When I first moved to Steamboat Springs, everyone assumed I lived near Denver. In reality, Steamboat is a pretty secluded town located about 2 hours and 25 minutes northwest of Denver.
Getting from Denver to Steamboat Springs can be quite the challenge. But we’ve done it so many times that we’ve got you completely covered.
Here are the four best ways to go from Denver to Steamboat Springs.
Denver To Steamboat Springs By Plane – FASTEST
The fastest way to get to Steamboat Springs is by taking a short flight directly from Denver. The main airlines operating this route are United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, and ticket prices can vary significantly.
Here are the typical prices of airplane tickets from Denver to Steamboat Springs:
- One-way ticket: $50 – 200
- Return ticket: $100 -350+
The prices will vary depending on the time of year and when you purchase your tickets. Winter is the busiest time to visit Steamboat, so you can expect prices to be much higher during winter months.
Summer is also a busy time for Steamboat Springs, so flight prices from Denver will likely be higher, too.
Save money by visiting Steamboat in the fall. The colors of the aspen are beautiful and you’ll likely still have a few warm days to enjoy.
How long is the flight from Denver to Steamboat Springs?
While the actual flight time is only 29 minutes, it takes a total of 50 minutes between boarding in Denver and deplaning in Steamboat Springs.
Be sure to also factor in check-in time, bag drop-off (if necessary), security, etc. Denver is a large airport (the largest in the US), so give yourself enough time, especially if you have oversized luggage like skis or other sporting equipment.
Important tip: I will say that I’ve taken this flight many times and even though it’s short, it can be pretty bumpy. If turbulence doesn’t excite you, I recommend taking a flight that’s earlier in the day or driving. The mountains really affect the turbulence, but if you can ignore it, the view of Rabbit Ears Pass from the plane is pretty neat.
What is the closest airport To Steamboat Springs?
The closest airport to Steamboat Springs is Hayden-Yampa Valley Airport. This small regional airport opened in 1966 to serve the ski community and is located just 30 minutes from Steamboat.
While the Yampa Valley Airport doesn’t have much to offer in terms of restaurants or shops, its small size makes it quick and easy to get through. Security lines and baggage reclaim are a breeze.
If you’re flying into Steamboat and need to hire a car when you arrive, the Yampa Valley Airport has a great range of rental vehicles. However, I wouldn’t recommend renting from the Budget Rent A Car from this airport. We had a poor experience with them and a few of our friends have as well.
Denver To Steamboat Springs By Shuttle – CHEAPEST
One of the most popular travel options between Denver and Steamboat Springs is by shuttle or bus.
GoAlpine has been Steamboat Springs’ largest full-service ground transportation company since 1984, offering both shared rides and private rides. GoAlpine’s professional drivers will transport you to and from Steamboat Springs and Denver International Airport.
If you want to spare no expense, you can also upgrade to GoAlpine’s Platinum Ride Service, where you’ll be offered a tote bag full of beverages and snacks of your choice during your private ride.
Another similar option is Bustang Intercity Bus Service.
Established in 2015, Bustang is a relatively new interregional express bus service run by the Colorado Department of Transportation. It’s a comfortable and reliable service operating between Colorado’s busy I-70 and I-25 corridors during peak hours, 7 days a week.
On average, Bustang’s one-way fare between Denver Union Station and Steamboat Springs is $34. There are often seasonal discounts and offers, so keep an eye on their website.
Just keep in mind that the journey between Denver and Steamboat riding Bustang takes about 5 hours. And Bustang operates to and from Denver Union Station, so be sure to calculate additional travel times and costs if you’re continuing to Denver International Airport.
Denver To Steamboat Springs By Rental Car – SELF DRIVE
Many people choose to hire a rental car from Denver and drive to Steamboat Springs on their own terms. Having your own set of wheels definitely allows more independence and flexibility when traveling.
Not to mention, the views while driving between these destinations are insane.
The drive from Denver Airport to Steamboat can vary between 3-5 hours on average, depending on traffic, weather conditions, and your chosen route.
There are 2 main driving routes from Denver to Steamboat:
Option 1: Driving From Denver To Steamboat Via Silverthorne
This is the route Google Maps will tell you to take unless there’s a road closure on I-70, which can happen when it snows a lot. Be sure to check the weather and road conditions before you depart.
