Exciting Skiing, Snowmobiling, and Coasting with Friends in Steamboat

After our week in Frisco Colorado, it was time to take our roving retirement a bit more north for new and exciting skiing and exploration. Our next stop, Steamboat Springs Colorado, which had long been on our ski hill wish list. We were looking forward to skiing, checking out the old mining town, and snowmobiling. Our first visit to Steamboat was definitely worth the wait.

Getting to Steamboat

Leaving Frisco, we saw a freeway sign foretelling long delays for the poor souls returning to Denver along I-70. I smugly turned off the interstate onto US 40, away from the madding crowd.

The route west and north was nearly deserted for the 2 hours it took for us to get to Steamboat Springs. Along the way, we saw beautiful mountains and snow-covered valleys and several bald eagles, including a nesting pair. Overall, a very pleasant way to pass a Sunday afternoon.

Neighborhood watch

The Town of Steamboat Springs

When friends told me that Steamboat was a typical western ski town, I imagined something similar to Crested Butte, but Steamboat is much bigger. US 40, the Lincoln Highway, is 4 lanes wide going through town. There are a number of older wood and stone buildings, but there are also a lot of modern buildings, too.

Tourism clearly drives a lot of the economy here. There are many t-shirt and trinket shops as well as art galleries. There are even two ski lifts at the Howelsen Hill Ski Area that are accessible from town. This small ski area is used these days for race training and to load the brave up the hill to test their resolve on the big and small ski jumps. A number of bars provide great seating for those anticipating another “agony of defeat“.

The Ski Resort

Unlike every other resort we’ve been to in recent memory, Steamboat Springs Resort is not covered by our ski Epic Pass, so we had to pony up for a 4-day Ikon Pass to enjoy the runs. The resort is medium-sized by US standards. There are 17 lifts covering 169 trails. Many of the runs are blue, i.e. medium skill level, although there are a handful of chutes for the aggressive skiers.

The runs are fun, challengingly steep at times. Unfortunately, it had been a while since there was any fresh snow, so we stuck mostly to groomed routes. During the week, there were no lift lines, but the weekend warriors made us wait a bit on Saturday. Except for dipping down to 0 degrees one morning and some strong, cold winds the next day, our weather was sunny and pleasant. Overall, I’d come back, especially if free lodging presented itself again.

We also took a run on their awesome mountain coaster that is accessible directly from the base area. Not cheap at $25/run, but it was one of those things we hadn’t done for 25+ years. It was quite fun and I would consider picking up the $45 unlimited coaster day pass if I went again.

Snowmobiling Virgins No More

Since we had a couple of free days, we chose to take a snowmobile tour, our first! The tour operator, Saddleback Ranch, picked us and 10 others up at our respective hotels then ferried us about 30 minutes out to the Ranch.

After getting fitted with goggles and helmets, we were given operating and safety instructions by our guide. Not a lot, really. We then played follow the leader through a few valleys and over the hills, trying not to get off track and stuck. One of the other guests failed and tipped their rig over, which took a little while to right. Although snowmobiling is not quiet, I really enjoyed the experience and look forward to another tour in the future. Diana said that after the first half being careful not to crash, it was really fun to open it up a little more and enjoy the beautiful snow-covered mountains and valleys.

Our Steamboat Lodging

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our lodging. Our friends made a trade into a 2 bedroom unit at the Sheraton Steamboat Timeshare. There is literally no closer lodging to the main chairlift. Our friends had tried for years to get this trade, so we are very grateful they chose to share it with us and we very much enjoyed spending the week with them.

As you can see from the pictures below, our room afforded a great view of some adjacent hot tubs and the mountain. There was even a free ski valet just outside so we barely had to carry skis at all.

Some Good Eats in Steamboat

Since our unit had a “pretty full” kitchen (those combo microwave/convection oven units can’t replace a real oven), we only ate out three nights, two of which are worth mentioning.

We visited the Steamboat edition of Aurum, which we loved in Frisco. The local spot was good, but I give the nod to Frisco on the food.

Our last night was spent at Three Peaks Grill, an expansive restaurant that was only open Wed-Sat. We all enjoyed our meals there and I feel it is worth a repeat visit.

A Sneak Preview

I don’t normally telegraph an upcoming travel article, but the view from where I’m writing this is WAY too impressive. You can look forward soon to our ski experience in the Italian Dolomite mountains.

The corner office ain’t bad.

Tell us about your snowmobile experiences

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