Descending over the Rocky Mountains snow-capped peaks in July thrills travelers heading to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A three hour drive from Denver, winding through some of the prettiest scenery in the state, Steamboat Springs attracts the young and adventurous, families and everyone else who loves the outdoors and thrives in nature. In the winter it's all about skiing, but summer is my favorite time to travel to this mountain resort with cloudless blue skies and the roar of the Yampa River running through the verdant valley. My first stop was the Steamboat Grand Hotel up on the mountain where I dropped my bags, swooned over the mountains, then took the gondola to the top of the mountain for views of the entire valley, lunch, and a hike.
There's bike rentals all over the mountain, but I mosey into town and rent a bike, cross Lincoln Avenue to the 8 mile round trip trail that meanders along the Yampa River. It's easy and has plenty of access, passes the free Botanical Gardens, and up into the mountainside. There's mountain biking and dirt trails galore ranging from 357 to a 1000 elevation with everything in between.
Hiking is a national past time in Steamboat and locals and tourist hit the trails early. If this is your first time in Steamboat Springs, Fish Creek Falls trail loop is the place to begin your hike. It's easy to access and ranges from easy to difficult levels. Bring a picnic and if you have a dog, it's welcome too. Entrance fee. $5.00 a day.
If you want a little adventure on the water, where else but Colorado where whitewater rafting is king. Take a dynamic ride down the Colorado River or a mini adventure down the Yampa River, as I did. I opted for a half day easy, but very wet rafting morning. I rented from Bucking Rainbow Outfitters, and had just enough adventure to talk about, but not enough to brag about.
It's hot in the summertime, and Steamboat is fed by mineral springs. Everyone is looking to cool off. Nestled along Hot Spring Creek is a spectacular mineral spring called Strawberry Park natural hot springs, just outside of town up a windy road. Families, friends and locals frequent the mineral springs. If you want minerals springs closer to town, Old Town Hot Springs swimming pool and mineral baths are located on the edge of Lincoln Avenue as you enter or leave town.
Golfers have five picturesque courses to tee off from, three are public, and all located minutes from downtown.
For shoppers, Steamboat is dotted with art galleries and independently owned boutiques, all with a local artist flare. Most shops are located on Lincoln Avenue, or off on the side streets, all in ambling distance.
There's lots of eateries in Steamboat, but those in the know dine along the Yampa River where eateries serve up organic delights to fat, juicy steak, all with delightful happy hours from 4-6pm. The newest food chat of the town though isn't along the river but up on the mountain - Chelsea's White Dragon Restaurant, with spicy rave reviews from locals.
One thing is certain, whether you bike, hike, hit the springs, run the rapids, dine or tee off, Steamboat Springs is a mighty fine place to be in the summer.