Things To Do In Steamboat Springs This Winter (Other than Skiing)
Published on 12/04/2020 by Brad Luth
If you’re planning a vacation in Steamboat Springs this winter, you’ve probably already heard that the area is home to six peaks, and therefore some of the finest skiing Colorado has to offer. Steamboat Ski Resort and Howelsen Hill ski area are two of the most known names around this ski town. However, if you’re not into strapping boards to your feet and flying down the side of a mountain, however—not to mention standing in long lines in the frigid whether—you’re in luck. This spunky town not only offers cross country skiing and a champagne powder backcountry experience but also plenty of other delights to tempt anyone who’s lucky enough to visit during the highly sought-after chilly season. Read on to explore the many things to do in Steamboat Springs winter.
Old Town Hot Springs
Though this venue is often billed as a water park, it’s actually open year-round—and with good reason. Several of the natural hot springs run at temperatures of over 100 degrees, making them both comfortable and therapeutic no matter what the weather. Note that some, like the 98-degree Main Pool, are treated with chlorine to maintain proper sanitation for the spa’s many visitors. If swimming doesn’t strike your fancy, Old Town also offers massage therapy, a full and extensive gym, and yoga classes. You can even book reservations (and pay in full) through their online portal. For more details, visit their website. You could also try visiting Strawberry Park Hot Springs if you are unable to get reservations.
Tread of Pioneers Museum
The heart of this multifaceted attraction is a 1901 Queen Anne-style farmhouse, showcasing the unique history of Steamboat Springs. Since the town was first settled in 1900, the house is nearly as old as the subject of the many stories housed within its walls. Learn all about the Native Americans who first shaped the land, the advent of winter tourism in the area, local agriculture, and much more. Worried the little ones will be bored? Try the scavenger hunt or one of the kid-friendly hands-on exhibits. Check out the website to learn more.
Fish Creek Falls
This hike offers a number of options as far as length and strenuousness are concerned (check out this handy guide for more information and directions to the trailhead), but in winter, the shortest option will likely be your best bet—particularly if you have children in tow. No matter which you choose, though, the silvery frozen falls are a wonder to behold. As a bonus, the trails are often less crowded in winter. Enjoy hiking, biking, or running the trails of the rocky mountains, you won’t be disappointed.
For an idea of what to wear hiking use this guide.
Rabbit Ears Pass
What’s that? The name sounds suspiciously like a ski trail? Well, to be fair, this popular terrain does attract a solid number of Nordic skiers—but fear not, it provides an excellent opportunity to go snowshoeing and snowmobiling as well. When going to snowshoe and snowmobile the 3.7-mile loop boasts breathtaking views of the Yampa Valley, and the exercise will make you feel like you’ve earned the hot toddy you’ll enjoy later on by the fire. For more details on what you should bring, check out this resource.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Many of these balloon tours operate throughout the winter, giving participants the chance to view the stunning snow-covered ski areas and landscape from a unique vantage point. For an unforgettable experience, check out Wild West Balloon Adventures. Their 45-minute excursions don’t come cheap, but they include a continental breakfast and post-ride champagne celebration to help take the edge off. Note that all trips are weather permitting—if it’s snowing, raining, or exceptionally windy, the tour won’t operate that day—so plan ahead carefully if you opt to give it a try.
If your vacation rental is located near one of the famed peaks of Steamboat Springs, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of one of the non-skiing-related activities that they offer. Snow tubing is a surefire way to enjoy exhilarating fun with the whole family and at a fraction of what it would cost to outfit the group with ski rentals, gondola rides, and lift tickets for the day. Yee-Haw Hill at Saddleback Ranch is a tempting option—in addition to providing free transportation to anyone who buys a two-hour ticket, the hill comes equipped with a tube-tow lift system. The hardest part will be getting everyone to leave.
Speaking of Saddleback Ranch, they also offer evening sleigh rides, complete with a dinner package and post-meal roping demonstration. If you’ve never ridden a horse-drawn sleigh across a blanket of snow beneath a sky salted with bright stars, now is the time to check this quintessential winter activity off your bucket list. Blankets are provided, but it’s a good idea to bundle up anyway—just be sure to dress in layers so you won’t overheat during the indoor portion of the evening. The ranch also offers several other activities as well. Such as winter horseback rides, snow tubing, sleigh ride dinners, and snowmobiling. To learn more about this excursion, visit the ranch’s website here.
Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival
If you happen to be visiting during the period between February 3rd through the 7th, be sure not to miss the annual winter carnival. This event is undoubtedly unlike any other carnival experience you’ve ever had, featuring many brilliant strokes of local color alongside the traditional parades and fireworks. It also has the distinction of being the oldest continuous winter celebration west of the Mississippi River. Find out what makes this carnival stand out from the rest during your stay in Steamboat Springs. For more details, visit the Chamber of Commerce website.
Channel your inner Peggy Fleming with a day at the Howelsen Ice Complex. The arena boasts an Olympic-sized rink, which plays host to several area hockey leagues, as well as free-skate sessions and Bumper Cars on Ice. To learn more about their hours and the various offerings, take a look at this visitor’s guide. If indoor skating doesn’t sound wintry enough to suit your tastes, there are a number of ponds and lakes in the region that are suitable for skating as well.
Whether you decide to go for just one of the above options or have time to work your way through the entire list, your stay is sure to be enhanced by the experience. From downtown Steamboat Springs to horseback riding, snowboarding, and snowshoe tours you will not have time to be bored. If you are feeling really adventurous, look into dog sledding or going on a scenic snowmobile tour. Good luck with your planning, and we hope you have an unforgettable stay in one of North America’s favorite ski towns.