Pearl Lake is a great, quieter option where motorized boats are not allowed, making it great for fishing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, or canoeing.
LIFE’S A BEACH
How to spend time in the mountains and still have your day at the beach.
If you thought of Steamboat as landlocked, think again. Not only are there several large bodies of water close to town, there are plenty of ways to get your feet wet. Whether you want to spend the day boating on Stagecoach Reservoir, swimming and paddle boarding at Steamboat Lake or simply enjoying one of a handful of legit river beaches, there’s nothing better than cooling off on a hot day surrounded by mountains under a cloudless Colorado sky—as if there wasn’t already enough to do in Steamboat during the summertime.
For serious boaters …
Check out Stagecoach State Park, a Colorado State Park located only 17 miles from Steamboat. This 771-acre reservoir includes a marina, boat ramps, campsites, picnic sites and eight miles of hiking trails. Spend the day or camp for a weekend and get out on your boat, paddle board, fish, hike, or charter a boat for the day to wake surf, wake board, or water ski. “We love that it’s so close to town, but it never gets too busy,” says Ben Saari, owner Wake Water Sports. “It’s the best of both worlds.” Saari offers wake surfing sessions on Stagecoach, including equipment, boat and driver. For larger groups, WWS will coordinate an accompanying pontoon boat rental. “It’s a great way to surf the Rockies,” Saari says. “It’s like one endless wave.”
For families with young children …
You can spend hours watching your kids play in the Burgess Creek Beach at the base of Mount Werner as you lounge in an Adirondack chair and kick back with your feet in the cool water. Shallow depths and crystal-clear water are perfect for little ones to splash and play while you soak in the sun and gaze up at the mountain. In downtown Steamboat, the Yampa River is divided by a series of rock features that create small beaches and nice swimming holes. These spots are safe for swimming in mid-to-late summer when the flow is slower and water levels drop. Check out Charlie’s Hole (known as “C Hole”) behind the library and D Hole, behind the Art Depot. Remember to bring river shoes (a rubber-soled sandal that’s securely strapped on) to navigate the rocky bottom and be prepared for cold water—best enjoyed after sunbathing on the rocks to get nice and warm before taking the plunge.
For a day at the beach …
Head 30 miles north of town to Steamboat Lake Park, where Hahn’s Peak and views of the Continental Divide create the perfect mountain backdrop for plenty sun and fun at this 1,053-acre lake. A full-service marina and swim beach make it a great place to spend the day swimming, fishing, paddle boarding, and relaxing. Steamboat Lake Marina offers pontoon, ski boat, paddle board, kayak, canoe, and cabin rentals and there are also several campsites available for people who want a true lake getaway—but without having to sacrifice precious time spent in the mountains.
6 BEST HIKES IN STEAMBOAT
Hiking in Colorado is one of the state’s biggest summer draws. With the beauty of the Rocky Mountains beckoning, visitors of all abilities are drawn to the incredible views. And whether you want to take a quick stroll to the base of a waterfall, scramble on all fours across a rocky, high-elevation ridge, or trek deep into the wilderness with your camping gear, you will not be at a loss for trails in and around Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Regardless of the length or difficulty level, the common denominator of hikes in the area is that they are all stunningly scenic. See for yourself with these six amazing hikes in and around Steamboat.
1. Fish Creek Falls/Long Lake
DISTANCE FROM STEAMBOAT: 4 MILES MILEAGE: .5 MILES ROUND TRIP TO LOWER FALLS, 5 MILES ROUND TRIP TO UPPER FALLS, 12 MILES ROUND TRIP TO LONG LAKE DIFFICULTY: LOWER FALLS: EASY; UPPER FALLS AND LONG LAKE: MODERATE TO DIFFICULT.
