Located on the banks of the Yampa River, named for a chugging hot spring that once sounded like a steamboat, Steamboat is a haven for water-based recreation.
While the river is a hot spot for rafting, tubing, kayaking and fishing, not surprisingly, it’s the hot springs that get the most notice.
Right in town, you’ll find Old Town Hot Springs, with a lap pool, water slide, climbing wall and plenty of nooks and crannies which to relax and soak after a day of recreation.
Strawberry Hot Springs
For a more adventurous excursion, check out Strawberry Hot Springs, about a 20 minute drive north of town, or a 1.5 hour hike.
While we ran out of time and couldn’t hike to the springs (but what fun it would have been!), we still felt like we earned our soak after a day of downhill biking.
Strawberry Hot Springs is a combination of hippy heaven and family fun. A series of interlocking pools along the river, the springs are super hot when they leave the ground but cool to the perfect temperature as they mix with the river’s frigid snowmelt.
There are plenty of places around the pools to relax and hang out, but not a lot of activity in the water. Mostly, everyone is just sitting, chatting and melting into the comforts of a hot bath.
The hot soaking, combined with a warm sun, made us bold, so before we left, we went all all in, sliding into the river, gasping at the cold and swimming to the other side.
Refreshing? Yes. Breath-taking? Literally.
For Big Kids: While the drive is easy and quick, I still think a family hike ending with a long soak, sounds like a grand idea.
Even if you don’t hike, the springs are in a gorgeous spot, along the river amongst abundant groves of aspen.
There are campsites and cabins to rent if you want to spend the night. Note that clothing is optional after dark.
For Little Kids: Old Town Hot Springs is your best bet, as it is more active and has more family-friendly features.
If you go to Strawberry Hot Springs, try to go mid-day, midweek. That’s what we did several years ago, and we had the pools almost to ourselves, allowing for more splashing and playing.
Stand Up Paddleboarding
Whether on a lake, a pond, or the river or, Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP) are everywhere in summer and a “must do” in a water-oriented town like Steamboat.
Fetcher Pond is a lovely little lake right off of the Yampa River Core Trail and a perfect place to try SUP. We happily spent time paddling about, staying out of the way of the many families fishing from the banks and enjoying the rhythm of moving on water.
Looking for an extra challenge for body and mind? Steamboat Paddleboard Adventures offers SUP Yoga on this same pond, paddleboard lessons on the river and a paddleboard tour of lovely Pearl Lake in a nearby state park.
For Big Kids: Whether they have paddling experience or not, SUP is a great option for bigger kids. Easy to learn, it’s fun to play with steering, speed and balance. When the pond gets too tame, there’s always the river.
For Little Kids. Using the legs, arms and core, SUP is straightforward sport for kids who can swim. And, while you can try standing tandem, I think a better idea is to try sitting or kneeling on the board for greater stability.
Steamboat-based Hala makes a unique double-bladed SUP paddle, allowing you to paddle your board like a canoe when kneeling or sitting.
When You Go…
Lodging abounds, from camping out-of-town to condos on the mountain.
For families of all ages, we like close-to-the-action condos, where everyone has some space to spread out and you can cook some meals (or just have snacks handy). Check out Canyon Creek, just a block from Gondola Square.
For a hotel option, I recommend the family rooms with separate bedrooms at the Inn at Steamboat.
Both properties have pools, and the Inn includes breakfast.
For dining, don’t miss Rex’s American Grill in the nearby Holiday Inn (really). While my guys like the big meaty sandwiches and burgers, I’m a fan of the Beetin’ Quinoa veggie salad.
More Waterborne Delights:
- Paddling Pleasures: Getting Out in Minnesota, June 16, 2014.
- Unique California: Seakayaking Santa Cruz Island, May 5, 2014.
- California Dreamin’ Part One: Kayaking Channel Islands National Park, September 19, 2011.
- Summer in Steamboat: Four Hooves, Two Wheels and Water, July 7, 2014.
- Summer in Steamboat, Part Two: Bike Town, USA, July 10, 2014.
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