25 Best Things To Do In Steamboat Springs In Winter (By A Local)

Looking for the best winter activities in Steamboat?

As longtime Steamboat Springs locals (we’ve lived here 9 years and counting), we’ve scoped out the top things to do in our ski town. Trust us, Steamboat Springs, a.k.a “Ski Town USA”, really lives up to the hype. Here’s our curated list of must-dos for an incredible winter vacation in Steamboat.

Steamboat Springs Winter Activities For Non-Skiers

You don’t have to be an avid skier or snowboarder to fall in love with Steamboat Springs in the winter. This incredible little mountain town has something for everyone to enjoy, regardless of age or activity level.

1. Visit Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Getting There: Google Maps link to Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Located about a 20-minute drive from downtown Steamboat, Strawberry Hot Springs is an absolute must-do winter activity! There are two large natural hot spring pools, one is a few degrees hotter than the other. Then there’s a cold-water pool to plunge into if you need some relief from the heat.

A picture of a hot springs pool in Steamboat Springs
A winter view of Strawberry Park Hot Springs pools

Nestled deep in Routt County National Forest, Strawberry Park Hot Springs is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. Facilities include bathrooms and heated changing rooms, but after dark, there is extremely limited lighting, so you’ll need to bring a torch to find your way back out.

Note: You will definitely need a 4×4 vehicle with snow tires to reach these hot springs. If you don’t have an appropriate vehicle, you can book a shuttle.

2. Hike Up Fish Creek Falls

Getting There: Google Maps link to Fish Creek Falls

Located about 3 miles from downtown off of Fish Creek Falls Road, you’ll find the parking lot and trailhead to the falls themselves. The 280ft tall waterfall is a sight to behold, especially in winter! During the coldest months, Fish Creek Falls freezes over and becomes a recreation spot for ice climbers.

A picture of Echo, the dog, hiking up to Fish Creek Falls with me.

Fish Creek Falls is accessible year-round. There is a short 0.8-mile loop trail to get to the falls. But, for those with walking difficulties, there is also a wheelchair-accessible viewing platform, just a quarter mile from the car park.

3. Attend The Steamboat Winter Carnival

More Info: Steamboat Winter Carnival 2024

In Steamboat, we love to party and we especially like having things to look forward to during the long, dark winters. So, to help combat our cabin fever in the middle of winter, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC) founded the Winter Carnival 111 years ago.

Howelsen Hill during the Steamboat Winter Carnival as fireworks burst into the air and light up the mountain
More fireworks being set off at Howelsen Hill to celebrate the Steamboat Winter Carnival.

The Winter Carnival is a celebration of Steamboat’s western heritage and pays homage to the town’s traditional winter sports. Highlights include:

  • Skiers being pulled by horses ridden by cowboys right down main street (Lincoln Avenue)
  • Pro alpine ski jumping
  • Obstacle course cross-country skiing
  • Fireworks and nighttime festivities

And many more exciting winter activities, particularly for couples and families.

4. Hike Up Emerald Mountain

Getting There: Google Maps link to Emerald Mountain parking area

Overlooking Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Town is Emerald Mountain. This small mountain is only 8,252 feet (2,515 meters) and it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon hike, even in the winter. There’s a 3.8-mile out-and-back trail to reach the top, it’s a moderate hike that most young kids can manage too.

Steamboat Springs - Ski Town USA

This is a favorite outdoor exercise spot amongst locals. People hike, run, and mountain bike here year-round. Due to the high traffic, the wide trail is always well-maintained and easily accessible even when covered in snow.

Local’s Tip: Hike up Emerald Mountain at night during a full moon. You won’t regret it!

5. Visit The Hot Springs At Old Town Hot Springs

Getting There: Google Maps link to Old Town Hot Springs

If you don’t want to make the drive through the forest to reach Strawberry Hot Springs mentioned earlier, you can still enjoy the hot springs experience right in downtown Steamboat. Old Town Hot Springs has been a center for recreation and rejuvenation in the local community for over 100 years, and it’s worth noting that it is very kid-friendly.

Old Town Hot Springs are a great activity in downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Today, Old Town Hot Springs has 8 outdoor pools fed by the Heart Spring, a climbing wall, a spa, and a world-class fitness center. You can choose just to soak in the warm waters, or get some exercise in the Lap Pool. There are also water slides and a kiddie pool.

