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River Smart – Tips from a Local Pro

June 12th, 2017

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Floating down the Yampa River in a raft beneath a blue Colorado sky sounds idyllic. It is, if you realize that the river is wild and you need to be prepared. Condos in Steamboat sat down with local expert Kent Vertrees, who teaches river and canyon orientation classes at Colorado Mountain College. The advocate for water rights and activist with Friends of the Yampa gave us some tips on preparing for a day on the river.

 

What clothing do you recommend for a river rafting day trip?

Your on-river clothing is based on the severity of the river rapids, the time of year you’ll be floating and what the daily weather is doing. Avoid wearing cotton-clothing when/if at all possible.  Cotton clothing will hold in water and keep you cold where synthetic material or a wool blend will whisk water away from your skin, keeping you warm even when wet from head to toe.  Layer up clothing like you would when skiing or snowboarding with a waterproof or resistant splash jacket shell to keep the wind and water off you. Appropriate footwear is very important.  Sandals that fix to your feet like the brands Chaco or Keen’s are a good choice.  No flip-flops as they will fall off immediately if you swim out of the raft.  Also prepare for the sunshine with long sleeve shirts, a large, wide brimmed hat and sunglasses with straps. A personal flotation device or life jacket, and helmet should be worn. Take a dry bag to keep valuables from getting wet. Pack plenty water and snacks.

 

Can you give any advice to novice river users on safety? 

For those of you who are looking to get into river rafting but don’t have much experience, Colorado Mountain College offers a River Orientation class multiple times a year that provides the basics in how to successfully pull together a river trip. Beyond local courses and classes, finding the right crew of trusted river friends is essential.  Having a river mentor, someone who will take you in their boat on their trips to teach you safe and proper techniques, someone who will ease you into things and not throw you into rapids that are beyond your skill is critical to the success of every future boatman and boatwoman.  

 

Do you have any tips on local river etiquette? 

There are some general rules of river etiquette that all of us must consider in order to have a safe, enjoyable, unobtrusive and sustainable experience.  First off plan and prepare accordingly, double check your packing list and make sure everyone on your trip is up-to-date with where you are going and what to bring.  Don’t take over the put in or take-outs.  If you can, unload your raft and all your gear and then move it out of the river access area so others can come in and do the same thing.  Pick up other peoples messes and leave no trace of your own.  Give fly fisherman plenty of room.  Don’t intermix your group into another groups raft trip, especially above rapids.  Most importantly, here in Colorado all of us on rivers need to respect private property rights.  There may be many miles along your river trip where you are floating through, and over private property and you just cannot pull over anywhere you want. This goes back to planning and preparing correctly so do your homework before getting on the river, bring a guide book or map of the river and making sure you are not impacting private property rights.  

 

Afternoon storms can roll in during the summer, what should someone do if they are out of the river? 

One component of pulling off a successful river trip is making sure you know what’s happening with the weather.  In your pre-trip planning you should check on the forecast and bring adequate gear to match what the forecast is saying.  Always pack extra splash tops, bottoms and layers incase someone on your trip forgets a critical gear item.  During your float, pay attention to what’s going on in the sky and realize that storms in Colorado can quickly turn your beautiful scenic float into a maelstrom of weather.  Hail, strong wind, lightening, rain and dramatic temperature swings need to be accounted for. This is where your planning and preparation help you through under any weather related situations.  Hypothermia can happen even during mid summer days so extra gear for all your crew is key. 

 

The Luck of Springtime in the ‘Boat

March 17th, 2017

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The Irish are not the only ones who get to feel lucky. Spending a springtime vacation in Steamboat Springs will make you feel blessed, and here 10 reasons why.

  1. Skiing or boarding on the fresh groomers in the morning and soft snow in the afternoon sun. (Although an impending storm is going to add a fresh layer of powder to the mix next week).
  1. Rockin’ out at to a free concert at the base area with Bud Light Rocks the ‘Boat series.
  1. Slopeside’s Ice Bar – après ski just got cooler.
  1. Soaking in thermal waters at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs – one of 19 mineral springs on the Historic Hot Springs Tour through Colorado.
  1. Cross-country skiing in a t-shirt and refueling with a picnic on Rabbit Ears Pass. (Pick up a to go from Backcountry Provisions but be warned, you might need a nap, it’s so good).
  1. Gear sales have started in town and on the mountain so there’s plenty of bargains to snag.
  1. Snowshoeing and hiking at Fish Creek Falls where the ice is beginning to melt. When it does, you can’t hear yourself think for the roar.
  1. Sipping suds at the four local breweries dotted around town.
  1. Road biking past miles of rolling ranch lands.
  1. Taking an early morning hot air balloon ride as the valley below awakens.

