Do you ski?
One of the first three questions I’m asked once people learn we now live in Denver.
I then try to mumble through something like, oh we’ve tried a few times or I hope to learn. At which point they launch into a death defying story of how they crashed down the mountain, tore their ACL, broke a femur and were on crutches for 4 months.
At which point, I realize that I may try skiing, but it’s not a priority.
Running, hiking, walking, things that don’t involve immense amounts of pain are a priority.
All of that is to say, our weekend in Steamboat Springs was fabulous without a single second on the slopes! Though when we back in the summer, the slopes will be perfect for hiking and mountain biking.
In case you’re headed there or simply enjoy me rambling on about wonderful adventurers, here’s the scoop.
The city of Steamboat Springs was actually larger than some of the other mountain towns we’ve visited, which made David feel more comfortable. Per our camping disaster, I think he just liked knowing anything he needed as available.
A cute downtown is home to local restaurants from organic juices to BBQ and great western themed stores. Just beyond that you’ll find your Wal-Mart, grocery stores and chain restaurants on the way to the ski slopes. Downtown you’ll also find a number of great parks and a paved path that runs for miles and miles along the water. Making it the perfect running spot when trails are muddy or icy. Per usual we spent a lot of time exploring the town and these paths, but there was no testing the very cold waters though you could certainly go tubing or kayaking.
When it came to picking a hotel, we were in luck as April is off season so anywhere was a great bargain. The main feature needed was a great hot tub and Steamboat Grand provided that plus mountain views.
David could spend days hunkered down in any body of water, which means we absolutely made use of their 2 outdoor hot tubs and heated pool daily.However this was not enough water for him, so one of our first fun stops was the reason this town has its name.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs
While there are small bubbling stinky sulfur hot springs around town, the real action is Strawberry Hot Springs. $15-$20 per adult, you then have access to the area for the entire day.
Not only is it wonderfully relaxing, but according to ancient medicine, soaking in hot springs increases your blood flow, circulation, metabolism, and absorption of essential minerals.
A few fun notes:
- It doesn’t smell, which was odd to me and much appreciated.
- It wasn’t insanely hot, which at first I disliked because it was chilly outside. However, the temperature was actually perfect for lounging around a few hours without feeling overheated.
- Located up a mountain road, don’t attempt this in winter without a 4×4.
- The parking lot is tiny, which is great because the pools aren’t that big…but if you get there and it’s full there is no where to go. Consider one of the shuttle options from town during the busy season.
- There is a changing cabin and restrooms, so you can get out of wet clothes after your dip.
- I wish there was an adult only area, just like the hotel hot tub!
It’s not the only game in town though! Checkout my thoughts on our next visit where we stopped by Old Town Hot Springs.
Fish Creek Falls
Sunday morning we woke up to roaring winds and a fat flakes falling from the sky, which was in stark contrast to the 70 degrees we’d left behind in Denver.
But it turns out that little bit of snow made our trek to Fish Creek Falls all the more gorgeous! Literally it looked like a black and white photo, but with that whoosh of water breaking up the silence.
Unfortunately that snow also meant we couldn’t see any of the trail markers, so we didn’t get too deep in to the forest. Instead we ogled this gorgeous 280 foot waterfall and then headed off to find more well marked trails. Since many of you noted on Instagram that you’d freeze to death, I do want to comment on my gear because I was solid and for someone who is generally cold that says a lot!
How to layer for cold?
Over the course of this weekend, we hiked, walked and snowshoed, which all required different things not because the temperature changed, but simply due to high winds or bountiful sunshine.
- Base layer for legs and upper body is always a must. These layers are designed to wick moisture off your skin, which can make you feel colder as you work hard and yet they’re thermal unlike your normal dry fit.
- Balaclava – This is one of my favorite pieces of Under Armour gear. It’s just so multi-use! You can pull it up over your mouth and head when super cold or you can put it down and keep just your neck warmer.
- Waterproof pants – I opt to not due the insulated one’s because I like to manage my layers. But I want to know when I topple on my bum it won’t be wet all day! Additionally these are great for cutting the wind.
- UA Cold Gear Infrared Revy Jacket- Same deal for my upper body! The wind breaker is a MUST have in the mountains and the waterproof component means it’s no big deal to be out while it’s snowing. Plus it’s got this cool technology “thermo-conductive inner coating to absorb & retain your own body heat”.
- Layer the gloves too! I like to do a thin layer and then a big waterproof glove.
Moral of the story: LAYER.
Seriously no filter! It was just a morning that looked like a Ansel Adams photo.
Anyhow after there we headed off to another trail and then finally you guessed it, back to the hot tubs!
Rabbit Ears Pass
Our plan had been to head up to Rabbit Ears Pass for snowshoeing on Sunday, but the snow caused us to rethink that plan and that was to our great fortune as there was a large crash and the pass closed.
Apparently, this is the snowiest place in all of Colorado! Hence it being the perfect pristine place to snowshoe in April when the weather has been swooping from high to low weekly. Since this is outside of town, it’s a bit like wandering off to the middle of no where. With that much snow, you’ll rarely see anything resembling a trail marker…so you go and you enjoy.
Unlike Alaska or Iceland, where we were warned about hidden crevasses here that’s not really an issue. While we did come across a large creek that was thawing it was visible and we didn’t worry about suddenly finding ourselves immersed in an ice bath.We did find tracks left by a lone cross country skiier and used them to help us explore a bit more. At 9,000 feet, I admit to being winded after about an hour and as David said his bum was on fire because it’s a serious workout!
We went another hour or so and later realized it was much harder for me because I’d been wearing his snowshoes which were too large for me! Presumably that means extra calories burned and therefore warranted a large chocolate chip cookie on the rest of the drive home.
Have you ever been snowshoeing?
Do you love to ski?
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