6. Go Snow Tubing At Saddleback Ranch

Getting There: Google Maps link to Saddleback Ranch

If your legs are worn out from intense skiing or snowboarding, there is another fun way to get down the slopes with no skiing skills required: Go snow tubing at Saddleback Ranch.

It’s worth noting that Saddleback Ranch is kid-friendly, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this activity for families with children under the age of 4.

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    Located just 15 miles west of Steamboat Springs, Yee-Haw Hill at Saddleback Ranch is sure to be a highlight of your winter vacation; we used to go here every year for our employee party.

    This tubing hill has 3 runs that you can speed down on in your inner tube, and there’s a tow lift system to take you back to the top. When you need a break from the cold, you can grab a warm drink and bite to eat at the Warming Lodge at the base of the hill.

    7. Cross-Country Skiing

    If bombing down steep ski slopes isn’t quite your cup of tea, Steamboat offers several great cross-country skiing tracks, too. Here are the main cross-country skiing locations in Steamboat:

    • Rabbit Ears Pass
    • Stagecoach State Park
    • Pearl Lake State Park
    Me and my dad snowshoeing just outside of Steamboat Springs in winter.

    These locations will keep you fully immersed in nature with incredible views. There are also four specific ski touring centers:

    Local’s Tip: If you want to save some money and still enjoy winter activities near Steamboat, head to Oak Creek. This small town is 21 miles away from Steamboat, and it offers free Nordic ski trails and free equipment. Use this Google Maps link to find the trailhead and shed full of free ski equipment.

    8. Attend A Music Festival

    One of my favorite parts about Steamboat Springs is the music scene. And why wouldn’t I love the music scene? Mike was the face of Steamboat music for years and years, headlining many of the music festivals around town.

    If you’re visiting Steamboat in the winter, you’ll be dazzled with many music festivals including:

    These festivals are located at the base of the mountain at Steamboat Resort.

    9. Ride In A Hot Air Balloon

    Contact & Book: Wild West Balloon Adventures

    If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable winter activity, you should definitely book a hot air balloon tour! Wild West Balloon Adventures is a family-run business in Steamboat, operating year-round.

    The best way to see Steamboat Springs is from high above in a hot air balloon

    Riding in a hot air balloon is a bucket-list-worthy experience. And what better way to take in the beautiful snow-covered mountains, valleys, and forests surrounding Steamboat Springs?

    Flights usually last 45 minutes, while the whole experience takes about 2 hours. Tours cost around $275 per person.

    9. Snowmobile Tours

    Contact & Book: Steamboat Snowmobile Tours

    For another adrenaline-pumping activity on the snow, you should check out Steamboat Snowmobile Tours. The team of expert tour operators provides a free shuttle service from your lodging to the beautiful Rabbit Ears Pass.

    Snowmobiling is a fun and fast way to enjoy the winter scenery around Steamboat Springs

    There are tours for all ages and abilities. So, whether it’s your first time on a snowmobile or you’re an expert rider, you’ll have a fun-filled day zooming through the snow in Routt National Forest on the Continental Divide.

    Helmets, gloves, snow bibs, and hot drinks are provided. And your guide will take you to some of the most scenic spots with plenty of photo opportunities.

    10. Go Snowshoeing on Rabbit Ears Pass

    Rabbit Ears is the iconic pass you go up and over driving into Steamboat on Highway 40. Not only is it full of hiking and biking trails in the summer, but it’s also home to some amazing powder-filled snowshoeing tracks.

    My dad snowshoeing at Pearl Lake State Park in winter.

    Most trails are marked and designated for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Depending on how much snowfall there has been, the trails can be full of untouched, fluffy powder or packed down. There are a number of snowshoe rental places in Steamboat such as Christy Sports and Ski Haus.

    Note: There are plenty of other places to go snowshoeing in and near Steamboat in the winter. Consider Pearl Lake State Park, Oak Creek, and Stagecoach Lake for more places to explore.

    11. Haymaker Sleigh Ride Dinner

    Getting There: Google Maps link to Haymaker Golf Course

    Golf course in summer and winter wonderland in winter, Steamboat Springs’ Haymaker Golf Course offers enchanting sleigh rides around its grounds.

