Steamboat Colorado, aka 'Ski Town USA', is the home of Colorado's famous 'Champagne Powder', a trademarked term that describes the fabulously fluffy light powder snow that frequently blankets this region during fronts of freezing fog.
The resort is located 250km north-west of Denver, in the Yampa Valley in the isolated Park Range of the Rocky Mountains; this range forms part of North America's continental divide and acts as a climatic barrier that causes the copious precipitation of that light-textured fog-snow here throughout the winter months.
Steamboat is quite remote from the state's headline cluster of ski resorts that lie further to the south in Summit County, but this is no quiet backwater or minor cousin, Steamboat is actually one of the USA's largest ski areas, and its adjacent community of Steamboat Springs is a lively small city with plenty of authentic Western character, steeped in frontier cattle-ranching history; Stetson hats and cowboy boots are as de rigueur here as ski helmets and ski boots.
The expansive ski area at Steamboat spreads over half-a-dozen wooded peaks that rise dramatically from the wide flat floor of the Yampa Valley; the resort's sizeable base-area village sweeps in a horseshoe-shaped fashion around the huge run-out area of the home-run pistes, meaning that much of the accommodation here offers slope-side convenience.
The spacious base-area snowfields house a sizeable beginners' area and children's zones, so first-timers and youngsters don't have far to go for their first few lessons. Once they've mastered the basics, novices can then move slightly further up the hill, yet still remain within close reach of all amenities; the next step is then to take the chairlift to the nearest summit at Christie Peak, from where a superb collection of tree-lined easy trails lead back to base.
Novices also get the thrill of full peak-to-creek descents off two further higher summits set deeper in the range: Thunderhead Peak and Sunshine Peak, the latter Steamboat's highest lift-served peak at 3,165m.
Well over half of Steamboat's terrain is manageable by intermediate standard skiers and snowboarders, predominantly consisting of rolling tree-lined cruises with plenty of side-country glades and some next-level steeps to challenge progressive intermediates.
Advanced visitors should head for the hike-to bowls and steep chutes off Mt Werner, or the renowned black-diamond Closets and Shadows glade runs in the Priest Creek sector. The prime attraction for all advanced and expert visitors to Steamboat is of course its prized 'Champagne Powder', and following fresh snowfalls the many superb gladed slopes around Sunshine Peak, Storm Peak and Pioneer Ridge will certainly not disappoint.
Steamboat's four terrain parks also offer plenty to please intermediate and advanced level snowboarders and freestyle skiers; plus, at over 130m in length, the resort's famed 'Mavericks' superpipe is North America's longest.
Off the slopes and apres ski
Steamboat has a well-deserved reputation as a good old fashioned, unpretentious and friendly Western-style mountain town, with a welcoming and fun-filled atmosphere. There are over 60 on-site bars and restaurants around the mountains and the resort base area, plus many more in nearby Steamboat Springs, so there's no lack of places to eat, drink and be merry.
Apres-ski hours at base-area deck bars such as the Bear River and Slopeside are the place to be for happy-hour specials and live entertainment; the Gondola Pub and Tugboat are also well-established popular end-of-day hangouts.
Nightlife at the mountainside resort and in downtown Steamboat Springs is almost totally focused on bars and restaurant-bars, with most venues operating non-stop all-day: as breakfast and lunch diners first, then upping the volume of the music and/or hosting live bands for afternoon apres-ski happy hours, before mellowing again for dinner service, finally cranking up the volume again and clearing a space for dancing until closing time at 2am.
There are a couple of small disco-style nightclubs in town, but the best nights are definitely to be had in Steamboat's great selection of lively multi-faceted bars.
Alternative attractions and off-slope activities include horseback rides across the snow-covered Yampa Valley - cowboy hats optional - or relaxing soaks in Steamboat's natural hot springs; the resort also has an Olympic-size ice rink, swimming pools, indoor climbing walls and a fitness centre.
Bars and clubs
The Tap House
The Old Town Pub