If you’ve spent any time on two planks, you know that just because you know how to ski doesn’t mean every day is perfect. In fact, some days, making it to the bottom is a miracle. Then, there are what I call “superwoman” ski days. Days when your body keeps up with your brain, and you glide through the trees with ease, cruise on wide-open groomers, and flow with the bumps. There are some places where this may never happen, but Steamboat Springs in Colorado is one of those spots that make those superwoman experiences infinitely more attainable.
In February, I arrived at Steamboat during a particularly stellar snowstorm, meaning things were about to get both deep and steep, and maybe a little bubbly. You see, Steamboat Ski Resort’s snow is lighter than most with just 6 percent water content, making it ultra-fluffy. It’s so unique that the resort trademarked it, calling it Champagne Powder.
For this extra special ski experience, I enlisted the help of Kari Rillos, a ski guide and long-time local who took me to all the sweet spots, which included plenty of Steamboat’s renowned tree skiing.
“We are sort of known for being friendly, we’re just sort of down to earth,” Rillos shared. “People come here because there’s not an attitude.” She pointed to the century-old Winter Carnival, an event where cowboy culture meets ski culture, as one of Steamboat’s most inviting offerings.
“There’s something cool about the Winter Carnival when your kid is being dragged down Main Street behind a horse,” Rillos added. She explained over the weekend, there is a series of events, including skijoring, an activity that involves a horse and rider pulling skiers, snowboarders, and even adults on snow shovels, down the street.
It’s not something you’ll find in glitzy ski towns in Aspen, and that’s exactly how Steamboat likes it. Ready to visit? Here are all the little details you need to know about to plan the perfect getaway to Steamboat.
How to Get There
You’ll find nonstop flights into Steamboat’s Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN) from 16 U.S. cities (including Dallas, Newark, Chicago, and Los Angeles). From the airport, it’s just 22 miles to Steamboat. If you fly into Denver, it’s less than three hours by car to Steamboat.
How to Ride
The Ikon Pass includes unlimited skiing at Steamboat. If you missed the boat and didn’t buy an Ikon Pass this year, you can pick up the $199 Springalicious Pass, which includes three ski days of your choice between April 1-10. Single-day lift tickets start at $135 but can jump to $235 during high-demand periods.
Where to Stay
For families and ski groups, book a condo at Trailhead Lodge by Vacasa, which has multi-bedroom rentals with full kitchens, gas fireplaces, and balconies. In addition to a heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, the free Wildhorse Gondola (which is just out the front door) transports you to the base of the ski resort in a matter of minutes, so you can easily access the mountain without compromising privacy and quiet.
If you’re looking for hotel-style accommodations, check out the Steamboat Grand, which has plenty of amenities, including on-site restaurants, a spa, pool, and hot tub, and is just steps from the base of the resort.
Where to Dine
On-mountain, book a table at Ragnar’s (I can attest to the quality of their dessert menu — and the Caesar salad) or drop by Four Points, a grab-and-go eatery where you can sit in an Adirondack chair with a Bloody Mary in hand for as long as you’d like.
For a cozy, romantic evening downtown, swing by Laundry, which has a phenomenal cocktail menu (I got the blueberry lemon drop), or Table 79, a restaurant with a divine small plate menu and a cosmopolitan, yet friendly, vibe. If you’re with a group, head to the always-bustling Salt & Lime for queso and a giant pitcher of margaritas.
Where to Après
Rillos likes to end her ski day at T Bar, a ski-patrol-hut-turned-bar-and-restaurant with on-the-snow seating and great food. If T Bar is already packed (it’s a tiny spot), Rillos recommends Slopeside, which has “pizza and music, lots of outdoor seating — and in the spring, they’ll build an outdoor bar.”
But, if rehashing the day over a drink isn’t your style, Steamboat has just the solution: Strawberry Park Hot Springs. A dip in the natural hot spring pools situated along the river is the perfect complement to a long ski day.