Steamboat Springs is a cozy community in northern Colorado that’s become one of the nation’s top travel destinations, welcoming nature lovers, families, and ski enthusiasts alike. The breathtaking views of Mt. Warner and towering trees serve as a beautiful backdrop to everything from skiing and hiking to shopping, dining, and swimming – when it comes to things to do in Steamboat Springs, there’s something for everyone to enjoy year-round.
Few U.S. locations can provide a memorable travel experience for families, dedicated skiers, foodies, and nature aficionados alike. And yet, Steamboat Springs offers all that and more, which is why it’s quickly earned a spot on the bucket lists of countless in-the-know travelers. But even though this Colorado city is rising in popularity, it still maintains the cozy, quiet quality of a true hidden gem. In fact, many people have never heard of Steamboat Springs, but the community has a fascinating history and an even more exciting present.
Interested in learning more about Steamboat Springs? Here are our favorite facts about Steamboat Springs, one of America’s best-kept secret travel destinations.
Steamboat Springs doesn’t actually have a steamboat.
Despite its unique name, the city of Steamboat Springs isn’t hosting a steamboat of any kind. The name comes from a time when French trappers were passing through the area in the early 1800s and were puzzled when they couldn’t find any steamboat activity after hearing a constant strange engine-like noise in the area. Instead, the community was named for the distinct sounds of the region’s hot springs, which make an unmistakable “chug-chug” sound of a steamboat.
The community is over a century old.
First founded as a Western ranching town, Steamboat Springs can trace its history back over more than 110 years. Even though the ski-centric community has undoubtedly been modernized since then, the historic areas of the city still have an old-fashioned charm.
There are more springs in Steamboat Springs than you might guess.
The hot springs in the area are one of Steamboat Springs’ most significant claims to fame and are believed to possess powerful healing properties. There are more than 150 natural, spring-fed mineral and hot springs throughout the area. It was these springs that first drew the Arapaho and Yampatika Ute tribes, making it one of the favorite summertime hunting grounds. The tribespeople considered the springs’ thermal waters to be extremely sacred, standing as the sacred ground where both spiritual and physical healing was possible.
The first natural springs bathhouse in Steamboat Springs was constructed in the 1870s.
James Crawford built a small cabin in 1874, located near today’s Iron Spring. He added a log shelter over the spring, officially being the first person to open a bathhouse for locals. The few residents that lived in Steamboat Springs at the time regularly gathered at the bathhouse, using it as a community center of sorts.
Steamboat Springs welcomed cattle ranchers, miners, and frontier travelers during its early years.
Throughout the late 1800s, the town of Steamboat Springs evolved into a permanent ranching settlement for cattle farmers. Miners and travelers in search of a place to rest and enjoy a good meal regularly passed through town as well.
By the 1900s, Steamboat Springs was growing into a U.S. travel destination.
You might be surprised to learn that tourists in Steamboat Springs are nothing new – in fact, the city’s status as a popular destination goes back more than a century. In the early 1900s, the springs gained popularity as a natural wonder, drawing tourists who wanted to drink the mineral waters and bathe in the natural pools. Once the passenger train arrived in 1909, Steamboat Springs became a well-traveled tourist destination and “spa town.”
Many of the city’s original structures still stand today.
Steamboat Springs is a community that holds its storied history close to its heart, which is exemplified by the numerous historic buildings throughout town. Pieces of history anchor much of the city, and offer a fascinating peek into the past. The Carver Power Plant (at Tenth Street between Lincoln and Oak) was built in 1900, making Steamboat Springs the first town in Northwest Colorado to provide electricity to its residents. Constructed in the 1890s, 911 Lincoln Avenue first existed as a drug store, then a meat market, and today, Hartwig’s Saddlery and Western Wear. An 1893 structure known as the Lorenz Building (at 928 Lincoln Avenue) was initially built as a general store, then converted into the courthouse. After the present-day courthouse was built in 1923, the Lorenz Building become a dance hall. Other historic buildings in Steamboat Springs include the Hugus Building/Thiesen Mall (912 Lincoln Avenue), which housed the city’s first-ever telephone.
Steamboat Springs is known for its trademark ski powder.
One of the many reasons that Steamboat Springs is an international ski destination is the breathtaking mountains that receive endless amounts of fresh powder. Officially named “champagne powder,” the snow is a light, fluffy powder that skiers dream of.
The area has a significant advantage over other ski towns.
Many of the world’s ski destinations have incredibly high elevations, resting at 9,000 feet above sea level and higher. As a result, even experienced visitors have to struggle to acclimate over the first few days. However, Steamboat Springs sits at a comfortable 6,700 feet above sea level, making the transition much more comfortable and enjoyable – which means you can hit the slopes right when you arrive.
A record number of Olympians call Steamboat Springs home.
When you consider that Steamboat Springs offers the best skiing in the world, it’s probably not surprising that it’s a highly desirable place for Olympic athletes to live. The town is currently home to more U.S. Olympians than any other place in America, hosting an incredible amount of talent within its boundaries.
Book Luxury Accommodations in Steamboat Streams for Your Dream Getaway
Whether you’re returning to Steamboat Springs for another visit or you’re a first-time visitor to our city, you can be confident that you’ll always find something new to discover. Nicknamed Ski Town USA, Steamboat Springs is one of the best-rated places to ski in Colorado – but that doesn’t mean that you need to be an avid skier to enjoy vacationing here. Outstanding shopping and dining are in plentiful supply, and there is always a plethora of events in Steamboat Springs, including concerts, sporting competitions, and more. But before you can truly experience the best of Steamboat Springs, you’ll need to find somewhere beautiful to stay. Luxe Traveler is the premier provider of luxury vacation rentals in Steamboat Springs, offering a wide variety of accommodations to suit a range of group sizes, budgets, and preferences. We specialize in Steamboat Springs vacation rentals that provide the ultimate combination of amenities, excellent location, and comfort. Among our most popular properties is the Over the Edge Chalet and the Scandinavian Lodge, both ideal options for ski-in, ski-out lodging in Steamboat Springs. Learn more about how to find the best Steamboat Springs luxury vacation rentals and plan your perfect trip by contacting Luxe Traveler today.
Photo Credit to Tupungato