Ten Reasons to Visit Steamboat Springs in the Autumn

I profiled the Tread of Pioneers Museum in a companion article, but my recent visit to Steamboat Springs reminded me of all the great activities people can do all year round (besides the obvious skiing, of course). Here are ten things to do this fall:

  1. History Happy Hour. The Tread of Pioneers Museum sponsors this fun event the first Tuesday of every month, from October through April. Hang out for happy hour at the Butcherknife Brewery, and listen to historians discuss some of the bawdier events of Routt County’s history. Each attendee receives one free craft beer.
  2. Winter Film Series. The museum also sponsors a film series on select dates through December at the historic Chief Theater downtown. The films are fascinating, and this series is very popular. Make sure to check the website (linked above) to see which films might interest you during your visit.
  3. Voices of the Past: Quilts and Soddies. Visiting staff from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum share the woven history of the region in period costume, discussing the life of female homesteaders using journals and diary entries of people who lived at the time. See this unique creative artistry and learn about living in a sod home in a challenging environment. The Tread of Pioneers Museum hosts the event, so visitors can also check out the museum’s other exhibits while there.
  4. A Taste of History. Once a month, local chefs and historians share recipes, old-fashioned cooking methods, and, of course, tastings. Locals feature heirloom recipes, and guests can discuss the history and impact of the recipes with their owners. These are free events, so if you’re a foodie, it’s a must.
  5. Town of Olympians. Steamboat is home to more Olympic athletes than any other town in North America–88 of them! Ride the gondola to the Steamboat Resort and visit the Olympian Tribute Display on the second floor of Thunderhead Lodge. You might run into one of the athletes there.
  6. Festival of Trees. From November 11-20, the museum hosts a major yearly fundraiser, during which local businesses sponsor the decoration of dozens of trees. After Thanksgiving, the trees are placed all over downtown for everyone to enjoy throughout the holiday season. It’s well worth a visit, even if snow makes the drive to Steamboat a bit challenging.

    Fish Creek Falls. (Credit: DeLyn Martineau)

  7. Fish Creek Falls. Almost four miles outside of Steamboat is the trailhead to Fish Creek Falls, where hikers can either take the quarter-mile trail to the base of the falls, continuing for up to five more miles if they choose, or they can take the paved path to an overlook. Either way, the falls are stunning—even more so in the fall with all the aspen leaves adding their golden color to the landscape.
  8. Hot Springs. Whether you want a walking tour or a full-on plunge, Steamboat has lots of hot springs to enjoy. Native Americans and pioneers revered the healing qualities of the 150 geothermal springs, and now families can visit the spa to relax and swim for as long they like, day or night. After a long day of skiing, there’s nothing better to ease sore muscles. Choose from Old Town Hot Springs or Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
  9. Driving, walking, and biking. Tours are available in the summer, but that doesn’t mean enthusiasts can’t enjoy the area on their own at other times of the year. Steamboat is famous for its scenic barns, still standing after generations of ranching all over Routt County. We took a driving tour to Steamboat Lake State Park, where we visited a nice little nature center, then took a short hike. Fishing and boating areas are plentiful as well. Parts of northern Routt County were on fire when we were there, so it was rather smoky, even in town, but don’t worry! The first serious snowfall accumulation should take care of it, per the park rangers.
  10. Annual Yule Log Hunt. People have said that finding the yule log has been on their bucket list—and it’s easy to see why. Like a giant scavenger hunt with clues and competition, finding the yule log has been an annual event for many years. If you’re in Steamboat at the start of the holiday season, it’s worth getting in on the fun.

Most people visit Steamboat to ski, but it’s a fun place to visit at any time of the year. A stunning view of fall foliage awaits those who drive over Muddy and Rabbit Ears Passes to get to this hidden gem of Colorado. And don’t forget to stop for lunch at the Mountain Lyon Café in Silverthorne. Order the green chili.

Photo By: David Dietrich Photography