So with the festival season being a total bust and travel by air kind of sketchy at best, we decided to stay in Colorado this summer/fall for some local adventures. So we partnered up with our favorite Colorado outfitter, Topo Designs, geared up with some of the latest pieces (and some of our classics) and headed for the hills, err mountains.
Our first stop for these guides was Steamboat Springs, a winter wonderland from December to March for skiers/boarders looking for something a little off the beaten path but still flush with amenities and watering holes. In the summer, Steamboat has just as much to offer in that hospitable mountain town kind of way – from hiking to tubing to SUPing to drinking beers; it’s all here.
Let’s start with the Yampa River.
Tubing – This is probably one of the summer’s most prominent attractions; with a couple of tube rental spots right in town at the banks of the Yampa, it’s a no brainer to grab some craft suds and float your ass down the river. The tubing is better the earlier in the summer you go as the runoff is still firing, although the water is a bit chillier. We went right at the end of the season just before Labor Day, and while the water was a bit low, it was still moving along swiftly enough, but a bit shallow, so you just had to watch your ass for rocks.
Fly Fishing – If you fancy yourself a true outdoorsman/woman, or think you might have the knack, fly fishing is quite popular. It’s hard, it takes practice, and the gear and guided trips are not cheap. We are not quite there yet, but you do you, Captain Montana.
SUP – For those in the know, this means Stand Up Paddleboard, and it’s a lot of fun if you are looking for some nonmotorized water sports. If you have the guts, you can “surf” the river when it’s a bit higher, but make sure you know what you are doing, have the right board, and have all the right gear (helmet, life jacket, etc.) as this is not for the rooks. If you are looking for a more leisurely cruise, say around a lake, there are a couple of spots nearby that are perfect within thirty minutes.
Hiking / Mountain Biking
There are lots and lots of options, but one of our favorite spots is Fish Creek Falls, which offers up various options from an accessible observation deck to a short hike to a full-blown hike up the mountain – seen here in our OpKix camera review.
Yampa River Trail – If you are looking for a nice leisurely ride along the river, the river trail is perfect. It pretty much runs from one side of town to the other along the river and has various scenery, and great pit stops like parks, skate parks, river beaches, and breweries.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs – Just a short drive out of Steamboat you will find this epic collection of hot springs pools and rental cabins. Due to Covid you will have to make a reservation, and unfortunately we didn’t get one. We have visited on an earlier trip and it’s one of the best hot springs we have ever been to. With incredible scenery, reasonable rates and a large variety of pools with different temps, you just can’t go wrong. Just make sure you make an reservation in advance, or you won’t get in. During the winter road access is a little tougher if there is a lot of snow.
Dining / Drinking
Taco Cabo – This is an essential go-to for both locals and tourists alike. Taco Cabo has tables along the Yampa River so you can enjoy your eats/drinks while watching the river flow by, which is clutch. The food is excellent, especially the breakfast burritos – nicely pressed and crispy to give you the energy you need for a day of hiking, biking, or tubing. Also a great place for happy hour beers – we went here a lot, great prices, fast service, and usually a table available.
Storm Peak Brewing Company – This brewery is just outside of downtown and offers up a great assortment of craft brews for the connoisseur and casual fan alike. A great patio, good variety, friendly people, and great beer – this is our go-to brewery in the boat. Try the Guava Sour!
Mountain Tap Brewery – This is another solid brewery right across the street from the river in downtown Steamboat and was big with the tubing crowd and locals alike. A fantastic outside seating area, great food with a gourmet twist, and a good selection of brews. We ended up here a couple of times but make sure you check the hours, as they seemed to be closed quite a bit, but it was heading into the offseason.
Besame – If you are looking for something a bit more upscale and inspired, we highly recommend Besame. This Latin American restaurant delivers big from the apps to the mains, and the Paia does the trick after a long day of hiking. It’s a little on the spendy side, and the service could be better, but it’s one of the best spots in Steamboat without a doubt. Come hungry and make a reservation; it gets crowded even during COVID.
Sambi Canton Restaurant – Yes, you can find good Thai food in the mountains, and it’s actually more readily available than in Denver, where there are not many spots, surprisingly. Sambi is a nice little spot with excellent service and reliable staples to satisfy your Thai food cravings and beyond. So if you are burnt out on tacos, beer, burgers, and the like, this is the right place for a refreshing alternative. Better yet, take it to go and eat it by the river.
E3 Chophouse – Happy Hour and lunch here are fantastic, with outside dining right along the river and a great selection of salads, apps, and savory bites to satisfy your appetite after a hike, tube, or ride. So if you want to save some money and savor the views, it’s hard to beat E3. You can also go casual during the day, but it dresses up a bit for dinner and is more spendy.
Sun Pies Bistro – If you are looking for cheap drinks in a locals kind of divey joint, this is your spot. There is outdoor seating along the river in the back; arrive earlier or right after the lunch crowd. The food looked like standard bar fare, but we did not partake – just some beers and a short chill session. Great for some post tubing hooch and bar bites.
Stay tuned for our next guide Pagosa Springs & Great Sand Dunes National Park, followed by Breckenridge + Gravity Haus.
Get out there, wear a mask and enjoy the weather while you can. Winter is coming.