The most popular hike in Steamboat, the trail to Fish Creek Falls is accessible for all levels of hikers, with wheelchair access on the Overlook Trail—it’s entirely paved and leads to a bird’s-eye view of the falls. The lower falls can also be reached by walking down a smooth gravel trail for about a quarter-mile amid lush, dense pine trees to a bridge. Here, you can feel the occasional sprinkle as the falls cascade from 280 feet above, glistening and crashing onto the rocks below.
To reach the upper falls, continue on a considerably more rugged and steep trail as it switches back and forth up the forested canyon. The trees—both pine and aspen— periodically open to views of the cascading water and of downtown Steamboat shrinking in the distance. You reach the upper falls after about 2.5 miles and 1,600 vertical feet of strenuous climbing. As you continue to Long Lake, the trail becomes smooth once again and climbs gradually for another 3 miles through colorful meadows. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and pack bug spray and plenty of water if you plan to go to the upper falls or lake. Come back the way you came. Keep in mind this hike is best done early in the morning, as both the trailhead parking lot (which requires a $5 day-use fee) and the trail can overflow with traffic by mid-day.
2. Uranium Mine
DISTANCE FROM STEAMBOAT: 4 MILES MILEAGE: 3.1 MILES ROUND TRIP DIFFICULTY: MODERATE TO DIFFICULT
Sharing the same parking lot as Fish Creek Falls ($5 day-use fee), the Uranium Mine Trail can be reached by walking a few paces back down the road on your right and is usually a lot less crowded than the falls trail. The hike begins on a rocky path that switches back and forth up the canyon through dense mountain shrubs while offering fascinating views of the opposite canyon walls, which, due to being more shaded, are flecked with foliage of a notably more alpine variety. After entering a sort of basin surrounded by aspen trees, the trail ends at the uranium mine, which was built in the 1950s during the Cold War but quickly abandoned. Come back the way you came, enjoying the unique, seemingly all-new views of the canyon as you go.
3. Gilpin Lake
DISTANCE FROM STEAMBOAT: 31.2 MILES MILEAGE: 9 MILES ROUND TRIP DIFFICULTY: MODERATE TO DIFFICULT
Though the trail is north of town, this hike is worth the drive! This trail begins at the Slavonia Trailhead, at the end of Seedhouse Road. The trail winds through thick forests of conifer trees, wildflower meadows, aspen groves and follows Gilpin Creek most of the way up to the lake. Head out early in the morning and pack a lunch to enjoy as you take in the views of the Sawtooth Range and magnificent blue waters of Gilpin Lake. If you are feeling ambitious, this hike can turn into the Zirkel Circle, which continues on to Gold Creek Lake and back to the Slavonia trailhead parking area – 11 miles roundtrip. After a long day on the trail, reward your hard work with some icecream served up at the Clark Store.
4. Hot Springs Trail
DISTANCE FROM STEAMBOAT: 5.5 MILES MILEAGE: 5.7 MILES ROUND TRIP DIFFICULTY: EASY
The destination alone is reason enough to embark on this hike, which leads directly to what many consider Colorado’s most prized natural soaking pools: Strawberry Hot Springs. This being the case, the experience is not complete without packing your bathing suits, flip flops, towels and cash (entrance to the Hot Springs is $15 for adults or $20 on weekends). The trailhead is a little tricky to find and is located at the Mad Creek Trailhead Parking area off of Elk River Road. The Hot Springs Trail is marked FS #1169 and takes you up narrow dirt singletrack with a gentle incline along a small creek through ferns and tall grass. Following the stream, you pass through evergreens and aspen groves before the trail ends at the opposite side of Strawberry Hot Springs from the main entrance. Any soak is more euphoric when you earn it.
