Guide for relocation to Steamboat Springs, CO

Year round recreation

Settle in Steamboat Springs and you won’t find a better town for four seasons of outdoor fun. Outdoor recreation follows the sun here, from countless snow sports to pursue in the winter — including alpine, Nordic, telemark and backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding and more — to such summertime pursuits as golfing, fishing, hiking, backpacking, bicycling, paddling, lake-based activities and more.

Sandwich these around spring and fall pursuits, from whitewater kayaking and rafting  to hunting, fly fishing and fall foliage hikes, and you truly have a home where you can take advantage of every outdoor activity under the sun, all during lunch break right outyour back door.

Steamboat Springs features more than1,000 square miles of public lands, including the 520,000-acre Routt National Forest, four state parks and two wilderness areas.


  • Steamboat Ski Area has nearly 3,000 skiable acres on six peaks, accessed by 165 trails.
  • City-owned Howelsen Hill Ski Area is home to the 100-year-old Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which has produced more winter Olympians than any other town in North America – 88 and counting. The ski area features three lifts, a complete ski jumping complex, and world-class cross country ski trails, and regularly hosts international Nordic events.
  • The city-owned Howelsen Ice Arena features an Olympic-sized sheet of ice, offering programs and open-to-the-public sessions for figure skating, hockey and more.
  • Steamboat Springs has five world-class Nordic ski areas within a 30-mile radius, offering more than 120 kilometers of groomed trails.


  • The Yampa River through the heart of downtown offers some of the best kayaking, canoeing, and tubing in the state (other nearby rivers include the Colorado, Elk, Eagle and Green)
  • Spring is also the time to wet a line in the Yampa with nymphs or streamers for world-class trout fishing (many locals fish and ski in the same day).
  • With trails often too damp for mountain biking, many locals take to the region’s meandering county roads for world-class road biking.


  • Warm days and cool nights are ideal for mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, fishing, golf, tennis, boating, swimming, horseback riding, waterskiing, tubing the river, stand-up paddleboarding, Gondola rides, scenic drives and more.
  • Steamboat has two sets of natural hot springs to soak in, including the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center downtown and Strawberry Park Hot Springs seven miles out of town.
  • Steamboat hosts many large-scale bicycling events, with the 2013 schedule including the Steamboat Stinger, Tour de Steamboat, Ride4Yellow, Steamboat Enduro, Steamboat Stage Race and more.
  • The Steamboat Springs Running Series is Colorado’s biggest, with 13 runs, including the popular Steamboat Marathon and new Steamboat Stinger half and full mountain marathons.
  • Steamboat Lake, Pearl Lake, Stagecoach and Yampa River state parks offer abundant camping, boating and fishing.


  • Changing aspen leaves make for picturesque drives and hikes.
  • Hunters come in search of plentiful elk, deer and antelope (Routt County has one of the largest elk herds in the nation).
  • Anglers hit area waters for world-class fly fishing.
  • The mountain and road biking often stays great through October and into November.
  • Bruce’s Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass offers the earliest cross-country and skate-skiing trails in the country.

Steamboat’s hot springs

HotSpringsSteamboat Springs earned its named from early pioneers for the “chugging” sound of its springs. Experience them for yourself year-round in two of the best hot springs in the state: The Old Town Hot Springs downtown and Strawberry Park Hot Springs a short drive away. Nonprofit Old Town Hot Springs at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue downtown (, recently underwent a $5 million expansion, with another $3 million expansion in the works adding an additional 10,000 square feet of amenities to its current 19,000-square-foot facility. It draws 70,000 visitors a year and has 5,000 annual members, all enjoying three spa pools, a large hot pool with a climbing wall, two kiddie pools, a lap pool, two waterslides, a full fitness center with exercise classes and equipment, a snack bar and three massage rooms.

“It’s been a community asset and gathering place since the late 1880s when the first small bathhouse was built,” says executive director Pat Carney. “It’s one of town’s best and most unique amenities.”

For a more rustic setting, Strawberry Park Hot Springs ( seven miles out of town is also open year-round, letting you experience the healing powers of its soothing waters just as the Ute Indians once did. A variety of different temperature pools, complete with shoulder-caressing waterfalls, are situated beside a creek you can plunge into to cool off, with cabins and camping spaces available for rental. The springs also offer a full array of massage services to further relax muscles sore from an outdoor day in Steamboat.

Staycations and camping

While people move to Steamboat for the quality of life, locals also find it easier than ever to get even more immersed in wilderness, be it staying at a local guest ranch, car camping or backpacking.

Guest Ranches Steamboat’s wealth of nearby guest ranches offer the chance to experience the true Old West, with, of course, the benefit of modern conveniences. A typical day includes waking up to a great breakfast then trail riding, hiking, relaxing and more before winding down with a world-class meal. “A unique benefit of ranches in Northwest Colorado is having such a vibrant mountain town like Steamboat so close,” says Courtney Frazier of the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association. Following are a few favorites:

Elk River Guest Ranch: Private lessons and rides, evening wagon rides and customized unguided hunting packages to public lands. Info: 800-750-6220, Home Ranch: Offers award-winning American dude ranch vacations that appeal to every generation. Info: 970-879-1780,

Horse & Hen Farmhouse Inn A bed & Breakfast on a fifth-generation working ranch where guests have the opportunity to milk a cow, feed the many animals, garden, bird watch, or simply relax in a peaceful setting with beautiful views. Info: 970-620-3055,

Vista Verde: A luxury dude ranch (AAA Four Diamond) with a diverse offering of activities, amazing food and Western hospitality. Info: 800-526-7433,

Trapper’s Lake Lodge & Resort: Located in the heart of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area with quaint log cabin accommodations and horses, boats, canoes, general store, restaurant and more. Info: 970-878-3336,

Three Forks Ranch: A high-end respite from the real world and modern mountain getaway with award-winning spa, fine dining, fly fishing, horseback riding and more. Info: 970-583-7396,


If you want to rough it a little more, head into the wilds at any number of world-class car-camping or backpacking options. Popular car-camping spots include Stagecoach and Steamboat lakes, which both offer full hook-ups and more rustic spots, complete with full marinas and swim beaches. Other popular lakes for camping include Hahn’s Peak, Pearl, Sheriff, Elkhead, Hog Park and more. Backpacking options also abound, with the Flat Tops and Mount Zirkel Wilderness Areas offering easy, weekend-friendly hikes to majestic high alpine lakes.