Ski Town, USA
We just returned from a week-long family vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. What a gorgeous place, with excellent skiing and loads of off-mountain activities! Here are some highlights:
First, Mount Werner. Steamboat is NOT a cheap place to ski, the ski tickets for adults are more than $100/day and multiple days add up quickly. Even with pre-purchasing and military discounts, it was still quite the investment. Even so — these views are worth every single penny.
We found Mount Werner well-groomed and it offered a nice variety of terrain given that our family has a large variance in skiing abilities, injuries and comfort levels. My husband, a relatively new skier, had the opportunity to challenge himself while our niece and nephew, 4 and 6, had a chance to go up on to the “big mountain” and try out some of the longer, more gentle trails. A personal favorite was the winding, green scenic slope of “Why Not.” My hip flexor and glutes have been giving me a lot of trouble the past few weeks, including on our day trip to Loon Mountain in February which I had to spend half of in the lodge downing Aleve and (spiked) hot cocoa…no fun. Sticking on the gentler inclines in Colorado meant I could enjoy all of the gorgeousness that Steamboat had to offer without much pain (steeper trails and sharper turns were doing a number on me!).
We also spent one morning on the backside of the mountain, called Morning Side Park. With mostly blues (though, they were really turquoise, not as challenging as some of the blues on the front side) and blacks (more like tough blues), we wanted to wait until we were a little warmed up and a few days into the trip. A favorite trail back here is the relatively short Cowboy Coffee — beautiful, wide, and with lots of trees, it’s sort of like glade skiing for beginners. We loved it enough to ski it twice in a row!
The highlight of Morning Side Park, beyond the towering pines, were the “Camp Robbers.” These birds have been trained by generations of skiers to alight on outstretched hands for a snack. Sit on the right side of the chairlift with some goodies, and a gutsy bird or two will perch on your hand and inspect what you have to offer. We brought oats, some crushed bread, and a few other treats, but the crumbled goldfish were certainly a fan-favorite for these birds. Other species also live up here, but they’re a little more skittish around humans and tend to stick to the ground or watch from nearby, ready to clean up after the camp robbers and what is left behind. While I generally don’t love the idea of feeding wildlife, I just couldn’t resist. The birds get their nickname from their boldness at stealing morsels from campsites, a behavior that has since carried into the winter months as they’ve been discovered by generous ski-lift riders.
We spent a lot of our time skiing the runs below the Gondola, which goes about halfway up the mountain. A highlight of the trip was, for sure, our family photo session that we did at the top of the mountain. I won’t share our favorite photo because it’s likely to be our 2019 Christmas Card (checking that off in March? Awesome!) but we did love this one, too.
We stayed at a rental condo right on the mountain. With six adults and two kids, it really was the way to go in terms of convenience and flexibility. Especially because I only skied half the days we were out there, thanks to my hip, and my husband and mother skied 2/3rds of the week, it was great to be able to do half days easily, meet up for lunch, or be nearby in case we wanted to pop out for a quick run.
Off the mountain, my sister in law found some really excellent restaurants for the two birthday dinners we celebrated. We had an amazing dinner at Table 79 for my mom’s birthday, and another excellent meal at Low Country Kitchen for my brother’s birthday a few days later. We even talked about returning to Low the last night (though we ended up getting OK Thai takeout instead and opted for s’mores by the fire!)
We also really loved Salt & Lime in town for tacos. My mom, husband and I went here for lunch and ended up taking the kids, my dad and my sister in law back a few days later. The bison taco is TO DIE for!
As for attractions, we didn’t do too much, though we’d have loved to have more time/budget. If we go back, I definitely want to try snowshoeing and I may even try ski mobile-ing, though I’m not sure I’ll like the latter. We didn’t see any moose or elk (though there was chatter of a moose on the mountain a few days we were there) so I think a snowshoe nature walk would make that more likely!
We did go to the Old Town Hot Springs with the kids and really weren’t impressed. Friends had recommended Strawberry Fields Hotsprings instead, but we never got around to arranging a shuttle to go there — Old Town is right in downtown Steamboat, the other is out of town a little way. Something to save for next time!
My husband and I really enjoyed our run on the Yampa River Core Trail. The 3 or 4-mile trail runs along the river through town. It’s a paved multi-use path, and it was relatively clear (though a bit slushy or icy at parts) and the views are just breathtaking — of course, running at altitude doesn’t help, either. We put in a sold 3-mile effort and called it a day when we ran past Mountain Tap Brewery. So, of course, we stopped in to sample some beer.
My husband bartends at my boss’s other business, a local brewery, back home, and I work partially with beer events, so of course, we had to swing by and sample what they offered. I have to say, it was very good! We also went to Storm Peak Brewing a few days later, which was also great. We recommend both!
Finally, my sister in law and I took a hot yoga class (she did two) at Out Here Yoga. I’ve never done heated yoga before; it was a challenge, but it felt great to really get a good stretch after a few days of skiing/running/not stretching. The view from their studio isn’t so bad, either!
All in all, the week was a nice break to do something a little different and to spend some real quality time together as a family. Next year, the destination will be somewhere warm— can’t wait!