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Things To Do In Steamboat Springs: Explore Hot Springs, Hiking, Cycling, Local Food, And More!

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

This post is sponsored by Visit Colorado

 

As I learned on a recent getaway I took with my husband, Colorado offers incomparable natural beauty, especially when the leaves are changing colors, and there’s so much to do during the fall.


TLDR: Colorado is absolutely gorgeous!

An old ski lift with skis attached to the four corners is mounted on a concrete base on a grassy sidewalk area in Steamboat Springs, CO
A decomissioned ski lift in Steamboat Springs

On our visit, we explored Steamboat Springs, a town of less than 15,000 people a few hours from Denver. Visitors from all over the world come to Steamboat, particularly for winter sports activities. There are multiple ski resorts in the area and it's a popular destination for athletes and enthusiasts alike.


While I already know I want to go back in the colder months and get a taste of Steamboat Springs when there’s snow, I personally think the winter travelers are missing out. Steamboat in the fall (and spring) has ideal weather for exploring the outdoors, soaking in area hot springs, enjoying patio season at local restaurants, and getting that balance of nature and sun and breeze that just makes you feel carefree.


How To Get There

Steamboat Springs is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Denver Airport (DEN). Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN) is also located in Steamboat, though as a smaller regional airport it offers fewer flight options. Once in Steamboat Springs, there is a free bus service that connects the shops and restaurants downtown and the ski areas. I’d recommend renting a car for most visitors though, especially if you want to take advantage of area hikes or exploration that will take you away from downtown.


What To Do In Steamboat Springs

Anela and her bae sit together in the water at the hot springs smiling
Anela and her husband at Strawberry Hot Springs

Check out area hot springs! There are two geothermal springs in Steamboat. The Old Town Hot Springs is in the heart of town and has a full recreation facility as well. There’s also Strawberry Hot Springs, which we hiked to and loved!


Our roundtrip hike to Strawberry Hot Springs, not counting our soak, took us about two and a half hours, though we were moving quickly to make it in time for activities we planned afterward. I’d plan for it to take three to three and a half hours at a more leisurely pace. To access the trail: Park at lot the Mad Creek Trailhead, which is listed on Google Maps. Then backtrack using the footpath on the side of the road for about ¼ of a mile. You’ll see a driveway with a post marked 44320. Head up that drive and follow the signs for the hot springs. From there the trail is well-marked and easy to follow!


Strawberry Hot Springs is also a short drive from downtown and accessible by car or shuttle as well if you don’t want to hike in. Visitors should make a reservation to visit Strawberry Hot Springs in advance as there is limited capacity. In addition, massages are available at Strawberry Springs and should be scheduled in advance.


Explore local hiking trails. There are numerous area hiking trails to explore while in Steamboat Springs, with something for all fitness levels. Whether you’re hiking for a few hours or on a more extensive adventure, be sure to plan and prepare adequately for your safety and Do Colorado Right by practicing leave no trace principles.


Anela stands behind a bike smiling on the trail in Steamboat Springs, CO
Anela on a rented ebike along the Yampa Core Trail

Explore by bike! Steamboat Springs is also called Bike Town USA for is extensive cycling infrastructure and activities. We rode on the Yampa River Core Trail, a 7.5-mile paved path that parallels the Yampa River through the heart of town and had a blast while we visited. It felt very safe and accessible to me as a newer cyclist who still gets anxious riding on roads. Plus, there were fabulous views, gardens, and more to explore along the trail. Steamboat Springs offers gravel riding, road biking, mountain biking, and more for all skill levels. There are also numerous shops in town which offer rental bikes for visitors.


Take in Steamboat Springs from a new vantage point in a hot air balloon. Our hot air balloon ride with Wild West Balloon Adventures was a first for me and it was so incredibly peaceful in the air. I loved being able to take in the area from above and it just cemented how pretty Steamboat Springs really is! If you’re like me and not a fan of heights, know that the ride is pretty smooth and while it may be scary the views are definitely worth it.


Where To Eat In Steamboat Springs

A waffle topped with whipped cream, berries, and granola sits on a plate on a sun soaked tabletop
A waffle from Yampa Valley Kitchen

Yampa Valley Kitchen: We enjoyed Yampa Valley Kitchen so much that we went back for a second visit during our short trip. This restaurant sources its ingredients locally and offers a fabulous brunch that goes until 3 pm on weekends, a coffee bar with really creative drinks for your caffeine fix, and a full range of cocktails and zero-proof cocktails, bubbly, wine, and juices. Plus, there's a really great patio!


Aurum: Located on the Yampa River, Aurum has a gorgeous riverside deck that’s perfect for a date night or post-adventure meal with friends. The daily happy hour menu also includes food options. My favorite dish was the Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon which was perfectly cooked with crispy skin and an infinitely tender, melt-in-your-mouth center.


Winona’s: This popular downtown brunch spot gets busy but it's worth it for well-executed breakfast and lunch staples. The massive cinnamon rolls are a favorite and shareable between two or three people if you’re feeling generous.


Dusky Grouse: For coffee lovers, check out Dusky Grouse for a low-waste, community-oriented shop that serves excellent coffee! Tucked away in a little plaza towards the edge of town, this coffee shop would also be an excellent spot to take a break, read, and relax in between other adventures.


I left Steamboat Springs already plotting how I would get back with my husband or with friends, thinking of winter adventures and early summer backpacking in the area. This is truly a Colorado gem!


If you have any questions about any of the places I visited please drop them below. I’m happy to help as much as I can based on my experience.


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