My family and I have been to Steamboat Springs ski resort many times, but ironically it’s always been in the summertime. It’s a great mountain and town to explore during the warmer months, as I discuss in my post Steamboat Springs in the summer.
This time, however, I wanted to show my girls Steamboat Springs ski resort (AKA, Ski Town U.S.A) during the winter, and actually ski! They’ve skied many times on the East Coast, and it was finally time to show them what out west skiing was all about. And if you’re a skier, well then you know, it’s a totally different ballgame!
I have skied at Steamboat Springs ski resort a few times before in the past with my parents and siblings, and was excited to take my own family now. With a reputation as one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in the country, I thought Steamboat would be the perfect first western mountain to take my kids to. As it turns out, it was. We had a phenomenal trip and will definitely be returning. Here are the reasons why people, like us, love Steamboat Springs ski resort.
Reasons Why People Love Steamboat Springs Ski Resort
“Champagne Powder” Snow
One of the main things that sets out-west skiing apart from east coast skiing is the snow – or rather, the fresh powder. But did you know that the powder at Steamboat Springs ski resort is even more special? Nicknamed “Champagne powder”, the percentage of water in the snow in Steamboat Springs (6%) is much lower than other ski areas (15%), making it truly one of the most enviable types of snow to ski in, in the country. “Champagne powder” has long been a term used to characterize the snow here (because the sprinkle of powder on your nose feels just like champagne bubbles), to the point that Steamboat Springs ski resort went so far as to trademark the term. Proud bunch they are! And rightfully so. People love the snow in Steamboat, and come from all over to ski the mountain…including our very own Olympians.
Yes, Steamboat Springs ski resort is home to several Olympians. In fact, Steamboat Springs has produced more Olympians than anywhere else in the country! 89 athletes and counting, that is. In 2014 the ski town sent 14 athletes to the Olympics, and according to Steamboat Springs ski resort’s website, there is 1 Olympian per every 136 people! People love that about this mountain. It’s like the old saying – if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us…if it’s good enough for the Olympians, it’s good enough for us! If you’re a ski lover, a snow boarder, a snow jumper, or any other sport that involves snow, you can’t help but help fall in love with the quality of snow in Steamboat Springs.
Friendly People and Staff
If there’s one thing you’ll hear over and over about Steamboat Springs, it’s how nice the people are. Steamboat has always been and still is a ranching town, a real western gem in the middle of America’s heartland. No pretensions here like some other fancy Colorado towns, the people are genuine and down to earth. This unpretentious nature can be found throughout the resort, from the townspeople to the staff.
The Steamboat Springs ski resort staff are exceptionally friendly, and the customer service top notch. Honestly, I didn’t have one bad experience. From the ticket sales line to the instructors to the restaurant staff, everyone was so accommodating and nice. I at one point left my cell phone at the group lesson window, but couldn’t remember where the window was, so went to the Help center. A staff member named Kevin helped me locate it and was the nicest guy ever. He preceded to talk to me about the mountain and told me all the good spots to go to eat, as well as some informational tidbits not everyone may know. Steamboat Springs prides itself on excellent staff, and it should – it’s a major reason why people love visiting this resort.
Excellent Kids Programs
Don’t let the Olympic factor intimidate you – Steamboat Springs ski resort is a mountain for all ages and levels. There are a variety of trails to suit any type of skier, and plenty of programs for kids, adults, and beginners no matter what the age. The Kids Vacation Center at Steamboat is fabulous. They’ve made it super easy for families – you can buy lift tickets, lessons and rentals in one location. Ski school is for kids ages 2 and up but they also have a daycare for younger kids.
There is also the Kids Ski Free and Grandkids Ski Free program at Steamboat. When parents or grandparents purchase a 5 day or more pass, kids 12 and under get to ski free those same days. As for us, we hired an instructor named Michelle for a private group lesson and she was, simply, awesome. My kids are for all intents and purposes – especially out west – beginners and I was a little nervous about how they would do on the mountain. Michelle whisked them away and I never looked back. They loved her. She was spunky and fun, but most importantly she was an excellent teacher and my girls improved their skiing by leaps and bounds.
Off the Beaten Path
Steamboat Springs ski resort is in the northwestern part of Colorado, and serviced by a small airport called Hayden airport. The closest big airport is Denver International, which is three hours away. Flying into Hayden isn’t always so easy. For example, I believe there is 1 direct flight a day from New York to Hayden. Don’t quote me on that, as things are always changing, but the pickings are slim. As a result, however, Steamboat is more off the beaten path and not as crowded as some other mountains. Which means…no super long lines! Or at least not as long as some of the other popular ski mountains. That is such a bonus in my book…I am impatient and hate waiting around forever to board a chairlift. Who doesn’t!
Steamboat’s Tree Trails
When I asked my brother what his favorite thing about the Steamboat ski resort was, he said the tree trails. Steamboat is known for its adventurous and excellent tree trail skiing, and the pure quantity of tree trails. Some say it’s the best tree trail skiing around. Just be cautious and use common sense, though (especially with kids), as these trails are not marked and could be a bit dangerous in parts.
Good Dining Options
Whether you’re at the base of the mountain at Gondola Square, or at Thunderhead Lodge, Rendevous Saddle Lodge, or Four Points, there are some really great options for ski in/ski out dining. Hazie’s at Thunderhead Lodge offers a good menu (including a $25 all you can eat buffet) and cocktail list, along with amazing views. Ragnar’s is famous for its nighttime sleigh rides to its restaurant. And down below, Slopeside, Paramount, the Truffle Pig and Bear River Bar and Grill are the spots to go for an après drink and food; Bear River has live music and is always hopping.
As for eating with kids, our ski instructor Michelle informed me that all restaurants on the mountain (except for the cafeteria at Thunderhead) offer a kids menu with good prices. She took us to the restaurant Rye, near Slopeside. Sophisticated, good food, and surprisingly not crowded, this restaurant up until a year ago used to be a private club and many people don’t know it’s now a public restaurant! Nearby (not necessarily for the kids although we took our kids there) is the excellent Café Diva, the best restaurant in Steamboat according to many people. Our meal was delicious and could compete with the best big city restaurants any day.
This section sort of sums up my post, and that is the convenience factor. Steamboat Springs ski resort is very easy. There is lodging right on the mountain (the Steamboat Grand, Sheraton Hotel, and several condominium complexes, to name a few) as well as in downtown Steamboat, of which all offer shuttle services. There are plenty of dining options on the mountain, and if you’re a family with kids, the Kids Vacation Center, being a 1 stop deal, makes it super easy to navigate with young ones in tow. The ski resort is set up so that everything is right at your fingertips.
Finally, there are plenty of other winter activities to do while on vacation in Steamboat, as well as the cute town of Steamboat Springs itself. Think hot springs, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, even Steamboat resort’s own mountain coaster…all coming up in my next post on things to do in Steamboat besides skiing!
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