Summer fun in Ski Town U.S.A., Steamboat Springs

Enjoy family adventures while ticking off items on the Summer Boat List.

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Widely known as a winter wonderland, aka “Ski Town U.S.A.,” Steamboat Springs is as much a favorite warm-weather destination for locals as it is during ski season. Despite its wealth of summertime offerings, however, my family’s annual visits comprise a fairly predictable itinerary of timeless favorites: a ride down The Howler alpine slide, hike to Fish Creek Falls and soak in the Old Town Hot Springs.

So during our recent summer trip there, we opted for some new experiences from the Steamboat Summer Boat List, outlining 30 can’t-miss experiences that includes my family’s three standby activities. Next time, shake up your own Steamboat visit with some of our newest #BoatList experiences:    

1.     Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) at Pearl Lake State Park—This hidden, picturesque gem located roughly 30 miles north of Steamboat Ski Resort is a no-wake zone, offering a peaceful, motor-free setting for endless water activities like SUPing. Even better? On-site vendor Steamboat Paddleboard Adventure rents out boards, starting at $35 for 4 hours, right from the shore. Campsites/yurts also available. And if you have time before returning to town, head about 7 miles northwest to nearby Steamboat Lake State Park for a picnic lunch. 

2.     Float the Yampa River—I’m almost ashamed to say it’s taken nearly a decade of summertime trips for us to experience this Steamboat rite of “passage,” a refreshing, 2-mile tube ride along the Yampa. A family-friendly activity that takes about 90 minutes, depending on the time of year and whether you stop at one of the many riverside restaurants like Creekside Cafe, my kids loved the gentle rapids and occasional splashes as we floated along the cool river.

But tubers beware: Kids should wear a lifejacket in the likely event they pop out of the tube (as both kids did). As well, consider renting from an outfitter like Backdoor Sports so you can rent river shoes and store your non-waterproof belongings (read: cell phones and wallets). A shuttle returns you from your put-out site to your starting point. 

3.     Attend the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo—Billed as the country’s most successful weekly rodeo, this summer tradition boasts a history of more than 100 years. Running every Friday and Saturday from mid-June to mid-August, the rodeo includes an F.M. Light & Sons-sponsored Calf Scramble, where kids ages 6-12 run willy-nilly through Brent Romick Arena in pursuit of a ribbon-adorned calf. (Kids 5 and under run the Ram Scramble.) An unforgettable event for both kids and parents alike. For more information, go to steamboatprorodeo.com.

Where to eat? We also tried two new-to-us eateries, starting with yummy picnic sandwiches from Cruisers Sub Shop. For breakfast, we waited 45 minutes for a table at downtown’s popular Winona’s, home of world-famous, drowning-in-frosting cinnamon rolls. Definitely worth the wait. 

NEW! Check out the town's newest activity, riding the Outlaw Mountain Coaster, the longest in North America. 

Visit the Steamboat Chamber site to begin your #BoatList trip.