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Steamboat Springs: A Winter-Lover’s Dream

Rabbit Ears Pass Jan 2023

Do you have a favorite place that’s so magical, a piece of your heart goes missing when you leave? 

For me, that place is Steamboat Springs, CO.

Flight map from Atlanta to Hayden, CO, a 30-minute drive from Steamboat Springs.

In January, I spent two glorious weeks there with Chad and good friends. It was my third time visiting the ski town, and my heart overflowed with happiness at the buckets of snow that fell almost every day, the breathtaking mountain views, the friendliness of the people I met, and finally getting my skis parallel on turns. It was a time to slow down and unplug.

We rented a comfortable, 2-bedroom condo downtown that had views of Steamboat Resort and Howelsen Hill Ski Area. We were daily-entertained by the changing snow conditions and how the mountains would appear and disappear under the clouds, by night skiers at Howelsen Hill, and the snowcat that groomed the hill once skiers cleared off for the night.

View from the condo on the day we arrived, looking toward Steamboat Resort. It snowed so much, most days the mountain was shrouded.

It was my first time staying downtown (vs. near the Steamboat base), and I loved being within walking distance of restaurants like Winona’s, a grocery store, and Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, where I rented my boots and skis. A city bus stop was also steps away from the condo, which meant free transportation for getting to and from the resort.

Confession: my first few days of skiing weren’t pretty. I had several panic attacks as my body went into flight-mode on the side of the mountain. I mean, we’re not supposed to lean downhill on wooden sticks, am I right? At the end of one day, I even asked myself if skiing was my sport. It was a sad, sad question, for sure.

But, I swallowed my pride each time I froze or fell down, and reminded myself not to quit. I’d only had a few weeks’ practice on skis prior to this trip and needed more experience. Note: it’s hard to make progress when you only ski once in a blue moon, so I’m working toward changing that.

Looking down a Green trail at Steamboat Resort.
Looking down a Green trail at Steamboat Resort, and a rare moment of no other skiers or snowboarders on the path.

Well, time and determination paid off by the second week. My friends were graciously giving me pointers on skiing, too, and I took two lessons from Steamboat instructors. I panicked less and started getting a smidge more comfortable on Blue runs. (Somehow, you’re more brave when an instructor says “follow me” down a slope that looks like sudden death. I’m talking about you, Eagles Nest.)

One of my new favorites is Baby Powder, an ungroomed Blue run which is Green in pitch. I learned there’s no other feeling like gliding through deep powder! Nevermind that I toppled over in it once…it didn’t stop me from going back for more.

Speaking of lessons, if you’ve been to Steamboat, the base area was overhauled this season. The SnowSports School was moved atop the new Wild Blue Gondola at Greenhorn Ranch. There’s also the new Greenhorn Ranch lift, which drops skiers on a short, easy Green run, perfect for beginners. It’s helped remove slower traffic from Stampede, where newbies were frequently found wedging among advanced skiers.

During one lesson, we even had a moose-sighting. I’d been waiting for that, for years! We were on a lift, so I didn’t dare pull out my phone to snap a picture, because I’d be the one to drop said-phone into the snow below, never to retrieve it again. So, Mr. or Miss Moose will just have to live on in my mind.

Another highlight of the trip was showshoeing, for the first time, at Rabbit Ears Pass. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Some spots reminded me of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and what I imagine the winter-wonderland is like when the children step through the wardrobe.

Rabbit Ears Pass Steamboat Springs
Breathtaking views and a stillness like none other, at Rabbit Ears Pass.

It was also a fairly-challenging hike, one I’m not sure any of us were expecting. Once we hiked the West Summit loop halfway, we were committed, and by the end had snowshoed about four miles. 

Our legs and lungs were toast. But wonderful toast.

From left to right: me, Chad, Mona, Steve. Another snowshoer and his nephew returned the favor of taking a picture of them. He gave us this beautiful, well-framed photo, while I'm pretty sure I chopped their legs off. Oops.

Me showshoeing at Rabbit Ears Pass. Video by Mona Robertson.

A common theme I heard repeated during our stay, is that summers in Steamboat are better than the winters. 

How is that even possible?

I’m dreaming this will be the year I find out.

Do you have a favorite winter destination? Leave a comment and let me know!

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2 Responses

  1. You make me smile and laugh out loud at many of your blog posts! So glad you got to experience what Randy & I did last year downtown!

    Good job not giving up – you are a true Camacho through and through!

    Love you!

    P.S. Favorite summer vacation touristy thing is the NOC – Nantahala Outdoor Center; zip lining and white water rafting

    1. Thanks for reading, Rachel! Thought of you several times when walking downtown and riding the bus. 🙂 Never giving up, ever. 😉 You’re definitely a bit more brave when it comes to outdoor adventure – I ziplined once, but will probably never try whitewater rafting. I love how much fun you have, though! Western NC is so beautiful, too. Love you!

Photo by Moon DeSetto

Welcome to Copper House North! I’m Christina, an artist, designer, and author of The Miracle Farm. I’m here to share creativity and lessons learned while living this colorful life. Thank you for being here!

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