Steamboat Springs, Colorado is a mountain town in the northern part of the state, approximately 45 miles from the Wyoming border. We usually don’t make it to this part of Colorado very often. In fact, the first (and only) time we visited before this trip was March of 2018!
When we got the van, we knew we were due for a visit. Kate reached out to some Instagram friends who live in Steamboat to ask for some recommendations on dispersed camping, places to go, etc. Come to find out, they needed a house and dog sitter for a couple of weeks during the timeframe we planned to travel there. We happily accepted their offer to watch their house and take care of their dog in exchange for an amazing house to stay in for a couple of weeks!
If you are looking to plan a trip to Steamboat Springs (whether in a van or not), here are some activities and places we enjoyed that we recommend adding to your list:
1. Mt. Zirkel Loop Hike
This is a 10.6-mile loop in Clark, Colorado, about an hour north of Steamboat Springs. The loop is perfect for a day hike or a 1-2 night backpacking trip. It is rated on AllTrails as “hard” with 2,444 feet of elevation gain.
Kate backpacked this loop as part of a photo shoot. She hiked the loop counterclockwise and highly recommends going this way! On the first day, she hiked about 3.5 miles to find a campsite just past Gold Creek Lake. On day 2, she hiked an additional 3.5 miles to a spot above Gilpin Lake. Although the elevation gain was rough on this day, the view as you descend down to Gilpin Lake makes the pain worth it! On the final day, Kate hiked roughly 4.5 miles downhill to get back to the trailhead. The downhill was not too steep, which made these last miles enjoyable and speedy.
Don’t forget to bring your camera! This scenic hike is great for seeing fall colors in September. Even if you are not up to the entire loop, there are a bunch of aspen trees less than a mile into the hike if you take the trail clockwise from the trailhead.
2. Steamboat Springs Farmers Market
Depending on the time of year you visit Steamboat Springs, there is an exceptionally cute Farmers Market on Main Street that is held each Saturday from early June to late September. The hours in 2023 were 9 am-2 pm. There were over 135 different vendors, and they carried different offerings each Saturday we visited.
With the Farmers Market being located in downtown Steamboat Springs, we rode our bikes on the bike trail that runs through town to get there. We enjoyed looking at the various booths and ended up purchasing some delicious hot salsa, homemade cinnamon rolls, and a turquoise ring that Tom gave to Kate for their 5 year wedding anniversary!
3. Enjoy Local Cuisine
Although we normally try to make our own meals while traveling, we could not resist trying some of the restaurants in Steamboat Springs. Here are a few places we visited that we recommend:
How Ya doin Pizza and eatz
On the night of our anniversary, we craved pizza! We decided to ride the bikes down to How Ya Doin Pizza and Eatz. This spot offers natural and non-GMO ingredients and lots of different specialty and custom options for your pizza.
Another awesome benefit of this place? It is right next door to Storm Peak Brewery! You can order the pizza and then bring a buzzer with you to the brewery. When your pizza is ready, you can grab it and enjoy it at Storm Peak Brewery. They have tables inside and outside as well as pizza toppings and plates.
Back door grill
Another favorite spot that we visited (on 3 separate occasions) during our time in Steamboat Springs was Back Door Grill. Coincidentally, this restaurant is owned by the same person who owns How Ya Doin Pizza (as well as O’Neils Tavern and Grill – though we did not make it there on this trip). This restaurant offers delicious American bar food such as burgers, fries, and a variety of appetizers. On Tuesdays during Mud Season, they have a buy one get one free deal for everything on the menu!
4. Visit Strawberry Park Hot Springs
This hot spring is open 7 days per week, 365 days per year! Although we did not make it there to visit on this trip (the house we stayed in had a hot tub), we visited back in March of 2018. It is $20 for a 2-hour reservation, and make sure you bring cash! They do not accept any other form of payment.
Also, beware that no outside alcohol is permitted, and minors are not allowed after dark because that is when clothing becomes optional. Depending on the experience you wish to have, adjust the time you plan to visit accordingly!
To conclude, these were a few of our favorite stops during our time in Steamboat Springs. Another notable event that we attended when we visited in September was the Oktoberwest – you should definitely check this out if you visit Steamboat Springs on the weekend that it happens to fall (typically mid-September). They had over 30 brewers and live music from one of our favorite Colorado artists, Cousin Curtiss!
Although we do not ski and visited during the off-season, Steamboat Springs has quickly become one of our favorite mountain towns in Colorado! You will see for yourself that there is so much to do and enjoy in this town.