Published: May 18, 2013
Heck, the town was named as such because someone thought a spring sounded like a steamboat. Among the choices for soaking is Old Town Hot Springs, a health and recreation center downtown with pools fed by springs. There's also a waterslide. The more adventurous should seek out springs north of town at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. oldtownhotsprings.org strawberryhotsprings.com
Little is more relaxing than floating down the Yampa River in an inner tube. Sure, there are moments you'll want to pay attention, particularly in periods of high water, but a nice tube ride can make almost anyone pretty mellow. The Yampa is the last remaining "free flowing" (follows its natural hydrograph) tributary of the Colorado. There are a number of outfitters to get you started.
Rabbit Ears Pass
With no snow to contend with in the summer, this becomes a delightful, beautiful drive (or bike ride, if you're up to it). Coming from the Front Range, your first view atop the pass is stunning with Lake Catamount on your left and the Yampa Valley stretching out in front of you. You might be able to see a mountain called Sleeping Giant, but if not, check it out from downtown looking west. It's pretty well named and noticeable.
Sold out on summer
The Fourth of July parade is excellent in that it's old-school. Most everyone comes out and is either in the parade or watching as Main Street is lined with folks. Check out the pancake breakfast, too. The USA Pro Challenge rolls into town Aug. 21 as a field of professional cyclists sprints through downtown in Stage 3 of the seven-day race. Stage 4 starts in Steamboat. There are several festivals and the weekly downtown rodeos are good, clean fun, too.
Open space, parks and trails
A true ski town, the summers are also tremendous here with excellent camping and recreational opportunities, including cycling and a whitewater park. Fish Creek Falls is an excellent spot for a hike. There are plenty of good hiking and backpacking options, including the Coulton Creek Loop, Elk Run Trail and Gilpin Lake.