5. Devil’s Causeway
DISTANCE FROM STEAMBOAT: 47 MILES MILEAGE: 6 MILES OUT AND BACK OR A 10.5-MILE LOOP DIFFICULTY: MODERATE TO DIFFICULT
Although it involves driving about an hour and a half out of Steamboat, this stunning display of Mother Nature’s handiwork is well worth it. Begin on the north side of Stillwater Reservoir on East Fork Trail No. 1119. Skirting around the reservoir, the trail begins gently, weaving through wildflowers along the relatively smooth dirt path for just under two miles before reaching the glistening Little Causeway Lake. This is a fantastic photo spot, with the jagged line of the Devil’s Causeway visible directly across the lake and to the west, the similarly impressive and rugged Chinese Wall.
This is where the ease of the trail ends, as it then climbs 1,000 feet in just over a mile up rocky slopes to the ridgeline, where you take a left up a steep jaunt to the causeway, a super-narrow land bridge that hovers at 11,800 feet above sea level. Many hikers are gripped by a knee-knocking fear of heights and make this their turnaround point, while others crawl across the Causeway on all fours. It is only three feet wide in places with sheer, 500-foot drops on either side, so definitely do not attempt to cross if it is raining or windy. For those wanting to brave it, after you pass the causeway and continue for just over a mile the trail ends at the Chinese Wall Trail (turn back the way you came for the 6-mile out-and-back option). To stay on the 10-mile loop, turn left on the Chinese Wall Trail, hike about 2.4 miles, taking in glorious views of the Flat Tops in every direction to the Bear River Trail, where you’ll take another left and hike about 4 miles through wildflower meadows back to Stillwater Reservoir.
6. Rabbits Ear Peak
DISTANCE FROM STEAMBOAT: 22 MILES MILEAGE: 5.4 MILES ROUND TRIP DIFFICULTY: MODERATE TO DIFFICULT
This hike to the 10,654-foot Rabbits Ear Peak is known for its wildflowers, which peak in July and August. Located near the Dumont Lake Campground, the trail is mostly Jeep road, which means that you could, in theory, drive much of it with a sturdy off-road vehicle—and there’s a chance you may encounter someone doing just that. But the majority of people hike the trail, which features some moderate climbing until the last quarter mile, which is a rock scramble to the top of the peak. The signature rabbit ears have eroded over time, meaning you may not exactly see that resemblance to a bunny that earlier settlers did. (And please, do not climb them to further the erosion.) But no matter—the view from the top is spectacular. Keep in mind that much of the hike is exposed, so sunscreen and a good hat are necessary. Bug spray is a good idea as well.
FLY FISHING SHOPS
OFFER GEAR AND GUIDES
35 5TH ST
Bucking Rainbow Outfitters
RAFT TRIP OUTFITTER AND FLY FISHING GEAR
730 LINCOLN AVE
Straightline Outdoor Sports
744 LINCOLN AVE
The Creek Company
1280 13TH ST A
Yampa Valley Anglers, LLC
PHOTO CREDIT: SARAH FIEGES
Women are the largest growing demographic in fly fishing and Steamboat Springs is no exception.
Alice Tesar knew she wanted to be a fishing guide from the moment she moved to Steamboat Springs. Not only can women learn to fly fish, says the 28-year old, they can excel at it. In fact, many of the women she’s worked with as beginners were able to pick up the basics very quickly. “My female clients tend to pick things up fast because they’re interested in the details,” Tesar says.
Tesar became interested in fishing when she began guiding canoe trips in Ontario and Quebec. Her first fly rod was an inexpensive model she’d bought at Cabela’s. It wasn’t until she fell in love with and eventually married an angler that her future as a guide was determined. “We got married and moved to Steamboat Springs. I knew right away that I wanted to work in a fly shop.” That’s when she walked into Steamboat Flyfisher, a celebrated fly shop in downtown Steamboat. “I told Johnny Spillane I was a fast learner and asked him for a job,” she says. “That summer I started working in the shop, and before long, I was guiding.” Spillane took a risk on someone who was still learning, she says. “Fly fishing is about more than fishing. There’s a community that comes with it. It’s one of the reasons we decided to settle in Steamboat and start a family here.”