    Two gorgeous draft horses will take you dashing through the snow across the rolling hills of the Yampa Valley, and you’ll be able to take in amazing views of the surrounding mountains.

    Take a sleigh ride around Steamboat Springs' beautiful Haymaker Golf Course in winter

    You can then get cozy inside the Haymaker Clubhouse and enjoy a delicious mountain-style 4-course dinner, gazing out at the sunset. Reservations must be made in advance and a private 2-person sleigh is also available on request.

    12. Rent Fat Tire Bikes

    If cycling is a favorite vacation pass-time of yours, great news. You can still enjoy this hobby in winter because Steamboat is a town full of avid cyclists (you’ll notice the hundreds of bikes around, hence our nickname, “Bike Town USA”), so there are many bike paths that are well-maintained throughout the year.

    You can rent a fat tire bike from one of Steamboat’s many bike shops and cycle along the Yampa River Core Trail. The Core Trail snakes along the Yampa River and takes you through downtown, all the way to the Howelsen Ski Area.

    As the snow starts to really dump in December, the Yampa River Core Trail is typically well-maintained throughout the winter, but be cautious of big snowfall days.

    13. Go Dog Sledding

    Contact & Book: Snow Buddy Sled Dogs

    Mush! You can drive your own team of sled dogs or go on a fully guided experience. The team at Snow Buddy Sled Dogs will take you on an epic adventure through the backcountry wilderness of Dunckley Pass in the Little Flat Tops mountains.

    Dog sledding is an incredible winter activity to do in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

    You will be involved in the whole experience, even harnessing and hooking up your team of dogs to the sled. During this half-day adventure, you will cover 12.5 miles of gorgeous winter scenery… and of course, you can get pictures with the adorable Alaskan huskies.

    14. Go Ice Skating

    Steamboat Resort has made many changes to its facilities over the years and one of the most extravagant additions is their beautiful ice rink in Ski Time Square.

    The new ski rink in Ski Time Square at Steamboat Resort.

    This winter activity is family-friendly, so bring the kids, rent skating equipment, and hop on the rink for a few laps. Finish your time by heading over to Timber & Torch for some hot chocolate or warm cocktails while watching the skiers zoom down the hill to the gondola.

    Local’s Tip: There’s also a free ice skating rink located in Oak Creek, the small town just 20-25 minutes from Steamboat Resort.

    Winter Skiing Options In Steamboat Springs

    Did you know Steamboat Springs has TWO skiing mountains? I didn’t know this before I moved to the town back in 2015. Here are your two options for skiing and snowboarding in Steamboat this winter:

    15. Ski & Snowboard On Mount Werner

    Getting There: Google Maps link to Steamboat Resort

    Steamboat Springs is nestled deep in the Rockies in northwest Colorado, along the Yampa River. The town sits at 6,695 feet, while the top of Mount Werner, Steamboat’s main ski mountain, reaches 10,570 feet, making this place a premier destination for champagne powder snow.

    Me and Mike skiing at Steamboat Resort.
    Skiing with our friends in Steamboat Springs in December.

    The Mount Warner ski area opened in 1963 and has 170 ski runs, accessible by 18 ski lifts. The main three lifts are the Gondola, Thunderhead Express, and Christie Peak Express. You can spend days exploring all the slopes and still not cover everything.

    There’s even more snow to cover if you enjoy backcountry skiing in the back bowls of Steamboat.

    Local’s Tip: For some extra fun, why not rent ski bikes? Yes, that’s right, bikes on skis. You can take your ski bike on lifts with you, and then ride it down the slopes. It’s an absolute blast!

    16. Ski & Snowboard On Howelsen Hill

    Getting There: Google Maps link to Howelsen Hill

    What most people don’t realize is that Steamboat has another little ski mountain called Howelsen Hill located in downtown (Steamboat Resort is NOT downtown, it is located approximately 5-10 minutes from downtown).

    Mike taking a break from skiing on Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat.

    Although Howelson Hill is much smaller, it still deserves attention. It’s actually Colorado’s oldest continuously operating ski area dating back to 1915. It also has the largest natural ski jumping complex in North America.

