Steamboat Springs is about to be new and improved.
Between now and the 2024 season, the mountain and ski destination will pump $200 million dollars into renovations, including a freshly designed base area (with multi-vendor food hall), a new bottom-to-top gondola, a learning center for beginner skiers and riders, and 650 acres of new terrain as part of its Full Steam Ahead transformation.
As Steamboat continues its evolution and growth, it’s quickly finding itself being talked about in the same conversations as other high-end iconic Colorado destinations, such as Vail, Breckenridge, and Aspen, due to its (growing) list of luxurious offerings.
Whether you’ve been to Steamboat in the past or are looking to visit for the first time, here are our recommendations to experience the best-of-the-best, including where to stay, ski, dine, and play.
Any temptation to say something like, “We won’t be spending a lot of time in the room, so it doesn’t matter where we stay” needs to be immediately squashed when it comes to a ski trip.
Where you stay matters a lot. You have bulky winter gear to store, so you’ll want plenty of space. Being able to access a lift on foot or via shuttle beats the heck out of driving and parking, especially if you plan to après out and about. And you’ll be tired after a day on the slopes, so having the right amenities and functionality can ensure you have a comfortable place to get cozy at night.
Enter Moving Mountains. These luxurious homes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have a few things in common. Space is the number one thing, with up to five or even six bedrooms available, and ski storage areas with boot warmers and racks. Kitchens are fully stocked with cookware, and can be pre-stocked with groceries prior to arrival if requested.
Plush couches and bedding make lounging around easy and induce restful sleep, and the houses allow you to enjoy the natural scenery, even in winter, with outside spaces that have fireplaces, heat lamps, and hot tubs to go along with the mountain views. If you don’t plan on going out every night, quality time can easily be spent at home.
Some properties, such as the Time Flies Lodge, are in walking distance of the mountain – in this case, the Thunderhead Express Lift – and offer a ski-in, ski-out scenario. Simply grab your boots off the warmer and make the two-minute walk to the lift. Otherwise, utilize the on-call, door-to-lift ski shuttle. This kind of access makes it easy for families and groups to come and go as they please.
Moving Mountains also manages properties in Vail, Breckenridge, and Beaver Creek, so they know a thing or two about ski towns. The customer service is top notch, with daily check ins (via text) and 24/7 availability in the case of a pressing need.
Many people dream of skiing fresh powder in the backcountry, but few actually go through with it. First, you need to know where to go, and second, you need the gear and experience to do it safely.
Steamboat Powdercats takes care of it all on their daily backcountry cat-ski experiences, with three ability levels to allow people of all skill sets to enjoy the deep snow stashes.
An all-inclusive experience, the day begins with at-home pickup, delivering you to the Powdercats shop near the base of Steamboat Mountain. Next, help yourself to a breakfast burrito and coffee as you get outfitted with backcountry skis and meet your guides and group for the day, fellow adventurers from near and afar. After a short transport to Buffalo Pass, you’ll be inside the heated, comfortable cat, riding through the snow-covered pine trees as you climb your way through the forest, in search of the perfect powder.
The guides will choose the best areas based on the conditions, and you’ll begin to run laps through the fluffy snow, skiing as a group through the untouched terrain before piling back into the cat to climb up once again. During the cat ride, swap ski stories with fellow guests and refresh.
You’ll get about six to eight heavenly runs in before heading to the company’s backcountry cabin for lunch. Warm up with hot soup and a hearty lunch (we had corned beef and potatoes) before taking another 6-8 runs to close out the afternoon.
Comradery is bound to blossom amongst the guides and guests (you can thank the powder!) and, back at the shop, you can celebrate with a beer as you view the photos from the day, taken by a professional photographer and available for free download.
For a preview of the experience and the type of terrain you can expect, check out the video above.
Not a downhill skier? Steamboat Powdercats also offers low-impact, remote cross-country ski tours. Less adrenaline, but just as beautiful.
So, you’ve skied yourself out, and now it’s time to recharge. Steamboat Springs is loaded with restaurants – where should you go?
If you’re looking for the latest and greatest, check out the trendy Primrose, located adjacent to the Yampa River in downtown Steamboat. Start with a light and fresh serving of oysters, paired best with a blue-cheese olive martini.
After, tackle a belly-warming entrée, such as lamb ragu, braised short rib, or a classic Colorado steak, washed down with something from the extensive wine list.
The vibe inside is buzzing and social, so bring your own upbeat energy along for the night. Pop in early for happy hour from 4-6 p.m. at the bar, or make a reservation for a table later in the night (or both?). Either way, arrive early for your reservation to catch a drink at the bar and enjoy the warming, chatty atmosphere.
A hot air balloon ride in the winter? Yes. It might just be the most magical thing you do in Steamboat, perfect for people of all ages and an experience you’ll remember long after.
As the sun comes up, your balloon will rise high above the town of Steamboat, and as you look over at the ski resort, you’ll see that you’re hovering somewhere in line with the top of the gondola, 9,000 feet above sea level.
Seeing the ski resort from this vantage point is special, and it’s a rather exclusive experience, with just a handful of folks able to go up each day. The company owner and pilot, Bud, offers a guided tour of the valley as you float, and after landing, you’ll toast to a successful flight with champagne as you hear a brief history of hot air ballooning.
But wait, isn’t it cold? A little, but a hot drink helps, and once you’re in the air, the views and quiet, peaceful stillness of the mountains will capture all your attention. The heat from the balloon’s burners also makes a big difference, too, so if you wear something similar to ski gear, you’ll be plenty warm.
After, head downtown for breakfast, or right to the slopes to continue the epic day.