Tesar says women are the fastest growing demographic in fly fishing. “It’s a common misconception that women don’t fly fish, but there are tons of women of all ages who are falling in love with the sport.” For women who are interested in trying the sport, Tesar suggests hiring a guide and letting them know you want to learn with the intention of going out on your own. If that’s not in your budget, find out when free clinics are being offered. Try going with a friend and don’t be afraid to ask questions. “Even if you are clueless and don’t have your own gear, come into the shop and we will get you up. You are our future clientele and we want you to learn and to love being on the water,” Tesar says. “Fly shops should be friendly and not deter you from getting on the water, if a fly shop discourages you find a new one.”
Everyone will tell you the culture in Steamboat Springs is community-oriented. “We’re always looking for ways to help our neighbors,” says Tesar. But don’t get your hopes up – that doesn’t mean the anglers here are going to give up their favorite fishing holes that easily. What Tesar can tell you is that “it isn’t hard to find your own favorite, low traffic, fishing spot – the Yampa and Elk rivers are filled with stunning views and rich in trout.” Mid-week she recommends checking out some of the public water accessible along the Elk River, located just west and north of downtown Steamboat. The Elk River provides lots of what Tesar calls, “sweet pocket water.”
As for the Yampa River, swing on into Steamboat Flyfisher, located on the corner of 5th and Yampa, literally steps from the river, for tips for the day. “One of my favorite parts about working on the river is learning the nuances of each section throughout the seasons.” From water levels to bug life, fishing conditions change quickly, and she understands not everyone gets to fish every day. “Fly fishing is what we do. We’ll be able to point you in the right direction with the right flies.” The Yampa River offers miles of easy access public water such as Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area and Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area. Tesar pointed out that, “summer is a wonderful time for anglers in Steamboat. One day you can fish small brookie water and then the next day catch grayling in the lakes up north.” The Flat Tops and Mount Zirkel Wilderness Areas are a quick drive from downtown Steamboat Springs and offer the angler and the hiker a remote fly fishing experience, some of the best in North America.
Tesar says the skills she’s acquired as a fishing guide have also helped her become a better mother. Her one-year-old son often accompanies Tesar when she goes out fishing, either in the backpack, or playing along the banks of the river. “It’s really taught me about patience, and about not being so caught up in the catching fish, but what it means to be out there on the river with my husband and toddler. Getting to see my son’s wide eyes when we do catch a trout is just icing on the cake.”
To find out more about fly fishing in and around Steamboat, visit the Steamboat Flyfisher website, or give them a call at 970.879.6552.
RAFTING TRIP OUTFITTERS
Bucking Rainbow Outfitters
730 LINCOLN AVE
Backdoor Sports Ltd
841 YAMPA ST
Colorado River Guides
Mountain Sports Kayak School
CANOE & KAYAK TOUR AGENCY
800 S LINCOLN AVE
Yampa Valley Anglers, LLC
AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO THE BEST FALL HIKING AND BIKING
Like most beautiful things, fall in Steamboat is as spectacular as it is fleeting. The Aspen trees don their autumn sequins and the whole valley is aglow in gold, but only for a few short weeks. That’s why there’s no better time of year to explore Steamboat’s network of world-famous mountain biking and hiking trails than in the fall when the temperatures are cooler, the foliage is firing, and the summer crowds have dispersed.
There’s a reason the Yampa Valley’s trail systems are some of the best in the country. Steamboat was the first city in the United States to create a full endowment fund for the maintenance, improvement and development of its trails. Founded in 2016, the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund is managed by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation (YVCF) and under its leadership and discretion, has accomplished a lot in the three short years since its inception. It’s easy for hikers and bikers to donate to the fund; just look for the refurbished parking meters around town on all the most popular trails (including the Yampa River Core Trail, Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill, and the Spring Creek Trail, among others). These meters serve as donation stations to collect money that help preserve and protect the trails and their surrounding habitats—all major credit cards accepted!
