Day Trips From Steamboat Springs

Published on 11/11/2020 by Brad Luth

Welcome to Ski Town USA — also known as Steamboat Springs.

From the roaring Yampa River and majestic San Juan Mountains, which both provide endless outdoor activities, to the natural hot springs, famous Howelsen Hill ski area, Mount Werner, the Routt National Forest, and scenic gondola rides up the mountain, which provides a unique and memorable perspective—it’s not hard to see why visitors fall in love with Steamboat Springs.

As endearing and captivating as our town is, it’s not uncommon for visitors to want to explore other areas of Colorado—which we welcome! The great thing about Steamboat Springs is that you can easily explore other mountain destinations and bustling cities within a quick 2-3 hour drive.

Explore the top day trips from Steamboat Springs and take in Colorado and all of its natural beauty during your stay!

Vail, Colorado

Distance from Steamboat Springs: 93 Miles | 1.45 Hours

A nearby mountain destination, Vail is the perfect high-end retreat for visitors seeking a snowy alternative.

Winter sports are the main draw of Vail, which offers no shortage of charming ski resorts and expertly maintained trails for hitting the slopes. The mountain itself covers 5,000 acres and is the third-largest ski mountain in all of North America. The three main ski areas include Blue Sky, Front-Side, and the Back Bowls—each of which provides a totally different ski or snowsports experience. All told, there are over 200 trails for beginners and intermediate-level skiers and about 100 more advanced skiers. Of course, there’s so much more to Vail than skiing! Snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snow tubing, sleigh rides, and so much more await.

The Vail Village is another draw, and this quaint, Bavarian-inspired destination does not disappoint. The inviting German architecture feels more like a scene in a Disney movie than a trip to the mountains. Peruse the winding, cobblestone streets, and shop and dine to your heart’s content! Top-rated restaurants include Flame, a refined destination for chops and cocktails, Swiss Chalet, a cozy spot for fondue and other inspired bites, and Matsuhisa, a high-end hidden gem for sushi and Japanese-fusion fare.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Distance from Steamboat Springs: 103 Miles | 2 Hours

Situated two hours south from Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge (or simply “Breck” as the locals call it) is a former mining town turned historic mountain destination. It boasts one of Colorado’s largest downtown districts and world-class skiing that makes it a great spot for winter sports enthusiasts.

A picturesque downtown isn’t complete without a “Main Street”, and that’s just where you’ll want to start your downtown Breckenridge adventure. The center of town looks fairly similar to the way it did a hundred years ago. The authentic buildings exude historic charm and will transport you to the peak of the Wild West gold rush. Today, downtown Breckenridge offers more than 200 shops and restaurants, ranging from local hole-in-the-walls to high-end, nationally known retailers. There’s something for every taste or budget in Breckenridge!

No matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something to do in the great outdoors in Breckenridge. Winter visitors will definitely want to hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding. The pristine trails highlight the natural terrain, and the champagne powder is great for first-timers and black diamond pros alike. If you’re looking to tour the mountain, book a dog sled tour, a fun and energetic way to take in the sights and sounds of Breckenridge!

Visitors that come after the snow melts will love the diverse hiking and biking trails offered. Top local trails include Quandary Peak, Spruce Creek, and McCullough Gulch—to name a few. Don’t forget to stop by and say ‘hi’ to the friendly ‘Breckenridge Troll’, a 15-foot tall handmade sculpture which now calls the Illinois Gulch Trail home.

Or, for a unique and historic perspective, enjoy a guided tour of a local gold mine. The mining industry was the lifeblood of Breckenridge and shaped the town as we know it today. Local guides like Washington Gold and Silver Mine or Country Boy Mine are great experts to take you on your mining adventure.

Denver, Colorado

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Distance from Steamboat Springs: 155 Miles | 3.25 Hours

An easy three-hour drive from Steamboat Springs, Denver is the ideal day trip destination for visitors seeking a taste of the city life. The bustling state capital offers no shortage of things to do for groups of any size on any budget.

Families will enjoy the Denver Zoo, which is perfect for sunny summer days, or the Downtown Aquarium, which is a welcomed retreat during the winter or a rainy spring afternoon. Both offer the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature in a lively and safe environment. Other family-friendly Denver attractions include the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, City Park, and the Children’s Museum of Denver.

