Skiing and snowboarding have been this winter's activities of choice! It's one of the few things that's remained relatively unchanged this year and feels very normal. It's outdoors, masks (a.k.a. gators) are part of the regular gear and social distancing is a must - flying down a mountain within six-feet of someone else is not a good idea. While, mountain sports remain the same, there have been a few minor changes. Most importantly, you MUST book ahead. So, if you're thinking about going, purchase your lift tickets online before you get there!
My family and I took a few local ski trips this winter. However, most recently, we headed to Steamboat Springs, CO, for our big trip. We rented a house right on the slopes, that fit our entire family (all 17 of us) and had a blast!
We've been going to Colorado for the past three years. In fact, it was the last trip we took, before the lockdown last year, and the first trip we took this year. Normally, we head to Beaver Creek and Vail but this year we switched it up and went to northern Colorado.
We were able to fly directly from Newark to Hayden, CO (Steamboat Springs). Flying was a decision we took seriously. We weighed the risks and decided that the metal boost from this trip was worth the risk. In full-disclosure, only three out of 17 of us had not had covid-19 or been vaccinated. If you're expecting the airports to be quiet, THEY'RE NOT! Newark Airport was packed with families ready to travel again. So if crowds make you nervous, now might not be the right time for you to travel.
Colorado is known for their spring skiing. So, if you're thinking about a trip, March is an awesome time to visit. Every mountain in Colorado remains open through the month. That's also when they typically have their deepest base. When it's not snowing, the days tend to be sunny, warm and beautiful.
Steamboat Springs is near Wyoming and has a completely different vibe than Vail and Beaver Creek. Where the southern mountains feel very ritzy, Steamboat Springs has a distinct western influence. You can easily find a new cowboy hat and wear it in good company.
The mountain itself is huge and spread out. Steamboat was sold out when we were there, however the only time we saw a line was in the morning at the gondola, when everyone headed up for the day. We quickly learned to head up the mountain from the Thunderhead Express lift. There was never a line. There's no parking there and it's about a mile from the main base area and parking, so it's a bit tricky to get to.
Once you're up, the beauty of the rocky mountains is in full view. You can see an unending line of mountains and valleys that stretch to the horizon. It's absolutely stunning! Snow-covered pines and feet of fresh powder make you feel like you're in a storybook, you almost expect Hermey the Elf to step out and start up a conversation. In other words, it's magical!
The skiing and riding is incredible. Steamboat is known for their powdery, tree runs. A cross between floating and flying, cruising through evergreen tunnels in powder up to your knees is an unforgettable feeling - both scary and exhilarating. Just keep in mind that you always go with a partner, as tree wells are a hazard. We spent a week in Steamboat and were able to see maybe a third of the mountain. We still have so much more to explore! I think we'll be making our yearly Colorado pilgrimage to Steamboat from now on!
If you're considering a ski or snowboard trip, there's still time to squeeze one in!