Visitors can’t get enough of Steamboat in winter or summer as there is so much to do in the mountains whatever the weather. The town is geared up for tourists with ample accommodation and restaurants so it’s no surprise that it’s a draw for travellers, who revel in its wild west ambience.
One of the highlights of the calendar is the Winter Carnival, an event now in its 101st year and a chance for the town to celebrate its heritage. We were lucky to be in town during the carnival and what struck us was the level of community involvement. What began a century ago as a chance for residents to try and shrug off the hardships of winter, has become a showcase, in particular, for the town’s young athletes.
I don’t think many places in the world shut off their main street, saddle up the horses and tow little children along on skis or have a parade where a band play as they ski down the road. Lincoln Avenue is the location for many of the street events: anyone fancy Nordic Sprint, donkey jump or the adult shovel race? The rest of the fun happens at the Howelsen Hill ski area, with particular focus on the numerous ski jumps.
|Night Extravaganza during the Winter Carnival.|
Dougie and I caught the hotel shuttle into town to see the Night Extravaganza at Howelsen Hill. The whole town had gathered at the base of the ski jumps, wrapped up against the freezing temperatures, to support their children, who, in their hundreds, were involved in the nighttime exhibition of their skills. From teeny toddlers upwards, the kids came careering down the mountainside, many of them waving flares, as their families cheered. It was absolutely incredible and certainly put my hesitant green run efforts to shame.
Here’s a very short clip of some of the children on the jumps:
The older children soared through fiery hoops and the famous Lighted Man came hurtling down the slopes, lit with flares and LED lights to encouraging whoops from the crowd. The evening ended with an impressive firework display which crackled across the sky. What a night!
As an antidote to all that excitement, and to soothe our aching limbs after four days of skiing, we took a trip to Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a short drive from Steamboat. Its position on the Continental Divide means that this area of the Rockies is bubbling. My experience of hot springs is limited to Iceland and I remember the Blue Lagoon as a fascinating place but in a peculiarly industrialised setting, linked as it is to the geothermal power station next door. Rules were quite strict there: a good scrub in the showers was mandatory before entering the water.
In Strawberry Park, everything is so much more relaxed. Saunter down the path to the pools, change in a tipi if you like or just throw your clothes on a seat before deciding which of the natural pools, of varying temperatures up to 102 degrees F, you would like to wallow in. This place is off-grid, so no hairdryers or socket to charge your phone. Instead, let the hot steamy water work its magic whilst you soak up the utterly beautiful scenery. Once the sun goes down, it’s adults only and swimsuits are optional. Bring a torch if you really want to see what you’re doing….
|Strawberry Park Hot Springs|
Other posts about our trip to Colorado:
Flying high to Denver
Learning to ski at Winter Park
Where to eat in Winter Park
Skiing in Steamboat Springs
This trip was organised for us by the resorts of Winter Park and Steamboat Springs. Accommodation, ski rental, lessons and lift passes were complimentary as were my flights and some meals. Dougie paid for his own flights.