We caught up with Helen Beall at YVCF for the inside scoop on new trails, trail improvements, and some hidden gems that are off the beaten path.
Spring Creek Downhill
“This trail is so new it doesn’t even have a name yet,” Beall says of the addition of a downhill specific route to the much beloved (and sometimes too well traveled) Spring Creek Trail. This bike-only directional trail not only alleviates heavy traffic, but creates a top-to-bottom downhill that parallels the uphill route and includes all the fun rollers, jumps and other features (as well as ride-around options for less experienced riders) that makes this one of the most popular mountain bike rides in Steamboat. This smooth, rolling single track zig-zags through Aspen groves, fern covered forest, and several creek crossings with bridges (including one that’s brand new this fall). Whether you like to haul fast or take things slow, now you know it’s all downhill from here.
Dry Lake Campground Trails
Accessed from the top of the Spring Creek Trail or by driving up Buffalo Pass, a network of new, beginner-friendly trails are the perfect place to bring friends and family who want to get a taste of Steamboat’s spectacular fall colors without facing anything too strenuous. “These trails offer fantastic views of the valley and are great for families with kids or for folks who want to take it easy,” Beall says. Fiddlehead and Panorama are new trails that have been built in the past two years. “These are my go-to for visitors because it’s never too crowded and these are easy hikes with great views.”
For a hike that’s close to town and also near Strawberry Park Hot Springs, check out Lower Bear, a four-mile round-trip hike through sage brush and rock outcroppings with ample views of the Flat Tops and the Steamboat Ski Area. “This is a great trail for the fall because there isn’t a lot of shade, so it’s better when the temperatures have cooled down, and it dries out really quickly when other trails are muddy,” Beall says. “It gets you up close and personal with Rocky Peak and Crystal Peak and has really great views. Plus, you can go for a soak at the hot springs when you’re done.”
South Fork Trail
It takes a little drive to get there, but the expansive, remote, untouched beauty of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness area, located in Clark (about 20 miles north of Steamboat) is well worth it. This four-mile (roundtrip) out-and-back trail is relatively flat and perfect for a leisurely stroll where the rewards require little in the way of effort. It’s also a great place for beginner mountain bikers to get a taste of the goods without the need for white knuckles. “This trail takes you up the south fork of the Elk River Valley that’s incredibly beautiful in the fall and has great views of The Dome, a giant granite peak that’s really spectacular,” Beall says. “It’s off the beaten path but so worth it.”
Continental Divide Trail
“A lot of people don’t realize that the Continental Divide Trail, which goes from Mexico to Canada goes right through our backyard,” Beall says. Also known as the Wyoming Trail and just the “1101” there are many ways to explore this trail from multi-day backpacking trips to one-way shuttle routes or just a simple out-and-back with many access points. “Steamboat just received the designation as a Gateway Community to the Continental Divide Trail, which we’re really excited about.” Beall says. There are also multiple routes that run from the top of Rabbit Ears to Fish Creek Falls, Buffalo Pass, and even Steamboat Ski Area. Because of the distance involved, it’s a popular ride with mountain bikers who love the ability to log big miles without ever having to hit the pavement, but shorter sections are ideal for day hikes, too. One way to access the trail is from the Summit Lakes Campground at the top of Buffalo Pass, which does require a high clearance 4WD vehicle. “It’s an adventure in itself just getting to the trailhead, but it’s totally worth it,” Beall says. “The trail goes in and out of treeline with 360-degree views in every direction and elevations as high as 10,000 feet.”
Regardless of which of Steamboat’s 55+ miles of trails that you choose, autumn is the perfect time to explore.