    Located across the Yampa river, opposite Steamboat’s downtown area, Howelson Hill is a fun day out for the whole family.

    And while it’s been the training ground (or snow we should say) for over 100 winter Olympians, it’s the perfect place for beginners to practice their ski or board skills, without all the crowds of Mount Werner.

    Note: The Howelson Hill ski area is completely free on Sundays. It’s the perfect way to save some extra money when visiting Steamboat.

    What To Do In Steamboat Springs In Winter: Indoors

    While Colorado gets plenty of winter sun, Steamboat Springs can get very cold in the winter – the average low in December is 4°F (-15.5°c). So, if you don’t feel like strapping on all your ski gear and want a little break from the harsh temperatures, here are some fun indoor activities to do in Steamboat:

    17. Attend A Concert At Schmiggity’s

    Getting There: Google Maps link to Schmiggity’s in downtown Steamboat

    Schmiggity’s is THE music venue in Steamboat Springs. It caters to locals and tourists alike. Our good friends, Pat and Kim, run this venue and bring in some pretty awesome artists.

    Mike performing at Schmiggity's in downtown Steamboat Springs.
    Mike performing at Schmiggity's.

    Whether you’re looking to participate in karaoke or see one of the many live bands, you can’t go wrong at Schmiggitys!

    Note: If you’re lucky, you might see Mike get on stage at Schmiggitys to play a song or two!

    18. Eat Food & Drink Beer At Steamboat Restaurants & Breweries

    There’s no shortage of delicious restaurants in Steamboat Springs. Fuel up after a long day of winter activities at some of our favorite places to eat:

    An Italian dish from Mazzola's restaurant in Steamboat Springs.
    Mountain Tap Brewery in Steamboat.

    There are also a few notable breweries to check out. Our favorite is Mountain Tap Brewery, but you might also enjoy Mahogany Ridge or Storm Peak Brewing.

    19. Go Bowling at Snow Bowl

    Getting There: Google Maps link to Snow Bowl Steamboat

    It opened its doors in 1977, but Snow Bowl Steamboat was completely remodeled in recent years. There are now 12 state-of-the-art bowling lanes that you can reserve for personal use, groups, or league play.

    Mike and our niece bowling at Snow Bowl Steamboat.

    Snow Bowl also has an extensive menu from hearty sandwiches to tacos to classic BBQ dishes. You should also keep an eye on their events page while you’re in town because Snow Bowl often hosts great concerts too.

    20. Drive Bumper Cars On Ice

    Getting There: Google Maps link to Howelsen Hill

    It’s probably been a while since you were last in a bumper car… and we bet you’ve never been in a bumper car on ice. Now you can book ice bumper car sessions at the Howelsen Ice Complex in Steamboat.

    This is a super fun activity for all ages. You can slide, spin and bump on the ice. Reservations are recommended as slots fill up fast and each ice bumper car session lasts 20 minutes. You can also rent ice skates and skate around the rink before or after the bumper cars.

    21. Visit The Crooked Key

    Getting There: Google Maps link to the Crooked Key

    If you want to put your brain to the test, you should definitely pay a visit to The Crooked Key, Steamboat’s very own escape room. Collaborate with family and friends to find clues and solve puzzles in one of the themed game rooms. You need to make it out in 1 hour or less!

    Playing an escape room game in Steamboat Springs Colorado in winter.

    Our friend Paul owns The Crooked Key and he’ll be sure to make your escape room experience professional and memorable. With 3 different game rooms to choose from, Steamboat’s escape room is a great venue for birthdays, bachelor parties, and other special occasions.

    22. Rock Climb At Old Town Hot Springs

    Getting There: Google Maps link to Old Town Hot Springs

    Whether you’re an experienced climber or a total beginner, you can put your skills to the test at the 37-foot climbing wall in downtown Steamboat Springs.

    It’s worth noting that this is a kid-friendly activity perfect for families. But, climbers must be within a 25-310-pound weight range and children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.

    Located inside the Old Town Hot Springs complex, access to the climbing wall is included with your gym day pass or membership.

    There are both auto-belay climbing and top rope climbing options. Weekly climbing classes are also available to book.

