Steamboat Springs: Highlights and Lowlights in Colorado’s Coolest Outdoor Town

I’ve only been to Steamboat Springs, Colo. a couple of times in the summer but this recreational Mecca is chock full of memories for me. Mind you, not all of them good:

*There was my infamous hike with friend Kristy 13 years ago wherein we attempted to hike the Rabbit Ears, got lost and never found the summit. On a positive note, Kristy introduced me to “bear sticks.” She was disillusioned to believe that tapping two sticks together would scare bears away. I countered they were more like the bears’ dinner call. Fortunately, they were never put to the test.

*Then, there was my family’s trip four years ago when we had THE BEST TIME at the popular rodeo, only to come back to the car four hours later and realize we had locked the keys in the car. When it was still running. Go here for all the sordid details.

Yampa River

I was recently invited to be on a panel of the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in Steamboat and decided this was going to be my trip of reckoning and that nothing would go wrong. Mind you, it almost did when I started on my 2.5–hour drive and shortly after I got on the freeway, I realized I forgot my mountain bike and had to turn around.

Fortunately, that was the only misstep in what became a glorious three-day trip the Yampa Valley. Unfortunately, I had missed the peak of the fall colors but the weather was glorious, crisp and clear.

Yampa River Core Trail

The vein of Steamboat Springs is the 7-mile Yampa River Core Trail. I’ve walked portions of it with my family but resolved to bike it end-to-end and back again (14 miles for the math-deficient). I started on the south side of town at the Ranger’s Station and headed north.

It was the perfect way to discover Steamboat Springs. I wound through beautiful groves.

Past the Rotary Park boardwalk, which extends across the marshes adjacent to the Yampa River with  informative interpretive signs.

Along the Yampa River Botanical Gardens and the Bud Werner Memorial Library (behind which were play structures for kids and fantastic boulders to check-out the Yampa River). I cut right through the rodeo grounds and various park sites (Steamboat has 28 of them) until the trail dead-ended at the local skate park.

As I headed back to town, I realized I was famished so stopped at Bamboo Market–an organic deli overlooking the river. I should have been tipped off this was not your average market when the products that greeted me were Mugwort Herb, Horehound Herb and Horsetail Herb.  It was right out of a Harry Potter wizard’s spell book.

I sauntered over to the deli and ordered the least suspicious thing on the menu: a turkey sandwich on pumpkin seed bread. Or so I thought.

Dude behind the counter: “Do you want mustard and vegenaise on that?”

“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?”


“That’s what I thought you said. Sure, why not. Just put it on the side.”

Trying vegan mayonnaise? Now that is risk-taking.

I nestled back on the outdoor patio feeling very outdoorsy-yuppy-vegan hanging and started eavesdropping on the outdoorsy-yuppy-vegan peeps the next table over. The woman was talking very loudly to her phone.

“Yes, we’re here in Steamboat and eating (long pause)….organic stuff.”

Nice to know they were as clueless as I was.

My next Steamboat Springs resolution: ski there this winter. And here’s for hoping that trip goes just as smoothly.

Stay tuned for my adventures at Upper Fish Creek Falls!


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