 

 

Step To It

January 23rd, 2017

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Who knew that something used as a method of survival 6,000 years ago would evolve into a recreational pastime? Snowshoeing’s long and storied past has been eclipsed by technology making it a winter-sport favorite for many.

In December Condos in Steamboat guest Lesley Philip left her native Scotland, and came to Steamboat Springs to spend Christmas with the family. She didn’t ski or snowboard and according to her, she “has never felt part of the winter scene.” All that changed after a day spent tramping around the Steamboat Ski Area on snowshoes.

“It was absolutely wonderful and for the first time, I could join in with the rest of the family and share time on the mountain,” she says. For the remainder of her trip, Lesley spent multiple days clipped into snowshoes crunching over snowy terrain all over Steamboat.

Steamboat Ski Area has created several snowshoe loops that follow well-marked cat tracks and gentle terrain to Four Points and Rendezvous lodges. For those who’d prefer not to navigate the routes alone, there are multiple guided options available. Free tours are offered daily at 1 p.m., leaving from the information center at the base of the mountain. An on-foot lift ticket is requirement. Make a day of it and book a gourmet lunch at Hazie’s Restaurant, which is served prior to the tour. Make a night of it instead, and take the Moonlight Tour with dinner at Hazie’s afterwards.

Explore the nooks and crannies in hillsides and forests all around Steamboat by snowshoeing on designated hiking trails. Popular local favorites include; the Quarry Trail on Emerald Mountain, favored for the unsurpassed views of Mount Werner and the entire Yampa Valley; Uranium Mine Trail which overlooks Fish Creek Falls; and Walton Peak Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass for incredible panoramas of the south valley. Learn about local wildlife on naturalist lead snowshoe tours offered weekly by Yampatika. (www.yampatika.org)

Spend a day at any of the Nordic centers, where trails for snowshoe use are clearly marked. Haymaker Nordic Center and Catamount Ranch and Club both allow dogs during weekdays. Both offer equipment rental and full-service dining. Steamboat Touring Center is the most centrally located of the three and also offers equipment rental and a cafe.

Know Before You Go

  • Dress in layers, as you would to go skiing. Avoid cotton, as there is no way for the moisture to escape, which can make you feel cold.
  • Wear snow boots, or hiking boots and use gators to keep the snow out.
  • Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Take snacks to keep energy levels up, especially young children.
  • Take poles to maintain good balance on steeper terrain.
  • Stretch legs and hips prior to snowshoeing as it is a workout and you’ll be thankful you warmed up first.
  • Pack a camera – the scenery will be beautiful, wherever your shoes take you.

 

 

SPOOKED IN STEAMBOAT

November 1st, 2016

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dragonLast night in downtown Steamboat Springs there was a slew of mysterious behavior. The mad hatter danced down Lincoln Avenue followed by a family of sea gods. A crowd of Vikings strolled the sidewalks passing a monkey with a banana before stopping to greet the three pink ladies. A dragon towered over a crowd of people breathing fire as members of the emergency services looked on, while tossing candy to passing children.

It was Halloween, the most cherished community event of the year. Last night did not disappoint. For two hours Lincoln Avenue was closed to all traffic, except those on foot. Storeowners generously dished out volumes of candy, slices of pizza, pots of ice cream and toothbrushes – yes toothbrushes! There was a scream contest, live musicians and fire jugglers. Families, kids, couples, singles, empty nesters and canine friends strolled the street together absorbing the quintessential Steamboat vibe.

The snow held off despite the chill in the air – much to the amazement of long time locals, who expect the first big dump of year on that very night. The snow never came, but all the usual tradition remained with most adults feeling thankful they are not waking up to teach school in the morning. Thank you Steamboat for another spooktacularly fun night.

Home from Home

September 27th, 2016

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l1020893Things are about to get crazier than normal this winter for Dan and Kim Filler, and they couldn’t be happier about it. For nearly two decades the Fillers have owned and operated Condos in Steamboat, specializing in vacation rentals. Winter season means two things to them: looking after clients, and running back and forth to Howelsen Ice Arena to support their hockey mad son Jake.

