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Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Community Legacy

This remote northwest region of Colorado had long-served as the Ute Indians’ summertime hunting grounds. Later, trappers and mountain men pursued small game to sell the hides to the fur traders. Legend has it that French fur trappers thought the spring along the Yampa River sounded like a steamboat.

In 1875 James Crawford arrived with his family to file a homestead claim and establish what would become the town of Steamboat Springs. Rugged homesteaders soon followed to raise cattle or sheep. Others established businesses or worked in the nearby gold and coal mines.

The town remained isolated until the arrival of the Denver, Northwest and Pacific Railroad in 1908. The rail line from Denver across the Continental Divide enabled year-round transportation of livestock and coal as well as passenger travel. Today, the railroad still transports coal from the region.

Under the influence of Norwegian ski jumper Carl Howelsen, skiing became a recreational pursuit of local families beginning in 1913. By the 1950s, the town was dubbed “Ski Town USA.” Today Steamboat Springs is a world-class ski destination and claims more Olympic athletes than any other town in North America.

Did you know that Steamboat Springs was once the largest cattle shipping point in the nation?

While Northwest Colorado saw many open range cattle operations, Steamboat Springs attracted a different crowd of hopefuls—homesteaders. The promise of free land convinced settlers to endure the area’s deep snow winters; but it was a hard life and some gave up. The ones who stayed started family ranching traditions that continue to this day.

Our rodeo history is over 100 years old. Though roping skills were more useful on the open range than on smaller family ranches where hay production was prevalent, rodeos were and continue to be a popular tradition. Ranchers could earn fame and prize money by testing their ranch skills in competitions. In the early 1900s, even the smallest Routt County towns hosted rodeos, which attracted celebrity broncs and riders.

Don’t miss Steamboat’s Summer Pro Rodeo Series—voted one of the best in the West!

Did you know that Perry-Mansfield, in Strawberry Park, is the oldest continuously operating performing arts school and camp in the nation?

The citizens of Steamboat Springs have embraced arts, culture, and learning since the town’s beginning. Even before the town was incorporated, the community founded a public library, chartered a public school, and cultivated the arts. Beginning in 1914 summer students from across the nation traveled to Steamboat Springs to attend the Perry–Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. Dedication to the arts and learning still thrives through the town’s art galleries, concerts, performances, library, museums, and schools.

Once you’ve visited Perry-Mansfield, retrace the footsteps of the Northern Ute Indians and early homesteaders by enjoying the medicinal and spiritual qualities of mineral and hot springs both in Strawberry Park and downtown Steamboat Springs. Self-guided tour brochures are available here (scroll to bottom of the page)—or pick one up at the Tread of Pioneers Museum or numerous other locations.)

Did you know that you can participate in our western heritage and outdoor recreation year-round?

Steamboat Springs, Ski Town USA,® is a renowned summer and winter vacation destination with two ski areas, the Steamboat Ski Area and Howelsen Hill, three Colorado State
Parks, three championship golf courses, an indoor-outdoor tennis center, and more than 150 natural springs. It is a popular destination for biking, hiking, kayaking, fly fishing, horseback riding, skiing, snowmobiling, and other outdoor sports.

Magical lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and trail systems cater to memorable activities. Be sure to check out our recreation icons: Fish Creek Falls, Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Yampa
River Core Trail, Emerald Mountain, and Continental Divide Trail.





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