An extremely good resort in which to learn to ski. First lessons will take place in the custom-designed Headwall area at the base of the slopes, which is ideal for learning and features special beginner lifts such as carpet type conveyors. Once you can turn and stop you’ll quickly be able to get around the mountain thanks to the extensive network of very easy green circle and some of the gentle blue square graded runs.
The resort’s ski school has a range of programmes to get you skiing quickly with maximum enjoyment. Their most popular learn-to-ski clinic starts with help in renting the right gear with in-room fitting. You then have three days of lessons with the same instructor, with a ‘success guarantee’; that is, if you are not skiing (or boarding) competently and happily on easy runs you can have more lessons, free of charge, until you are.
A great choice of intermediate and easier advanced level runs here, and to get started it’s worth joining a free mountain tour (10.30am daily). Over 50s can join the “over the hill gang” for ski trips every Sunday should the mood take them.
There’s a good variety of runs with ‘gladed’ trails (pistes cut through light woodland) a common theme, but also some long cruising trails, powder bowl skiing at intermediate standard and fun bump runs (along side some fairly alarming steep ones). A network of high speed lifts makes getting around the mountain and its six peaks fast and easy.
More than two-fifths of Steamboat’s terrain is graded single or double black diamonds. Tree (or ‘glade’) skiing is particularly popular, with some of the most challenging runs in Strawberry Bowl.
The resort has plenty of steep terrain, including its three famous Chute runs that pitch at 61.8% (Chute 3) 66.7% (Chute 1) and a stomach lifting 71.4% (Chute Two). It’s also big on bumps with a dozen usually mogulled runs, the longest of which is Sundown Lift Line which also continues over the biggest vertical (about 600m). If you’re bump obsessed you can follow the bumper migration trail (BMT), comprising a series of trails accessed from Four Points, which allows you to ski/ride bumps for the entire day. It’s not on a map though, so you’ll need to find a local who’ll tell you how to find it. Snowcat skiing in the area is also a possibility.
A special experience is the chance to ski with Billy Kidd, Steamboat’s Director of Skiing who, back in 1964, was an Olympic Silver Medalist and World Champion. A sign at the top of the gondola each morning indicates whether Billy is skiing that day or not. If he is you can meet him at the top of Why Not at 1pm.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
Boarders will want to enjoy free riding on Steamboat’s famed powder as much as skiers, but they’ll also want to check out the resort’s parks and superpipe, one of the biggest in America.
The resort’s Mavericks terrain park covers 14 acres and has its own chairlift. There’s a range of jumps, tabletops, 16 rails (including kinked flat rails, mailbox sliders, rainbow rails, S-rails, double barrel and beginner rails) and a great sound system providing a backing track to it all. For skier-cross and boarder-cross racers, a course is set up in Sunbeam Terrain Park. The Rabbit Ears Terrain Park located in Giggle Gulch has six rails and four boxes aimed at beginners, as well as a small pipe.
The Mavericks superpipe is one of the biggest in North America with 18 foot (five metre) high walls and 500 feet (nearly 160m) long. Located in Bashor Bowl it’s serviced by a dedicated lift allowing users to make frequent laps without needing to go further down the mountain to get a lift up. The resort normally manages to open the pipe early in the season, usually before Christmas.
The main cross country ski area is located at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center, which has 15km of groomed trails that follow the Fish Creek river through the aspen groves of the Yampa Valley. The centre is open daily, has its own rentals if required and can reached by a free shuttle bus from the Gondola Transit Center with twice daily pick-ups. You need to purchase a trail pass to be allowed on the tracks. Group and private lessons in both of the cross country ski styles from beginner to expert level are also available.
A further option in the region is back country cross country ski tours offered by Rocky Mountain Ventures for experienced Nordic skiers. These tours, which can be a half or full day, take you out of the resort area, often up to the high Rabbit Ears Pass
Average Snow And Weather Conditions
With high altitude skiing and a snowfall average of over 30 feet (nine metres), it’s rare for there to be any problem with snow cover at the resort. Indeed snow cover is not only normally abundant, but is also made up of especially lightweight powder that has been compared to champagne bubbles, leading the resort to trademark the name ‘champagne powder.’ If you arrive when this kind of snow is dumping down it will be one of the most memorable ski experiences of your life. Despite all this, 15% of the mountain has snowmaking on key runs.