Water Activities in Steamboat Springs
Where the Yampa runs through Steamboat, fun for the whole family is sure to be had
Nestled in the Yampa Valley and surrounded by the Rockies, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is known for its mountain sports: skiing in winter, hiking or biking in summer—and water sports. The town was named by French trappers in the early 1800s who heard a chug-chug- chug reminiscent of a steam engine, which turned out to be a spring bursting from the earth. The area is full of so many hot springs, there is a Springs of Steamboat Springs Walking Tour. In addition to soaking in hot springs, there are myriad ways to enjoy Steamboat’s waters.
Hot Springs: The Steamboat Springs area boasts many hot springs, including Old Town Hot Springs, located right in the center of town. Another favorite, just a short drive from town on Country Road 36, Strawberry Park Hot Springs is touted as “one of the most spectacular mineral springs in the world.” Not only are the 102- degree waters relaxing, soaking in one of the terraced pools after a day of skiing or hiking is just what the doctor ordered for tired muscles. Strawberry Park’s stone masonry blends with the surrounding landscape as if the pools and walkways formed while the valley itself took shape. Reservations are required.
Floating: The Yampa River winds right through downtown Steamboat, and on hot summer days, a popular activity is to slip on water shoes, don a bathing suit and hop on an inner tube. Outfitters located downtown can supply you with tubes and life jackets and shuttle you
to a place to put in your watercraft. Floats last between one and three hours, depending on where you start and end your journey. Gentle, kid-friendly rapids and standing waves add some excitement along the way.
Fly-fishing: Inner tubing down the Yampa might not be recommended in colder months, but fly-fishing is available year-round, as long as you bundle up. The waters around Steamboat are home to rainbow trout, browns, cutthroats, brookies and whitefish.
Steamboat’s popular fly-fishing shop, Steamboat Flyfisher, offers everything fly-fishers will need, from gear to guided tours. “We’ll cater the trip to your group and match the guide to your needs,” says Wes Fout, fly-fishing guide. “The important thing is that you have fun.” Whether it’s on public or private water, there’s no better way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors than on the river, fly rod in hand. “Anywhere within 15 to 45 minutes of downtown there are amazing fishing opportunities, and you can be back in time for happy hour or a nice dinner,” says Fout. Guests enjoy being on the glittering, serene river, surrounded by nature. And catching fish is a bonus.
Steamboat Springs is accessed by Yampa Valley Regional Airport (28 miles west of downtown Steamboat Springs) or a three-hour drive from Denver.
ACCESSING THE WATER
Strawberry Park Hot Springs 44200 Co. Rd. 36. Reservations required, $20 cash per person. Bus service is available to Strawberry Hot Springs from local tour companies.
Old Town Hot Springs 136 S. Lincoln Ave. No reservations required, $27 daily rate.
Additional Information is available on the town website, steamboatsprings.net, complete with a map to a walking tour of area hot springs.
Steamboat Flyfisher 35 5th St. Rates vary. Additional private water trips available.
Backdoor Sports 841 Yampa St. Reservations recommended for large groups. Rental tubes available for $18, includes a shuttle ride back to the drop-in location. Approximately one-hour ride. Water shoes required.
Bucking Rainbow Outfitters 730 Lincoln Ave. Reservations recommended for large groups. Rental tubes available for $23, includes a shuttle ride back to the tube shack.
“I love Steamboat Springs,” says Mountain Living Editor in Chief Darla Worden, “Here are a few of my favorite things to do.”
The Mad Creek Trailhead is about 5 miles north of Steamboat on Routt County 129, also known as Elk River Road. The trail takes you to an old homestead with one of the best antique barns in the area.
Cowboys and Indians
Large selection of authentic Western jewelry
617 Lincoln Ave.
F.M. Light & Sons
The iconic Western wear store (you’ll see their signs as you drive into town). Check out their cowboy hats.
830 Lincoln Ave.
A fun, casual atmosphere on the banks of the Yampa River.
729 Yampa St.