    23. Get A Massage / Visit A Spa

    Getting There: Our recommendation is Aspenwood, which you can find on Google Maps here

    After a few intense days on the slopes, a massage and spa treatment sounds ideal, right? Steamboat Springs has several spas to choose from. The luxury resorts like The Steamboat Grand or the Sheraton Resort have their own in-house spas, but we personally recommend Aspenwood.

    Aspenwood Massage and Spa.
    Getting pedicures with my friends in downtown Steamboat

    Additionally, Old Town Hot Springs is a great place to enjoy a professional massage, followed by a soak in the healing mineral waters of the springs.

    24. Go Shopping Downtown in Steamboat Springs

    Depending on how long you’re staying in Steamboat, we definitely recommend allowing yourself an afternoon just to wander along Lincoln Avenue and explore the boutique shops.

    A picture of my favorite store in Steamboat Springs, West Lyfe.
    A photo of clothes at FM Light & Sons in downtown.

    Downtown Steamboat is home to many independently owned stores, full of curiosities. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to unique gifts and souvenirs. Some of our favorite shops are:

    25. Enjoy Après Happy Hour With A View

    Whether you’ve been on the slopes all day or had a lazy afternoon, Slopeside Grill, Los Locos, or TBar are THE spots for happy hour. Located right at the base of Steamboat’s ski mountain, these ski-in-ski-out bars and restaurants offer incredible views of Mount Werner and surrounding peaks.

    The entrance to TBar, one of the best places for Apres Ski happy hour in Steamboat.

    Check for happy hour deals, live music on outdoor patios with heaters, and family-fun activities.

    When Is The Best Time To Visit Steamboat Springs?

    Steamboat Springs ski season usually runs from late October to the middle of April, depending on snowfall. So, you’ll be able to enjoy a winter wonderland and an awesome ski town vibe during this whole period.

    However, if you’re traveling to Steamboat on a budget, you should be more mindful of your dates and book in advance. There is no getting around it, Steamboat – like most other ski resorts – can get very expensive.

    The most expensive times to visit Steamboat during the winter are around the main holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and Easter (depending on the date).

    If you want to keep costs down and still enjoy all of Steamboat’s winter activities, we recommend visiting during weekdays, avoiding the major holidays, and avoiding the month of December.

    Mike and our friends skiing.
    Me snowboarding down a run in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

    But if money is not an issue and you’re fully prepared to splurge on your winter getaway, then do book your trip around the holidays and get involved in the local celebrations. In particular, New Year’s Eve is a huge event in Steamboat. Every year the fireworks show at Howelsen Hill gets better and better.

    Pro tip: When it comes to ski passes, costs can add up really fast. But if you want to save some money and still enjoy Steamboat’s amazing slopes, you can purchase discounted end-of-season 3-day passes.

    What Is The Weather Like In Steamboat Springs In Winter?

    Sitting at an elevation of 6,695ft with an average annual snowfall of 154 inches (the US average is 28 inches), Steamboat Springs definitely gets pretty chilly in winter. The coldest month in Steamboat is December with average daily highs of 35°F (2°c) and lows of 13°F (-11°c).

    Our niece with her snowman in Steamboat Springs.

    However, Steamboat has a dry climate, so it’s not a nasty, damp cold. As long as you have a good ski jacket, hat, gloves, and warm socks, you’ll keep nice and toasty.

    Steamboat also gets lots of glorious bluebird days with plenty of winter sun. Even in the middle of winter, people sit outside and bask in the warm rays. But as soon as the sun goes down, you’ll want to get cozy next to a fireplace.

    Note: Driving around Steamboat Springs in winter is not for the faint of heart. Whether you’re from a place that experiences a lot of snow or not, Steamboat’s winters are not to be messed with.

    A plow clearing the road on Rabbit Ears Pass in winter.
    Driving through a blizzard on Rabbit Ears Pass in winter.

    The Wrap-Up: Best Things To Do In Steamboat Springs In Winter

    Steamboat Springs truly is an incredible place year-round, but the town really comes to life in the winter. Whether you want to spend your entire trip tearing up the champagne powder, soak in the hot springs or go on snowy hikes, Steamboat has something for everyone.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this list of winter activities and learning more about this magical ski town. Start planning an epic winter vacation to Steamboat now!

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