Things To Do This Fall In Steamboat Springs – Updated For 2020
Published on 09/18/2020 by Brad Luth
Although there is no bad time of year to visit Steamboat Springs, Colorado, there is no doubt that fall is absolutely magical. This is when the Yampa Valley shimmers scarlet, orange, and gold, with days that are crisp and filled with sunshine. It’s a spectacular time to celebrate the outdoors and dig into the local Rocky Mountain culture. There are amazing indoor and outdoor destinations, delicious restaurants, and fantastic attractions to take advantage of and soak it all in. The Town of Steamboat Springs is also just 157 miles west of Denver, allowing for a fabulous, scenic fall drive to extend your Colorado excursions if you choose to add a road trip to your getaway! Closer to “home”, here are some of the best activities available in Steamboat Springs in the fall.
The Relaxation Of The Natural Hot Springs
One of the best things to do in Steamboat during the fall is to discover the natural hot springs that we’re famous for. There are two locations available throughout the year. They are located in a valley in the mountains and only five minutes away from downtown. Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a decadent retreat with steamy pools lined in stone. During the autumn, the sight of the yellow aspens surrounding the hot springs is breathtaking. There are several pools with different temperatures to accent the crisp mountain air. (Currently open by reservation only.) Eight natural mineral pools can be found at the Old Town Hot Springs. Everyone will enjoy the fitness center and the 230-foot water slides. Visitors and locals alike have been relaxing in the geothermal hot springs since the 1880’s. (Reopening September 23 with strict capacity restrictions in place.)
The Heavenly Gondola Rides
One of the best ways to see the glory of Steamboat Springs in the autumn is by taking a gondola ride high above it all at the Steamboat Ski Resort. Both couples and families will revel in the stunning scenery. The gondola comfortably seats eight passengers as it climbs the slopes of Mount Werner. This is one of the most popular family-friendly tourist attractions in town! The vegetation changes as the altitude increases, and this is where the rabbits and deer live. The colorful aspens are part of the journey and the end of the ride features a spectacular view of the Flattops Wilderness area and the Sleeping Giant from the Yampa Valley sun deck. There are trails for hiking and mountain biking, as well as mountain bikes for rent, and ideal backcountry locations for a romantic picnic. (The gondola is currently closed. Please check for updates before your visit.)
The Glorious Foliage Flight
A spectacular view is available from the air. The Zephyr Helicopter Company offers a trip through the Western sky with amazing views of the colorful landscape and the Steamboat Springs ski area below. This includes the shimmering Steamboat Lake, Mt. Werner, Gore Range, The Never Summer Mountains with their frosted tips, and all the other signature sights. For a more docile feeling, a hot-air balloon ride reveals the wonders of Yampa Valley. This lovely excursion includes a flight certificate, a champagne toast, and a continental breakfast.
The Lovely Yampa River Botanic Park
This beautiful six-acre park is actually a botanical garden encompassing six lush acres. The garden was created at a 6,800 foot altitude right outside of Steamboat Springs on Pamela Lane. The park is overflowing with unique gardens that thrive in the area, including the Hummingbird Garden, the Children’s Garden, the Culinary Herb Garden, and the Butterfly Garden. This incredible park is one of the most romantic destinations in all of Steamboat Springs, and home to the famous Yampa River Core Trail. The headquarters for the park are located at the Trillium House. Both the patio and the Emerald Room can be rented for special events. The park even offers special classes, stories for children, and musical events. (Open with COVID-19 guidelines involving social distancing and mask requirements.)
The Excitement of Biking
There are a wide variety of trails perfect for biking in the fall – one of the area’s most popular outdoor activities, and an extraordinary way to celebrate the colors of autumn. The Steamboat Bike Park offers almost 2,000 feet of downhill-flow and gravity-fed trails complete with bridges, berms, man-made jumps, rollers and rocks. The lift makes access to these trails extremely convenient. This is excitement – Steamboat Springs style. For the less daring, there are numerous gorgeous trails to opt for, such as the Spring Creek Trail. This trail goes in the direction of Buffalo Pass. The views of mossy green pines and yellow aspens provide an unforgettable experience. The Emerald Mountain Trail System is another popular network to consider. Bike rentals are easily available.
The Wonderful Signature Events in Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs offers everything from aircraft displays to nationally recognized performers and amazing aerobics shows. There is a Wild West Air Fest, and The Steamboat OktoberWest, with a beer garden featuring in excess of forty brewers from Colorado, as well as the I Love Beef Cook Off and an incredible selection of live bands. The autumn excitement includes the Yampa Valley Crane Festival, the All Arts Festival, and many more activities throughout the fall. (Due to COVID-19, several events are being canceled or postponed. Please check with the Steamboat Chamber for up-to-date information.)