Taking this route includes following two main roads: you’ll start out on the I-70, then jump on Highway 9 in Silverthorne. Finally, stay on Highway 9 / Highway 40 from Kremmling all the way to Steamboat.
The total length of this journey is 156 miles and it’s the most scenic route. So, if it’s your first time making the Denver to Steamboat drive, we recommend going via Silverthorne for the beautiful Colorado panorama.
Option 2: Driving From Denver To Steamboat Via Granby
At 166 miles, this route is just 10 miles longer than the Silverthorne route, however, there is often less traffic. Driving from Denver to Steamboat through Granby is more of a local route, as tourists tend to go via Silverthorne.
The only congestion you’re likely to come across is around the Winter Park area since this is a popular ski resort. Once you get past Winter Park, it’s usually clear sailing.
By traveling to Steamboat via Granby you’ll only be on the I-70 for a short distance getting out of Denver, most of your journey will be along Highway 40.
What Is The Drive Like From Denver To Steamboat Springs?
There honestly isn’t a direct answer to this question. Driving from Denver to Steamboat can sometimes be an absolute breeze, or it can be an awful experience.
There can be a lot of variables when driving deep in the Rocky Mountains. During winter months, there can be dangerous blizzards and avalanches blocking the road, as well as heavy tourist traffic with everyone flocking to the ski resorts.
You should be especially mindful that many visitors have never driven through harsh winter conditions, causing more accidents on the road. So, keep your distance from other cars and be vigilant.
During the warmer months, driving to Steamboat from Denver can be absolutely blissful. The bright blue skies and Colorado sun will definitely boost your mood, and the views will be amazing. However, if you’re traveling during rush hour or over a holiday weekend, be prepared for queues.
As a rule of thumb, try to travel during the week and avoid peak commuter times. Additionally, always check the weather reports before hitting the road. There have even been snow blizzards in summer before.
Where Should I Stop Between Denver And Steamboat Springs?
If you’re traveling from Denver to Steamboat via Silverthorne, you should definitely stop in Silverthorne to get a bite to eat and stretch your legs. Silverthorne is a beautiful town with astonishing views.
Tip: Our favorite sandwich shop in Silverthorne is Cheeba Hut. It’s delicious! Go for the Dank sandwich (pizza sandwich) and the garlic cheese bread.
There are also pretty picnic areas along the Blue River, and Lake Dillon Reservoir is just a few minutes down the road from where you turn off I-70 to head north to Denver.
If you’re taking the Granby route, you could stop off in Winter Park or Granby, or both. Being a ski town, Winter Park has a number of great restaurants and shops, and the downtown area is easy to walk around.
Granby has a completely different, but equally charming vibe compared to Winter Park. It’s a friendly small town with a western feel. Taking a stroll down the main street is a great way to stretch your legs.
Wherever you stop along your journey, there are plenty of places to hike, shop, eat, and explore.
Denver To Steamboat Springs By Uber
Finally, as a last resort, your fourth and final option to get from Denver to Steamboat Springs is by Uber. No, we’re not out of our minds, this has actually happened.
It costs approximately $700 to Uber from Denver to Steamboat Springs. We know this because we recently had a canceled flight from Denver to Yampa Valley Airport and a group of people who booked the same flight decided to Uber.
They were a group of 4 people and they were going to split the $700 fare between them. While we definitely do not recommend taking an Uber all the way from Denver to Steamboat, just know that it is an option if you’re completely stuck and absolutely need to get to Steamboat that day.
If you can be a little flexible, you’re probably better off getting a hotel in Denver and arranging more affordable travel the next day.
Can You Hitchhike In Colorado?
I had a friend hitchhike all over Colorado and loved it. He was a German friend that visited for a few days. Although he had a positive experience, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting into cars with strangers.
Perhaps abroad, but I don’t know if I would make hitchhiking my first choice of transportation in Colorado.
Conclusion: Denver To Steamboat Springs
So there you have it. These are the four possible ways to get from Denver to Steamboat Springs.
The most budget-friendly option is taking an intercity bus and the fastest option is flying. However, we believe the most enjoyable option is renting your own car and seeing some of Colorado’s astonishing natural beauty.