(From Luxury Travel Magazine, Australia)
“This is a cowboy town that just happens to have a ski resort in it,” a local in a Stetson explains. He has a point – Steamboat Springs sells as many Stetsons as North Face ski jackets. At its most famous rancher outfitting store – FM Light & Sons (“Outfittin’ The West For 100 Years & Five Generations”) – you can choose between knives, pistols, rifles, banjos, jerky or something from Gun Tote’N Mamas (the brand for affordable leather concealed weapon handbags). But then the alternative lifestylers have their place: like a lot of Colorado mountain towns, there are just as many hippies as cow-bothering types, you’ll find just as many flyers for Pure Flow Yoga Retreats and meditation workshops as posters for rodeos or snowboard competitions.
But that’s Steamboat Springs’ appeal, for this is the ski town with the lot. First and foremost, it offers skiers one of the largest ski mountains in the United States (1,200 hectares). Its tree runs are legendary – the perfect spacing between aspens and pines makes Steamboat the best tree skiing mountain on earth. Let’s not forget the snow; for that’s Steamboat’s real trump card. This is the home of champagne powder, that is, snow with the lowest water content in the entire United States, meaning it’s as light and fluffy as anything on the planet. The name also gives away its other infamous natural phenomenon, its natural springs.
Just outside town, Strawberry Park offers the most spectacular mineral springs in the world. Set amongst forest, you can sit in natural rock pools while snow falls into naturally heated water and elk feed meters away. You can also experience Watsu massage in the hot pools, where therapists gently knead your body while holding you in the hot water.