For more information on the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund, go to yvcf.org/trails
DATE NIGHT IN STEAMBOAT SPRINGS
SEPTEMBER 10, 2019 BY STEAMBOAT CHAMBER STAFF
What to do this fall for a couple that is looking for romance? Well, head to Steamboat Springs for an adventurous couples getaway, of course. This is a town that loves fine food, tasty beers, adventure, snow, good causes, and also understands that couples need to be on an Ikon-pass friendly budget. Adults need not look elsewhere for an autumn weekend trip - Steamboat has a few date night secrets that I’m ready to spill, and I promise, they will impress your partner more than a new mountain bike.
Social Secret #1
If you are a social couple, then don’t forget that Steamboat Springs is an event town. There are some annual fall fundraisers that are perfect for a date night and make you feel good about supporting a good cause. Mid-September the ski area throws the OctoberWest beer festival, but consider instead the festival eve’s Friday Night Beer Stroll. Funds support the local Young Professional Network, YPN, which supports professional development, continuing education, and networking. The Community Ag Alliance hosts autumn fundraisers to celebrate the fall harvest in September and October. Their fall events are “Barn to Brewery” Beer Tasting at Butcherknife Brewing, and a five course dinner at Harwigs. Each event showcases food and beer sourced from the Yampa Valley. For a town that loves to give back, date night fundraising is as common as anything else!
Adventure Secret #2
Sometimes date night is really code for continuing the day’s exploits. After all, when in Steamboat, adrenaline adventure doesn’t end when the stars come out. Lucky 8 Ranch in South Routt has a super exciting ATV tour through their bison herd on over 15 miles of trails. Although you could do this during the day with family, I’m most excited by the date night Sunset Tours on Thursday and Saturday evenings. Take turns riding shotgun with your loved one as you maneuver a Polaris through the bison herds and gawk at the gorgeous south valley views. If you would rather be riding a horse than driving an ATV, then consider an afternoon horseback ride at Del’s Triangle 3 followed by cocktails at the Glen Eden Resort. Your two-hour ride will start at 2 p.m. and end just in time for happy hour at the Glen, or further up the road at Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse.
Eating Out Secret #3
Of course, ‘Netflix and chill’ is not a replacement for a magical meal out on the town. Just want to relax? Head to Storm Peak Brewing and order a pizza to share from next door’s How Ya Doin Pizza and Eatz. While the brewery is always hopping (pun intended), it’s sometimes fun to be alone in the crowd. If you want to create a magical evening, then Cafe Diva tucked into Torian Plum Plaza always makes me feel transported to another place. Their attentive service and delicious meals are nothing short of perfection, and their annual “Date Night” Sunday night special is soon to start. Their Date Night special is a three-course meal with an affordable price that doesn’t exclude any of the experience that makes the restaurant so divine.
Music Lovers Secret #4
The Chief Theater programs an eclectic mix of theater, music, and film often at affordable prices. Might I suggest you start your evening directly across the street at Besame with paella for two? Or, to see a bigger musical name, start with two good-for-you Guinness pints at McKnight’s Irish Pub and walk across the parking lot to Strings Music Pavilion. Their fall lineup includes Boz Scaggs, Rising Appalachia, Dave Mason, and Gregory Alan Isakov, with a few mystery dates. There is definitely something special about sitting together with someone and watching the same thing in a shared experience.
The Ultimate Top Secret
I find that the best date night is out on our public lands. My fiancé and I love to drive and leaf peep, watch the aspens blaze from our hammocks, and spend true quality time together - out of cell phone service, just us down a rocky forest road exploring. To kick off the evening, we pick up a couple of beers at Ski Haus Liquors. I recommend the Underwood wine in a can - you shouldn’t bring glass to USFS land anyway, and if you need an extra camp chair you can hop across the street to Ski Haus proper. Once we head through town, we pick up our favorite gyros at Skull Creek Greek and head .... up. Our favorite roads to drive are Buff Pass, the Dumont Lake Campground, and Highway 14. But that’s it! You’ll have to have a romantic couples adventure yourselves to find the best sunset viewpoint. Some secrets are too good to share.