Top Free Things To Do In Steamboat Springs

Published on 10/22/2019 by Brad Luth

A mountain getaway seems like a dream for many, but rest assured that taking a sky-high vacation isn’t limited to the lucky few with a sky-high budget. In fact, Steamboat Springs vacation is more affordable than you might think, especially when you consider all of the great FREE things to do in the area!

From lively tunes with a stunning mountain backdrop to experiencing the great outdoors, check out a few of our favorite free things to do in Steamboat Springs.

Free Steamboat Springs Events & Attractions

From free movies in the park to free concerts downtown—there’s plenty to see and do in Steamboat Springs. These free events are just waiting to be explored!

Free Summer Concert Series

The free summer concert series has been a Steamboat Springs tradition for more than 25 years and has grown in popularity each and every year. The free tunes takes place at the scenic Howelsen Hill area and run seasonally from the end of June through Labor Day weekend. These events are family-friendly and easily accessible via the Steamboat Springs City Bus system, which offers free rides about every 20 minutes by car with free street parking downtown, or via the Yampa River Core Trail. Stay up to date with upcoming performances at https://keepinitfree.com.

Movies on the Mountain

Pack a few blankets, some salty snacks, and take the family to Gondola Square for a free movie on the mountain! Offered seasonally in the summer, the city hosts free family-friendly movies at sunset. The features vary weekly and have included favorites like Finding Nemo, Toy Story, The Lego Movie, E.T., The Goonies, and many more! The beautiful mountain backdrop and impressive giant screen create an atmosphere that you won’t soon forget.

Free 4th of July Parade & Fireworks—Cowboys’ Roundup Days

Photo Credit: movingmountains.com

There’s nothing like summertime in Steamboat, and the Fourth of July is inarguably the most magical time of all. The mountainside comes to life with the Annual Cowboys’ Roundup Days, a weekend-long celebration of independence and good old fashioned family fun. The event takes over downtown Steamboat Springs for a giant block party that includes several fun events including the Pro Rodeo Series, free concerts, various sporting events and competitions, arts and crafts, family entertainment, blow-ups for the kids, the famous Pioneer Day Block Party, a lively parade, and fireworks—of course! The entire week is packed with free things to do for visitors of all ages.

Steamboat Art Museum

 

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Address: 801 Lincoln Ave, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487

Hours: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday; Closed, Sunday – Monday

Phone: (970) 870-1755

Website: https://www.steamboatartmuseum.org/

Take in a bit of local culture during your trip to the Steamboat Art Museum. The museum is free for the public and features an array of rotating exhibits and events throughout the year. Previous showcases include the “OPA National Exhibit”, “Imagining the West”, “Colorado Nature Photography Exhibit”, “Intaligio Exhibition”, and the annual Plein Air series. Visitors can see a variety of mediums, from oil and acrylic to photography, watercolor, and many more. Seasonal events at the museum include lecture series from artists, hands-on workshops, open studio hours, and more. The museum is free to visit, though donations are welcomed and appreciated.

Free Outdoor Activities

As one might imagine, there are several ways to get out and enjoy the great outdoors in the mountains, many of which can be enjoyed for no charge! Check out these free outdoor activities in Steamboat Springs.

Float the Yampa River

 

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Thought there’s no shortage of tour guides in Steamboat Springs, navigating a solo river float is fairly easy and a great way to make the budget stretch. The roaring Yampa River is the ideal spot for a run and adventurous float through the winding mountain woods.

Here are a few tips to make the most of your river float adventure:

  • Research free “put in” spots near your vacation rental and map out your course. You’ll want to be mindful of transportation to and from your drop off and pick-up spot.
  • Purchase or rent floats for the trip. Floats are fairly inexpensive, just make sure they are sturdy enough for a trip down the river.
  • Pay attention to river water levels; this can impact water levels, water speed, and the overall safety of the trip. Water levels below 700 cubic feet are considered safe for recreation.
  • Pack the essentials—sunscreen, water-friendly shoes, sunglasses, and any important personal items. Coolers are permitted but they cannot be styrofoam.
  • Plan on departing around lunch. The water will be warm enough for a comfortable float and the rivers won’t be quite as busy from late-afternoon traffic.

Hiking The Yampa River Core Trail

Photo Credit: Tony Lyhane via Flickr CC2.0

Hiking is one of the mountain’s most popular free activities—and it’s not hard to figure out why! It’s easy for guests of any age or experience level, and all you need is a sturdy pair of shoes and a little patience to navigate your way through the trails.

The Yampa Core Trail is a natural place to start. It’s easily accessible from downtown Steamboat Springs, sits right at 7.5 miles in length—enough for a good workout but nothing too challenging, and features several scenic stops along the way, including the picturesque Yampa River Botanic Park. This expansive six-acre park is a true hidden gem, with over 50 meticulously maintained gardens, rolling horse pastures, and plenty of wide-open space with views of the famous Yampa Valley.

Burgess Creek Beach

 

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Just because you’re not at the beach doesn’t mean you won’t have a chance to stick your toes in the water. In fact, you can do just that at the Burgess Creek Beach, a natural spring and beach area at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. the cool, refreshing water is the perfect play place for kids on a warm summer day and a great place for adults to kick back and relax at the base of the mountain. Take in the stunning views, catch up on your favorite book, or have a beachside picnic at this public beach area.

Explore Emerald Mountain

 

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Steamboat Springs visitors seeking a short and scenic hike will appreciate the straightforward out and back trail at Emerald Mountain. Rated as an easy to moderate trek, the trail is well defined and takes hikers on a 3.8-mile journey by beautiful wildflower fields and bubbling mountain streams. This particular trail is pet-friendly and is most enjoyable April through October.

Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area

 

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Colorado mountain visitors seeking wide-open wilderness will feel right at home at Mount Zirkel. This expansive protected forest offers more than 150,000 acres of natural green space for exploration. The wilderness area is home to the headwaters of the Encampment, Elk, and North Platte Rivers, in addition to over 70 lakes, the famous Mount Zirkel, and is part of the larger Routt National Forest. Whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and hiking are all popular wilderness activities, particularly on the main trailheads located in the forest. Beaver Creek, Buffalo PAss, Newcomb Creek, North Lake, and Seven Lakes are just a few of the popular trails for avid hikers.

Go Chasing Waterfalls—Fish Creek Falls/Fish Canyon Creek

 

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Embrace your inner ‘90’s voice and go chasing waterfalls. Specifically, Fish Creek Falls, which are a true natural wonder. Sitting at an impressive 280-feet, this waterfall is the tallest on Mount Werner and the second tallest in all of Colorado.

The trek to the top of the falls is strenuous, with a ~1,600-foot elevation along the 2.5-mile trail. Expect to spend at least three hours on the trail if you want views of the upper falls —which is well worth the effort.

The lower falls are much more beginner-friendly, with an easy 0.5-mile round trip that can easily be completed in under half an hour. Access the falls from U.S. highway 40, where parking is provided.

The Rocky Mountains offer plenty of free fun for visitors of any age. What are you waiting for?

Check out free “Insider’s Guide” to Steamboat Springs to start planning your epic mountain getaway!