This year they have even more reason to be at the rink cheering at a hockey game. The Fillers opted to become a host family for the first-ever junior hockey team to be permanently stationed in Steamboat Springs – The Steamboat Wranglers.

In August Quinny Baker switched coastal California for the Rocky Mountains and moved into the Fillers. It will be his home away from home for the next eight months. The senior in High School is part of a new team that will train players hoping to make college teams.

Up to 25 players hope to be billeted in Steamboat and play for the newest team in the western division. Players have strict guidelines to adhere to, including evening curfews which hold serious consequences if broken.

jakequinny-aug-28-2016The Fillers became aware of the new team at Howelsen Ice Arena and volunteered their support. Kim entered the contest to name the team and her quintessential Steamboat term – The Wranglers – won. She will drop the first puck when the team plays their first game, this Friday, September 30th, 2016 at 7pm.

“We are looking forward to meeting and accommodating as many of the traveling families as possible,” Kim says. Eleven-year-old Jake is years away from playing at the same level, but he has set his sights on hockey. Having a big brother figure at home to show him the ropes is a good thing. He was equally thrilled to earn a spot as one of two stick boys.

“Our business is to take care of people coming to Steamboat, but this time we are taking it to the next level. I wanted to pay it forward, knowing one day it could be our son doing the same as Quinny.”

Quinny Baker and his teammates can be sure of one thing this winter, they might be far from home but they’ll be plenty of people cheering them on at Howelsen Ice Arena, especially the Fillers.

 

The Brunch Bunch

August 12th, 2016

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brunchBrunch, it’s that meal that was once for people who got up too late. They missed breakfast and couldn’t wait until lunch. Now, it can be anything from a cheap family meal of the day out, to a mimosa-fueled affair that keeps diners seated all morning.

In Steamboat Springs, we have embraced brunch. It suits our style. We don’t sleep in, especially in winter, as that would be seen as a crime against powder. In summer there’s an early morning bike ride to get in, or a hike with the dog before the temp heats up. Most of our visitors feel the same way, so let’s skip breakfast and go to brunch. Here are our top five choices.

Creekside Café on 11th Street. First of all, expect a line – you won’t mind once you start eating, it’s worth it. Sit outside among the pots of flowers and listen to Soda Creek rush past. Everything is home cooked on the spot and most of the ingredients are sourced in Colorado.

Must try: homemade chorizo washed down with a Mimosa.

Freshies is located midway between the mountain area and downtown. Conveniently situated just off the Yampa Core Trail, Freshies is a popular stop for bikers, walkers and river rats. Sit on the patio or stay indoors and admire the artwork adorning the walls by local painter Lance Whitner.

Must try: Southwestern benny.

Winona’s in the heart of downtown on Lincoln Avenue is a long-time locals favorite. Sit by the window and watch the world go by. Known for its homemade granola and incredible baked goods selection, it won’t pay off to feel guilty about calories when ordering.

Must try: the most enormous cinnamon roll you’ll ever see.

Paramount Café is a relatively new on mountain hot spot. Small in size with an outdoor dining option, the Paramount is a great spot to refuel before a hike or ski on Mount Werner.

Must try: bacon, egg and cheese sandwich – it’s fancier than it sounds.

Champagne Powder Room wins the prize as the most scenic option with its’ mountain top setting. Every Sunday through Labor Day, they offer brunch on the mountain. Views abound with a gondola ride, before you take your seat in the restaurant that boasts panoramic views of the valley below.

Must try: Hazie’s Caesar salad with cornbread croutons and a Bloody Mary.

After all that eating its time to work it off with a hike, bike or paddleboard. On second thoughts, maybe its naptime – it’s not as if we slept through breakfast.

cinnamon roll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Fun and Free Activities in Steamboat Springs

June 8th, 2016

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10 Fun and Free Family Activities in Steamboat Springs hiking

Fun doesn’t need to cost a cent with a playground like Steamboat Springs. Spend a morning, an afternoon or a whole day entertaining the family without breaking the bank.

