Oak Creek, Colorado: Things To Do, Where To Eat, + More
HAVE YOU HEARD OF OAK CREEK, COLORADO?
Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this small town is a hidden gem located just 20 miles from Steamboat Springs. Oak Creek is home to some of the most beautiful scenery and outdoor activities Colorado offers.
Mike and I live in Oak Creek, Colorado half of the year, so we know all the local tips for making the most of your visit.
Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or a quiet place to retreat for the weekend, this ultimate guide will include everything you need to know about Oak Creek.
We’ll discuss the top things to do (during both winter and summer), unique restaurants to try, local events, and the answers to some common questions we get about Oak Creek, Colorado.
13 Things To Do Near Oak Creek
Oak Creek, Colorado, offers various activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.
While almost everything to do in Oak Creek is outdoors, there are activities on this list for both adventure travelers and people just for a quiet place to relax in nature.
1. Go Fishing At Stagecoach Reservoir
The Stagecoach Reservoir is one of Colorado’s best fishing spots. It’s specifically known for rainbow trout, but there have also been record-setting Pike caught at Stagecoach (48 inches)!
The fishery has a ‘selective harvest’ policy, which helps support the lake’s ecosystem. ‘Selective harvest’ means you can keep the medium-sized fish but must catch and release smaller and larger fish back into the lake.
Some tourists fish from the shore, but you can also join guided fishing tours or rent fishing boats for a more professional fishing experience.
2. Hike The Silver Creek Trail
The Silver Creek Trail is a 9.0-mile out-and-back hiking trail that takes you into the Sarvis Creek Wilderness. It takes around 30 minutes to get to the trailhead from Oak Creek, Colorado.
You’re unlikely to encounter many other hikers on the trail, so it’s a really peaceful place to visit, with beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains.
This moderate-difficulty hiking trail starts with a steep climb but quickly levels out for a total elevation gain of about 1,500 feet.
This trail stays below the treeline for the entire journey, so you’ll see lots of wildflowers, aspen trees, and wildlife such as elk, deer, and bears!
3. Listen To Live Music On Franciosi’s Outdoor Patio
Franciosi Brothers is a pizzeria in Oak Creek and one of our favorite places to eat in town (more on that later).
During the warmer months, they have live music for free on their outdoor patio. The live concerts usually happen on Wednesdays from about 5 PM – 8 PM. Check their Instagram page to see if they are hosting a free show this week.
It’s also common for Franciosi’s to offer great specials on their live music nights.
4. Cross ‘Devil’s Causeway’
Devil’s Causeway is another popular hike near Oak Creek in the Flat Tops Wilderness.
But it’s also the most dangerous…
The ‘Causeway’ is a narrow section at the top of the mountain that, at its narrowest point, is just 3 feet wide with steep drop-offs on either side of you.
If you are brave enough to cross Devil’s Causeway, you can continue and make the hike a loop of 10.5 miles. But if not, you can stop here to enjoy the epic views, then turn around, making the out-and-back trail about 6 miles roundtrip.
Mike and I have personally completed this hike, and it’s definitely not for beginners.
In addition to being a dangerous trail, Devil’s Causeway has an elevation gain of 1900 feet. So, be very, very cautious, and don’t attempt this hike alone.
5. Camp At Chapman Reservoir
In Yampa, Colorado, about 30 minutes south of Oak Creek, you’ll find a beautiful place to camp called Chapman Reservoir.
This is a little-known camping area with 12 first-come, first-served campsites. It’s fairly primitive, so come prepared with plenty of water and everything you need. We love to spend a few days here to reconnect with ourselves and nature.
There is one vault toilet at the campground but no running water, showers, or electricity. And the amenities at each campsite are a picnic table and a fire ring.
There is also a ton of dispersed camping in the area, so if you want to get even further off the grid, you can set up your tent in most places around the Reservoir.
6. Ski / Snowboard At Steamboat Resort
I wanted to keep this post exclusively about things to do around Oak Creek, but with Steamboat Springs so close, I can’t help but include skiing/snowboarding.
Steamboat Spring is a much more popular mountain town in Colorado, and it’s only 20 minutes from Oak Creek.
You can choose between Steamboat Ski Resort and Howelsen Hill Ski Resort.
Howelsen Hill Ski Resort is actually North America’s oldest continuously operated ski resort. It’s the more budget-friendly resort in Steamboat but has 50 acres of trails, four chair lifts, and two terrain parks.
Steamboat Ski Resort is one of the most famous resorts in Colorado and is significantly bigger than Howelsen Hill. It has 18 chair lifts and an absurd 169 trails that lend themselves more to intermediate/advanced skiers.
If you want to go skiing in Steamboat, you can save a lot of money on food/accomodation by staying a short drive away in Oak Creek.
7. Relax On The Beach At Stagecoach Reservoir
In addition to fishing, most people are surprised to find out that there is a swimming beach at Stagecoach Reservoir.
The beach is small but a great place to swim and enjoy the sun near Oak Creek.
Stagecoach Beach is also right next to the marina, with facilities like a convenience store, boat dock, and public restrooms. The facilities here are open from Memorial Day through the first weekend in September.
8. Snowshoe / Cross Country Ski At Rossi Meadow Ski Trail
Every year around mid-December, Oak Creek grooms the Rossi Meadow to create a trail for cross-country skiers and snowshoeing.
The town also puts up delineates and regularly grooms the trial throughout the winter.
The snowshoe/ski trail is a couple of miles long and starts near the intersection of Bell Avenue and Oak Ridge Circle, just outside of the town.
If you don’t have your own equipment, there’s a shed at the start of the trail with donated gear that is free to use.
