Who needs snow when you’re at a ski resort? Take Steamboat Springs, Colo., for example. Yeah, the skiing is great, but when the white stuff evaporates, the fun can really begin.
You can have as much fun in foothills as on the peaks. It’s easy. Just look for activities that run throughout the year, choose an experience unique to the area and get native. That’s what we did.
On a recent spring morning, we planned a few hours of horseback riding with Del’s Triangle Three Ranch. See that snapshot? Almost no snow, but that wasn’t stopping our horses — or us.
According to legend, Steamboat Springs was named by French trappers who were startled by a sudden overpowering noise while tramping through the area. It turns out the sound was the release of pressure from one of the many hot springs resting just beneath the surface in the area.
Today you can visit the Old Town Hot Springs, but pack your bathing suit. The facility’s eight pools are fed by the Heart Spring, an artisanal well once used for its perceived medicinal qualities by the Ute Indians. Maybe that’s why there are so many Olympians from this town. Something in the water.
Oh, and take a hike. We found an easy half-mile excursion to the Fish Creek Falls to just as invigorating as stripping down to our bathing suits in 40-degree weather and plunging into a mineral pool. Most of the area is paved, and there’s a small bridge at the base of the falls.
Sure, our hotel, the Steamboat Grand, sees itself primarily as a ski resort hotel, with its proximity to the base of the Steamboat ski resort. But it’s a great location to use as your basecamp for hiking, biking or snowshoeing the trails. The spacious rooms offer plenty of space for you and all the gear you might need for your mountain adventure.
Skiing is fun, but ski resorts are a year-round thing for our family. The key is to find a ski destination with a real town (not one of those ersatz destination resorts that shutters itself up in April) and attractions that are open throughout the year.
We’ll come back to Steamboat, but next time we want to visit during the summer. We still love to ski, but this place is about much more than that.