  1. Take advantage of free casting classes at West Lincoln Park, sponsored by Steamboat Flyfisher, on Saturdays at 5 p.m.
  2. Hike Emerald Mountain leaving from Blackmere Road all the way to the quarry for incredible views of Steamboat and the Yampa Valley. Climb Mount Werner later in the day to watch the sun setting over town.
  3. Play volleyball, tennis and skateboard at Howelsen Park.
  4. Paddle in the Yampa River and soak in the run off from the Hot Springs in natural pools just before Rabbit Ears Motel as you head into town.
  5. Experience Steamboat’s heritage from ranching to skiing by watching the Fourth of July Parade. Head over to Howelsen Hill to witness ski jumpers including past and present Olympians compete in the Jumpin’ Jammin’ contest. Come back when night falls for an incredible firework extravaganza.
  6. Check out: free talks, movie nights, seminars, and kids workshops at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
  7. Learn from a local naturalist at Yampatika about flora, fauna, birds, wildlife and archaeology on a free weekly-guided hike. www.yampatika.org
  8. Spend an evening strolling through downtown Steamboat visiting an eclectic mix of venues during first Friday Artwalk. Meet local artists; sip wine and snack on appetizers that are served at a variety of locations.
  9. Enjoy live music every Thursday afternoon in the Yampa River Botanic Gardens. Music on the Green is run by Strings Music Festival. Programing changes weekly. Music starts at noon and typically runs for one hour. Spend time strolling through the gardens before and after.
  10. Hike and bike to your hearts content on acres of trails from mellow pathways to adrenaline fueled climbs. www.biketownusa.com

Tubing the Yampa 7-4-2013 1-06-19 AM

Why We Love Rainy Days

May 1st, 2016

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Spring in the mountains is a tempestuous affair when it comes to the weather. Powder days have past for another season and summer pursuits are on hold until the snow melts and temperatures rise. Bikers and hikers are out and about but on rainy afternoons the great indoors comes calling.

Catch up on reading, peruse new book titles and unearth local folklore at the Bud Werner Memorial Library. Sit by the window with a freshly brewed coffee from the café and watch the Yampa River rush by. Kids are easily entertained in the children’s section where oversized beanbags and weekly activities lure mini bookworms.

Test your competitive spirit with a game of bowling at the Snow Bowl. Look out for disco bowling hours when the lights will be twirling and the music is pumping. If you are feeling creative unearth any artistic skills and paint a masterpiece at Splatz, located within the Snow Bowl.

Delve into local history and learn about the people and places that made Steamboat Springs what it is today. The Tread of Pioneers Museum on Eighth and Oak streets is a treasure trove of artifacts and information. Keep small visitors occupied on a scavenger hunt and make time to peruse the gift shop.

Who says ice cream can only be eaten in summer? Rain or shine, a trip to Lyons Soda Fountain for a hot fudge sundae always warms the soul. Put a tune on the jukebox and absorb the old-time atmosphere that keeps Lyons bustling all year round.

Shop until you drop on Lincoln Avenue. Family-owned and operated boutique stores offer an array of locally made creations from clothing to coffee. Step inside art galleries along the way including the Steamboat Art Museum which houses exhibitions by nationally re-known painters.

So our last activity is not indoors, but a little drizzle makes no difference when you are soaking in the hot springs. Relax in thermally warmed waters at Strawberry Park Hot Springs or the Old Town Hot Springs. Look for seasonal offers on massages and take relaxation to an elevated level.

Cloudy skies doesn’t mean the fun stops in Steamboat, it’s simply a case of changing the pace.

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Feeling Green?

March 17th, 2016

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Looking for a way to embrace St. Patrick’s Day in Steamboat? See what takes your fancy in our local offerings and get your green on all day long.

  • Jumpstart the day with an Irish breakfast at McKnight’s Irish Pub and Loft in Wildhorse Plaza
  • Take the healthy route with an all greens smoothie from Joose on the west side of town, or pick up their premade options delivered to Natural Grocers.
  • Ski green runs on the mountain – the view from Broadway is worth taking things at a gentle pace.
  • Expert skiers – ski St. Paddy’s Bowl.
  • Snack on locally owned Honey Stinger’s mint energy bars to keep the emerald blood levels up.
  • Shop for St. Paddy’s day sales all over town and the mountain.
  • Sip Guinness at the T-bar on the mountain or downtown at O’Neil’s Irish Tavern.
  • Join locals for some corn beef and cabbage at Holy Name Catholic Church on Oak Street.
  • Tuck into a plate of Shepherd’s Pie or Fish n’ Chips washed down with a black and tan at McKnight’s Irish Pub and Loft, while dancers from Bennett’s School of Irish Dance perform a jig or two.
  • Belt out your favorite lyrics from the Emerald Isle at the Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse in North Routt at their annual Karaoke night.
  • Watch the sky go green at the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks display at the Steamboat Ski Area.
  • Dance the night away at McKnight’s Irish Pub and Loft to Three Beards and a Fiddle then DJ Leprechaun.

