Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

best For: Families hoping to groom the next Bode Miller

Executive summary by darmansjah

Though it hosts one of Colorado’s largest and most well-known ski resorts, the town of Steamboat Springs, population 12,088, has a character that is unique in the state. Northern Colorado is ranching country, and Steamboat is still an authentic, working cowboy town that has evolved into one of the most important ski towns in America. You won’t find cutesy false-front stores here, but you will find the city-owned Howelsen Hill, the longest continuously operating ski area in Colorado, where the town’s Winter Sports Club practices on seven wooden ski jumps contoured out of the mountain. There’s also a Winter Carnival every February, when truckloads of snow are dumped on the town’s broad main street for ski-joring competitions and a high school band that comes through on skis.

Three miles away, rising high above the Yampa River Valley, is the Steamboat Ski Resort, spreading white ribbons across a forested massif of six rounded peaks. Though offering less puckering expert terrain than some areas in the state, what Steamboat does deliver is its signature light powder, world-class tree skiing, and snowboarding through endless groves of aspen. The ski school is considered one of the best in the country, and Steamboat claims to have produced 79 Olympic skiers and snowboarders, more than any town in America.

Ask a Local

Ski-racing legend Billy Kidd, Steamboat’s longtime director of skiing, was the first American ski racer to medal at the Olympics, netting a silver medal in 1964. (Teammate Jimmie Heuga won a bronze in the same race.) He’s 68 but claims he skis like a 67-year-old. Here are his recommendations.

Best Digs
Budget: The Rabbit Ears motel is right downtown and directly across the street from hot springs.
Swank: The Sheraton is literally about a hundred feet from the bottom of the gondolas.

Best Eats
Cheap: Slopeside Grill at the bottom of the mountain is good for burgers and beer or pizza.
Gourmet: Harwigs L'Apogeé in town has a great wine list.

Best After-Ski Party Spot
Tugboat is the old locals place where the ski patrol goes to hang out after the end of the day. There’s live music.

Best Rest-Day Activity
Almost no other ski area in America has hot springs right near the bottom of the mountain. The hot spring in town is a pool with waterslides and is good for kids. Strawberry Park is a natural hot springs five miles outside of town, with rustic log cabins for rent.

Steamboat’s Classic Ski Run
“When we get powder, my favorite area to go to is the Shadows, which is up on top in the trees, so when you start down you’re above tree line, then you go into pine trees, then into aspen trees,” says Kidd. “Beginners and intermediates don’t go there, so it really holds the powder. Also, it faces west, so if you ski it the afternoon you get that great light the photographers love.”

No comments:

Post a Comment