Steamboat Springs for the Family
Steamboat Springs offers families numerous activities where parents and children can create adventures with memories that will last a lifetime. Steamboat also has several family-friendly restaurants that offer children's menus.
Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center — Pools and water slide
The Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center offers kids and parents a place where they can act like … kids. The center features several pools that kids will love, including a warm springs swimming pool, an Olympic-size lap pool with a diving area, and two children's play pools that feature giant animals for kids to climb on. For the parents, the center has two mineral pools for a relaxing soak. Children and adults can also take a twisty-turney ride down the center's water slide. Parents who forgot to pack the swimming supplies don't have to worry; the Health and Recreation Center rents bathing suits, towels and chairs.
Scenic Gondola Rides
Anyone can take a scenic gondola ride at the Steamboat Ski Area. There's no experience required, and the ride offers a birds-eye view of the Yampa Valley. Once you've arrived at the top, it's up to you how much exercise you get. Adventurous families can take a hike along the nature trails where there's plenty of room for children and dogs to run around. Those looking for a little R & R can pick a lounge chair in the sun. The Thunderhead Lodge at the top of the gondola offers necessary amenities, such as beverage service, restrooms and shopping.
Howelsen Hill Ice Arena
Even during the summer parents and children can rent skates and burn off some energy on the Olympic-size ice at the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena. The indoor arena also features bench seats for those who would rather watch the action from the sidelines. The ice arena is located in downtown Steamboat Springs, and parking is available outside the building.
Tubing and rafting are two great ways for families to cool off and view the local scenery. Steamboat has several rafting companies to choose from, and their experienced guides can direct you to the right river trip, as well as down the river. There are also several retailers who rent tubes, some of which even drop tubers off and pick them up at the end of their journeys.
The cowboy is the icon of the West, and visitors can experience a true Western tradition simply by taking a horseback ride. Future cowboys and cowgirls, as young as 2 years old, can participate on some of the rides. Steamboat has plenty of riding outfitters to choose from, so visitors can finds horses and rides to fit their ability levels. Some ranches offer multi-day pack trips, as well as day-long or hour-long rides.
Every weekend from late June to Labor Day, professional cowboys and cowgirls compete in bareback riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, team roping, cowgirls barrel racing and bull riding. Families can make an evening of the event by playing in the children's playground, having dinner at the arena and listening to the country music. The arena also has plenty of room for restless children to run around.
Families who want to explore the Steamboat Springs area by their own pedal power can choose from several trails, including the paved Yampa River Core Trail, which is great for younger children. Non-paved trails range from single track to dirt roads. Families with older children will enjoy the gondola-accessed trails at the Steamboat Ski Area, which offer an exciting downhill ride to the base area.
Hiking — it's basically just walking through the woods — but this simple activity is a great way for families to spend time together and explore Steamboat's alpine environment. In the Yampa Valley, the hiking possibilities are endless. Some family favorites include Fish Creek Falls, Hahn's Peak, Emerald Mountain and the hike to the "rabbit ears" on Rabbit Ears Pass. The Steamboat Ski Area also offers gondola-accessed hiking and nature trails. Families can ride the gondola up the ski hill to the one-mile Vista Nature Trail loop or take the Thunderhead Hiking Trail down to the base of the ski area.
Yampatika, a local nature store, offers family-oriented guided nature hikes. Visit www.yampatika.org or more information or call 970.871.9151. The local hiking guide "Hiking the 'Boat II" by Diane White-Crane (Aspentree Press, 2001) also has several suggestions for family hikes.
Steamboat Springs has two reservoirs for fishing and boating, both of which feature swimming areas. Steamboat Lake (1,053 acres) is located about 45 minutes north of Steamboat Springs in Steamboat Lake State Park. Its full-service marina offers canoe, kayak and boat rentals, and a general store with fishing and camping supplies. The lake's swimming and beach areas offer great views of Hahn's Peak and other mountains. Stagecoach Reservoir at Stagecoach State Park (780 acres), another hot spot for fishing and boating, also features a full-service marina. Both state parks offer camping.
Steamboat's Amaze'n maze and miniature golf course is unique entertainment for the entire family. The maze is giant wild labyrinth where family members can race each other through the twists and turns to the finish. On hot summer days, visitors can rent squirt guns for more cool maze fun. Amaze'n also features an 18-hole miniature golf course. Phone: 970.870.8682
The Howler Alpine Slide
Visitors looking for some speedy excitement can take a ride on The Howler, Steamboat Springs' alpine slide. Riders can take a scenic ride via chairlift to the top of Howelsen Hill then climb aboard wheeled sleds and head down a 2,400-foot, luge-like track on the face of the Howelsen Hill Ski Area. Small children and adults can ride down on the same sleds if they wish. Phone: 970.871.1104
Slingshot Bungee Tramp and Eastface Climbing Wall
Last summer the Steamboat Ski Area added a bungee tramp and a climbing wall to its base area, and they were a hit with families.
The Slingshot Bungee Tramp is a safe and fun way to experience "big-air" in the mountains. It combines bungee jumping with a trampoline to offer a safe, controlled environment. Suitable for most children ages 3 and up.
The Eastface Climbing Wall allows families to test their skills on a 24-foot wall with several routes, from beginner to expert. All climbers are safely secured with an automatic belay system and an adjustable harness. Suitable for most children ages 5 and up.