 

 

 

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Leaping into Love

February 23rd, 2016

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Ten ways to propose this leap year in Steamboat Springs. marry me

Ladies, waiting for the love of your life to drop down on one knee? Listen up and wait no more. Your time has come to leave him to his dithering and do the asking yourself. This month marks a leap year and February 29 is just around the corner.

As a team who loves a touch of romance in our lives, we devised our own top-10 ways to propose in Steamboat Springs this month.

  1. Make the day last by popping the question on an early morning hot air balloon ride. Watch the valley awaken below as you cruise slowly along, hovering above Mount Werner and the meandering Yampa River. Air temps can be chilly so they’ll be good reason to cozy up.

 

  1. For the couple that loves speed, go off the beaten path on a snowmobile tour. Hahns Peak Roadhouse offers guided trips in the spectacular North Routt National Forest. Whizz up to Sand Mountain for the perfect backdrop to making the proposal of a lifetime.

 

  1. Pack a beer or a mini bottle of bubbly and head for the Steamboat Ski Area. Make your way over to Wally World, and then take Tomahawk to Baby Powder off the Sundown lift. Just over the first hillcrest on Baby Powder, hang right and look for an A-frame shape opening in a large tree. Cruise in slowly and stop inside the local’s favorite ‘tree cave’. Be sure to cross your poles at the entrance so you can have it to yourself. It’s an intimate little spot and ideal for the skier who doesn’t need to be skiing blacks or double diamonds all day.

 

  1. Share your inner cowboy on a horseback ride through some of Steamboat’s most historic ranchlands. Savor the solitude of a snow-covered aspen grove, then stop in the saddle and surprise him. Del’s Triangle 3-Ranch is the perfect outfit to make it happen.

 

  1. Strap on the snowshoes and hike down to the base of Fish Creek Falls. The frozen falls creates a fairytale like setting for popping the question. Pack a flask of hot chocolate (or a beer), and spend the next couple hours hiking the snow-packed trail or return to the overlook and raise a toast to the future.

 

  1. Do it the old-fashioned way and book lunch or dinner for two. Hazie’s Restaurant at the top of the gondola has the best view in town. Ask for a booth on the second floor for the most intimate setting. If your loved one is a foodie, then screw the view and take him to Café Diva. The food is sublime and the staff will go out of their way to make your special moment memorable.

 

  1. Take the chilled out option and opt for the thermal waters of the Strawberry Park Hot Springs. It can be busy and clothing is optional after 5 p.m., but the setting is one of the most romantic in the area. Small cabins are available for rent if you want to make a night of it, so he can hop in and out of hot water as you please.

 

  1. Add a little endurance to the mix by scaling West Summit 1A loop at Rabbit Ears Pass on cross-country skis. The climb is gradual and the views at the top are worth the exertion. Take a picnic from Backcountry Provisions or Cruisers (both make incredible sandwiches), and pop the question over lunch. You’ll feel like you are on top of the world, and you’ll likely see only a handful of folk along the way.

 

  1. Book a sleigh ride and snuggle up under the stars. Two options are available. At the Steamboat Ski Area the sleigh is pulled by snowcat but you are on top of a mountain and there is plenty opportunity to leave the group and find yourselves alone under the starry sky. Horse drawn options are available at Bar Lazy Z Ranch, Hahns Peak Roadhouse and Saddleback Ranch.

 

  1. Last but not least, take Storm Peak chairlift to the top of Mount Werner, hang left and hike up to the top of St. Paddy’s Bowl. If you are alone, pop the question, or take a few turns and find a quiet spot in the trees at the top. Whichever way it goes the drop down is steep, so you’ll either be descending on a double dose adrenaline or he’ll be put through his paces for refusing.

 

Life is for living, so take the plunge ladies and get romantic this month. Good Luck!

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