If you’re traveling without kids, fret not—there’s plenty to do for adults too! Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is a ‘bucket list’ item for many concert enthusiasts, while Coors Field is a must for sports lovers; you can’t beat the mountain sunset views with an evening Rockies game! The Denver Art Museum is a great destination for visitors looking for a bit of culture, while the Denver Botanic Gardens is a serene retreat for connecting with the great outdoors.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Denver’s vibrant and diverse culinary scene. Green Chile is the city’s signature dish, and you can easily find it as a stand-alone menu item or smothered on other classics, like the ‘Smothered Mexican Hamburger’ at The Original’s Chubby’s. Other essentials include the ‘Elk Jalapeno Cheddar Dog’ at Biker Jim’s, ‘mountain-style Pizza’ at Beau Jo’s. ‘Fry Bread Tacos’ at Tocabe, and ‘Rocky Mountain Oysters’ at The Buckhorn Exchange—but we’ll let you research those on your own.

Grand Junction, Colorado

Distance to Steamboat Springs: 192 Miles | 3.25 Hours

Located less than 40 miles from the Utah border on Colorado’s western end, Grand Junction feels like the ‘Wild West’.

Many are surprised to learn that Grand Junction is in the heart of Colorado’s fruit growing district and is well-known for offering the region’s best wineries. Two Rivers Winery & Chateau is the area’s most iconic winery with 15 acres of farmland and award-winning vintages. Graystone Winery, Grande River Vineyards, and Restoration Vineyards are a few other local favorites—though there are over 20 options to choose from! Alternatively, schedule a trip during one of the region’s many wine events, like the Spring Barrel Tasting or the Colorado Mountain Winefest.

If you’re seeking a little fun and games, book a tee time at one of Grand Junction’s many high-end golf courses. The courses here offer unique challenges and absolutely breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery. There’s a course for any skill level, including casual 9-hole courses for a quick game or championship level 18-hole courses for players seeking the full golf experience. We recommend Redlands Mesa Golf Course, Adobe Creek National Golf Course, or Chipeta Golf Course.

Outdoor enthusiasts won’t want to miss Grand Junction’s signature natural attraction—the Colorado National Monument. This national park is home to stunning sheer-walled canyons that cut deep into native granite and sandstone rock formations. The signature ‘red rocks’ are truly remarkable and an iconic feature of the Colorado landscape. Drive 23 miles through this unique landmark for only $15 per vehicle. Alternatively, hike or bike through the park for a rugged afternoon spent in the Colorado desert.

Boulder, Colorado

Distance from Steamboat Springs: 168 Miles | 3.5 Hours

Located just north of Denver, Boulder is a great day-trip destination for a slower pace and access to the wide-open outdoors. Boulder offers a great mix of city conveniences and beautiful natural attractions.

Hiking is a top draw for Boulder. The city’s ideal location at the base of the Flatirons (iconic rock formations synonymous with regions of the Rocky Mountains) provides both unique scenery and a challenging landscape for both hiking and mountain biking. Chautauqua Park is a great starting point for adventurers of all skill levels—not to mention the park’s annual summer concert series that provides great free entertainment.

Speaking of live entertainment—Boulder offers plenty of that as well! Boulder Theater is the area’s premier destination for national acts, ranging from musicians to comedians and more. Fox Theatre is a great local alternative that features regional and up-and-coming acts.

Boulder also offers a robust brewery scene and boasts having the second most microbreweries per capita in the country. Boulder is also home to the Brewers Association, a trade group that represents craft breweries across America, and the Coors brand has a huge manufacturing facility just 30 minutes away. Other recognizable names include Avery and Oskar Blues, though there’s plenty of other small-batch craft breweries to be found. We recommend Upslope Brewing Company, Avery Brewing, and Vision Quest Brewing.

These five day-trip destinations are stellar but for us—there’s no place like home!

Whether you want to mountain bike the winding backcountry of Mt. Werner, go fly fishing or rafting at the scenic Yampa River Botanic Park or Steamboat Lake, relax and unwind in the old town hot springs, or wine and dine in Downtown Steamboat Springs—we can help you plan the mountain vacation of your dreams. Visiting the Yampa Valley will be full of excitement and memories you won’t forget from Strawberry Park Hot Springs to the famous Steamboat Ski Resort, there is so much to see and do. A quick day trip or getaway is the perfect way to explore the surrounding towns, state parks, and even try out a few hiking trails on the outskirts of Steamboat. 

Download our FREE Insider’s Guide for top tips and tricks from Steamboat Springs locals. To find the perfect vacation rental for your stay, click here.