The Inner Cowboy in Everyone
Steamboat Springs is not only a proud community of ranchers, it is genuine cowboy country. There are so many different ways to experience the true Western heritage of the city. F.M. Light & Sons offers Johnson & Held belt buckles, and any wardrobe can be brought to life with an authentic Stetson. These fine establishments have been dressing the residents of Steamboat Springs in the finest of Western threads since the year 1905. Once everyone is dressed and ready in their new duds, take a trip to the Saddleback Ranch for a spectacular autumn horseback ride (or sleigh rides later in the season when the snow starts to fall). This is the time to meet all the calves and cows and gain a whole new new perspective on the magnificent foliage.
The Best Hiking in Colorado
Steamboat Springs has built a reputation for their gold-medal hiking trails. It is incredibly easy to access sensational views of the woodlands draped in cloaks of gold, amber and crimson. The Mountain Quarry Trail offers four miles of exquisite views of downtown and majestic Mt. Werner. Hikers can even go to the very top of the Continental Divide for an awe inspiring panorama. The views from the Rabbit Ears Peak Trail are beyond words. This four mile hike should not be missed.
The Wilderness of Fish Creek Falls
The true mountain wilderness is just a nice stroll from downtown Steamboat Springs. This is where Fish Creek Falls spills the clearest of alpine water down the 280-foot Fish Creek Canyon in an astonishing display. Visitors will enjoy ice climbing, snowshoeing, hiking, and photography. There is nothing quite like a charming picnic in the fall. There is a longer hike at the Routt National Forest that is definitely worth the extra effort. The falls start to freeze during the late fall and there many wonderful tours to show visitors the very best spots. Any couple or family looking for a little adventure in Steamboat Springs should visit this beautiful spot.
The Indescribable Charm of Off the Beaten Path
Off the Beaten Path is a charming and sensational bookstore in Steamboat Springs. The store provides both an excellent selection of books and delicious coffee. They carry all of the book genres including fiction, New York Times best sellers, young adults, memoirs, Indie, and history books. The book corner for children is absolutely adorable and offers a wide selection of literature, especially for kids. Visitors can purchase chocolates, puzzles, games, candles, and greeting cards – all of which are sensational gifts to take back home. The coffee brewed by Off the Beaten Path is only second to their amazing selection of pastries, smoothies, soups and, quiches. They even offer beer from the Butcherknife Brewery, one of the best local breweries.
The Big Catches of the Rivers and Lakes
The rivers and lakes in Steamboat Springs are where many people have reeled in the catch of a lifetime. The serene fishing experience is further enhanced by the kiss of fall on the landscape. The locals flock to the Yampa River for the fly-fishing, and optimum trout fishing can be found at the Steamboat Lake State Park just below the towering Hahn’s Peak. During the fall, the area is surrounded by forests streaked with orange and yellow. The local fishing shops offer excursions, tips, and gear. These same rivers also make for epic rafting in the off-season!
The Riveting Steamboat Art Museum
The art museum is in downtown Steamboat Springs close to the Yampa River on Lincoln Avenue. The art museum opened their doors in the same building as the First National Bank in 2005. The goal for this historic building is to gather sensational artwork so it can be viewed by the public. The museum attracts families and couples with an interest in the culture and art of Northwestern Colorado. The exhibits include watercolors, paintings, quilts, and photographs. Educational programs are available including museum tours, workshops, classes, and a Student Gallery for the children. (Masks are required and sanitation stations are throughout the museum. Visitor capacity is 35.) You may also want to consider a stop at the Tread of Pioneers Museum for a step back in time into the history of the region! (Currently open on Friday afternoons only.)
The Beautiful Sounds of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra
The Steamboat Symphony Orchestra was a modest ensemble that began in 1991. The orchestra has since transformed into a well respected and thriving symphony due to the enthusiasm and talent of the members. The orchestra is composed of local professionals with a lot of experience and talent. There are both a Woodwind Quintet and a String Quintet. The orchestra performs at numerous events in Steamboat Springs. This is a marvelous destination in the fall provided the visitors check the performance schedule first. The musical education program has been well organized, is enjoyed by both adults and children and loved throughout the community. The traditional string education and Youth Music Immersion Weekend both offer scholarships.
Get A Little Winter Fix In The Fall
While you await the appearance of that Champagne Powder that Steamboat skiers go wild for, you can quench your winter urges just a bit with a visit to the Howelsen Ice Complex – the only ice rink in Steamboat! Here, visitors can enjoy bumper cars on ice, figure skating classes, hockey leagues, private rentals, and public skating on an Olympic-sized rink indoors. (Plans to reopen for public skating sometime in late September or early October.)