“Your trip to Colorado looked so cool but I don’t ski!”
That’s what everyone said after I returned from five days in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I had the same thought when I booked the trip. I went with friends but hadn’t been on skis in 10 years!
But there is plenty to do in Steamboat Springs, even if you don’t ski.
When We Went: January 27 – 31,2016
Where We Stayed: An Airbnb just 2 blocks from the base of Steamboat Ski Resort
Our house was great! There were six of us total and the house had more than enough room for all of us. And it had one of our necessities: a hot tub!
Pro Tip: If you’re planning to go to Steamboat, look into flying to actual Steamboat. We flew into Denver and it was a three hour drive with no traffic! It takes away almost a full day of your trip to do the drive. Plus we had to pay for a rental car and gas! Flying into Steamboat directly may have worked out to the same price in the end.
Where We Bought Weed: Medicine Man
You know you were thinking it! Marijuana is legal in Colorado. EVERYWHERE. You can smoke it on the street if you want. Just don’t drive! Our first stop after picking up the rental car was a weed shop called Medicine Man. It was less than a 10 minute drive from the airport and had quite a selection. I’m not a big smoker but the group I was with definitely took advantage!
What We Did
Our first day was spent on the three hour drive from the Denver airport to Steamboat and to get the house in order. There’s a grocery store, liquor store and several other shops near the base of the ski resort.
Half of our group was spending most of their time skiing so they also picked up their rentals. We rented from Fleischer Sport and I have to give them a shout out because they were awesome! They gave us free beers when we picked up our ski stuff and gave us great recommendations of what to do, where to eat and where to go out at night. So thanks to the guys in there for being so cool!
On day two of our trip, most of our group went skiing but since Chelsea (you remember her from my backpacking trip, right?) and I hadn’t skied since we were 15, we decided to do some other winter activities instead.
That morning we booked a snowmobile trip with Steamboat Snowmobile Tours for later that afternoon. Our tour was 2.5 hours long and included a guide and some hot chocolate and treats after. They also offer a pickup but unfortunately they didn’t pick up from where we were staying. Plus it was a little last minute! But it was only about a 15 minute drive to them from the base of Steamboat. It was really helpful that we could book the tour the same day.
We had a GREAT tour with an awesome guide. We took it slow to start through the trails but then he brought us to a wide open field where we got to go as fast as we wanted. I had never driven a snowmobile before but our guide made me feel totally at ease.
He then took us through the trees and on narrow paths where only one snowmobile could fit on the path.
We also stopped in the woods where there was about five feet of snow where he showed us how to jump off our bikes into the deep powder.
Our last stop before heading back to the lodge for hot chocolate was an overlook where we could not only see far into the distance but we also saw where professional snowmobilers go to practice. Guys who compete at the X Games come here to jump off cliffs into the powder. We saw a few people going up the cliffs but weren’t lucky enough to see anyone jump. Next time!
The rest of our group who went skiing that day were insanely jealous of our day. If you find yourself in Colorado and you’re not a big skier, it’s definitely an activity to check out.
That night we ventured out to have dinner at the base of the mountain at a place called The Truffle Pig. We had some bomb ass truffle fries but it was pretty pricey. It was a splurge for us as it was the only night we were planning to eat out.
Afterward we headed into the town of Steamboat to a bar called Schmiggity’s which was filled with ski bums, some other tourists and fun live folk music!
The second day of our trip was dedicated to skiing. It was the only day Chelsea and I were planning to ski since we hadn’t been on a mountain in 10 years. I was scared that I would either get hurt or be insanely embarrassed by how horrible of a skier I was.
Flash forward to two runs later and I was a freaking PRO! OK maybe not a pro exactly, but I was whipping down the mountain having a great time. I was even better than Alice who had skied all day the day before (sorry Alice, had to go there ;-)). We ended up talking to some Steamboat photographers at the top of the mountain and they asked us what our plan for the day was.
“We’re going to stick to green circles,” the girls said.
“Yeah, I’m going to do green circles and one black diamond,” I said.
The photographers looked confused. But I was determined to get down at least one black diamond.
And one black diamond I did! The last run of the day, I skied not one but TWO black diamonds on my way to the bottom.
You can take the girl off the mountain but you can’t take the skier out of the girl…or something like that. Basically, I was really impressed with my skiing skills.
Around 6 p.m. we were done with skiing and went back to the sport shop to return our equipment. The guys in the shop gave us free beers while we chatted about what we should do that night. They recommended going to the Strawberry Springs hot springs after dark. It’s natural hot springs that are basically a large hot tub that turns into “a party” after hours. Some of our group was a little skeptical but the rest of us convinced them that “When in Steamboat.”
The drive to the hot springs was a little sketchy along dark back roads but we made it. We paid $15 to enter and then headed down a completely pitch black, slippery path to the springs. The guys at the pro shop weren’t kidding. This place turns into a party. You couldn’t see anything, not even what was right in front of you. There were zero lights and we heard that some people were naked. I would have liked to see the springs during the day but it was really cool to see the perfectly clear stars.
Our last full day in Steamboat was saved for dog sledding, an activity I knew I had to do before we even arrived in Colorado. Unfortunately, it was also the day with the worst weather. The tour company recommends you dress how you would for skiing and we were very happy that we did! Hats, gloves, goggles, snow pants…we had it all on.
We organized our dog sledding experience through Grizzle T Dog Sled Tours. They picked us up from our Airbnb and drove us about 30 minutes away from the mountain to the back country of Steamboat. We were a little surprised at first by what we saw. There were what seemed like 100 dogs all tied up outside to chain fences with nothing but a blue plastic container to sleep in. These dogs are Alaskan huskies who are used to freezing temperatures but it still wasn’t what I was expecting. But our guides informed us that most of the dogs sleep outside their containers.
When the dogs realized they were about to do a run, they started going BUCK WILD. They were jumping up and down and howling and jumping on top of their containers. They were just going ape shit. I fell in love with an older dog named Sage.
Our guides gave us instructions while the dogs were attached to the sleds. We got to drive the sleds ourselves which was pretty cool. We started with one person in the sled, completely covered by blankets and one person standing, driving the sled. It was absolutely freezing. And it was snowing so hard on our sled tour that we couldn’t see anything. My hair was frozen solid. But it made us feel like we were in the real Iditarod so we were OK with it!
The tour was about two and a half hours in total. It was really hard to steer the dogs. We were in last place with our sled and our dogs just wanted to beat the dogs in front of them so badly but we weren’t allowed to pass. So we kept having to jump on the brake to slow our dogs down. It was a workout! And a really cool experience overall.
Our last day in Steamboat was unfortunately spent driving back to the Denver airport. But we did make one stop along the way at the FIRST EVER Chipotle. Anyone who knows me knows how addicted I am to Chipotle so I was very eager to have a burrito at the origin of my beloved.
When I hopped on my friends’ trip to Steamboat, I had no intension of skiing every day and I was very pleasantly surprised to learn there is so much more to do than ski. While Steamboat may not be as big as Vail or Aspen, there are so many activities for non-skiers that you will never find yourself bored! Now I just need to get back to Colorado during the summer so I can do some hiking. I shall be back!