9. Snowmobile In The Backcountry
Routt National Forest is an excellent place for backcountry snowmobiling, with some of the best views in all of Colorado.
We have yet to actually try this, but we have heard great things from local friends.
In the winter, you can book a snowmobiling tour with Steamboatsnowmobile. They have 2-hour to 4-hour Backcountry explorer tours starting at around $185 per person.
Make sure to dress warm with ski gear, including gloves and goggles. If you don’t have snow gear, the tour guides will provide snowsuits, boots, and helmets.
Full disclosure: This suggestion obviously poses a risk to your safety. Taking snow machines in the backcountry can lead to life threatening injuries or worse. Please take this as a warning!
10. Rent A Boat At Stagecoach State Park
In addition to swimming, sunbathing, and fishing at Stagecoach State Park, you can also rent a boat of your own for the day.
You can rent pontoon boats for a day of BBQing and relax on the water, sport boats for fishing, Mastercraft boats for watersports, and even jet skis.
You can also rent Paddlecrafts like SUPs, kayaks, and canoes.
11. Ice Skate At The Local Rink
Oak Creek is a tiny town, but they have their own covered ice rink open to the public all winter.
It’s one of the best free things to do in Oak Creek and is popular among tourists and locals.
You can also borrow ice skates (figure skates & honey skates) for free, and the ice is groomed and cared for throughout the season by the Oak Creek Hockey Association.
12. Visit Lucky 8 Ranch
Lucky 8 Ranch is a family-run Bison Ranch about 13 miles north of Oak Creek. The property is over 3000 acres and has beautiful views of the rolling foothills below the Rocky Mountains.
It’s a popular wedding venue, but tourists love to come here to see the Bison up close on guided ATV tours and Snowmobiling tours.
The 3-hour ATV tours are $360 per machine, and the 2-hour Snowmobile tours are $190 per driver and $70-120 per passenger.
13. Attend A Community Event
Oak Creek is a close-knit town, and the people here care about investing in their community.
A few activities and seasonal events throughout the year are fun to join, even if you are just passing through. You’ll find free yoga classes, an annual Easter Egg Hunt, food festivals, toboggan races, Oaktoberfest, and summer farmer’s markets.
If nothing is happening during your visit to Oak Creek, Colorado, you could check and see what’s going on in Steamboat Springs (which has a much larger population and more events throughout the year).
Best Oak Creek Restaurants & Places To Eat
There aren’t really a lot of places to eat in Oak Creek, Colorado. You can find some quality local restaurants and a seasonal cantina/burger bar, but there are no large chains or fast food restaurants.
Franciosi Brothers is the best place to eat in Oak Creek. It’s an Italian restaurant focused on serving pizza, but you can find subs, sandwiches, salads, and other amazing dishes like Philly cheesesteaks, too.
One of our good friends owns this restaurant, so we eat dinner here all the time when we’re staying in Oak Creek.
Our favorite part of Franciosi’s is their outdoor patio where you can enjoy live music most Wednesday nights.
Unfortunately, Lupita’s Cantina is a seasonal restaurant, only open in the summer.
But it’s another one of our favorite restaurants in town. We love the rustic atmosphere and outdoor seating.
They have generous servings of classic Tex-Mex food, such as Tacos, Burritos, and Quesadillas. There is also a hot sauce bar and a big selection of beer, sipping tequilas, and even Mezcals.
Where To Stay In Oak Creek, Colorado
Oak Creek is a very small town with less than 1,000 people, but there is one motel. It’s called The Lodges of Oak Creek, and it’s a small collection of 10 cabins, which hold 2-4 people per cabin.
The rooms here are clean and spacious (due to a lofted bed). They also have a full kitchen with a stove, refrigerator, and microwave, so you can buy groceries and eat in if you prefer, which is a great option in the Yampa Valley considering the high cost of living.
Oak Creek, Colorado: FAQs
Our small town of Oak Creek, Colorado is known for its rustic charm and proximity to some of the best ski resorts in Colorado. This FAQ section below will help you plan your trip and answer any questions you may have.
Is Oak Creek, Colorado a good place to live?
Yes, Oak Creek is a good place to live. We love living here because it’s much quieter and has significantly fewer tourists than Steamboat Springs, but it’s still close enough to a day trip to all of the best parts of Steamboat and Routt County.
How far is Oak Creek to Steamboat Springs?
Oak Creek is 21 miles from Steamboat Springs. This drive takes about 20 minutes in the summertime but 25-30 in the winter. Steamboat gets a lot of snow, so if you visit in the winter, the roads can be really dangerous, so drive with extreme caution.
What is the history of Oak Creek, Colorado?
Oak Creek is an old coal-mining town that dates back to 1907 when it was incorporated as it rapidly grew to over 2000 people within the first decade. It’s slowly declined in population in step with alternative energy sources becoming more popular, and not is a quiet mountain retreat from the bigger cities in Colorado.
What county is Oak Creek, Colorado in?
Oak Creek, Colorado, is in Routt Country. It’s the third largest town in the country, behind Steamboat Springs, CO, and Hayden, CO. Routt County is also home to Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, where you can find excellent backcountry hiking, plus lots of fishing and hunting opportunities.
The Wrap-Up: Exploring Oak Creek, Colorado
We absolutely love living in Oak Creek. The quiet town is refreshing and set in a beautiful and quiet part of Colorado.
Our favorite things to do here are go hiking on some of the best trails in Colorado, spend the day at Stagecoach Reservoir, and or take a day trip to the Steamboat Springs area.
We hope you enjoy our home base as much as we do.