By Vince Rosa
Traditional activities in Colorado mountain communities are popular things like mountain biking, skiing, hot air ballooning, hiking and many more options that involve the great outdoors. Steamboat Springs has all these adventurous and entertaining activities, but also offers groups and tourists something unique in the form of cultural heritage opportunities, which are authentic experiences made possible through local lifestyle and history that spans the last 200 years or so.
Meeting participants in Steamboat Springs will find out that residents from early times until present have engaged in a mixture of lifestyles and professions such as ranchers, miners, farmers, outfitters, Olympians, ski resort operators and more. Our town blends these lifestyles with our current resort amenities offering an ultra-memorable experience.
Native Americans also are key to the community’s history. Area lore claims that a Ute tribal leader cursed the Yampa Valley saying, “Those who come to the Yampa Valley to live will never be able to leave. … If they do succeed in leaving the valley, they’ll be forced to return.” As curses go, it’s not a particularly bad one to have, as locals of today would claim that people and groups return today for the area’s beauty not because of a curse.
When visiting Steamboat, groups can experience the area the community as it was generations ago with tours of working ranches, stock dog challenges trials, walking or biking tours of historic downtown, mining tours, excursions to Strawberry Park Hot Springs or The Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch, and stagecoach tours. Only have a couple of hours? Take a walking tour of our natural hot springs and learn how Steamboat got its name.
To get a broad look at much of the area’s history, the Tread of Pioneer Museum displays various ranching, mining and pioneer life artifacts from Routt County, a comprehensive history of skiing exhibit, a Native American display and historic photograph collection. The Western room traces ranching life, the rodeo and the story of an infamous outlaw, Harry Tracy. Another room offers rotating displays such as quarter horse traditions since the 1886 now on view. Our team recently held a team-building event with a fact-finding scavenger hunt within the museum, and we learned how much we didn’t know about our famous town.
Steamboat is proud of our Olympic heritage, too. We’ve had 88 Winter Olympians train at our Winter Sports Club located at our downtown Howelsen Hill Ski Area, Colorado’s oldest ski area in continuous use. Groups have enjoyed the unique lodge at Howelsen Hill to hold a function and watch our ski jumping, mogul skiing, racing and big air athletes. You might recognize see some names and photos on the walls of past Olympians that started in Steamboat. Who knows, you might even see a current or future Olympian while visiting!
Adding one of our cultural experiences during a stay in Steamboat will enhance your next meeting. I guarantee attendees will remember some of Steamboat’s historical or fun facts, talk about it again and again, and want to return … the Yampa Valley Curse maybe?
Vince Rosa is Director of Group Sales for Sheraton Steamboat Resort & Villas and has lived in Steamboat for more than 18 years and worked in town a few years prior to that (did he experience the Yampa Valley Curse perhaps?). He enjoys mountain biking, skiing and exploring the region and always feels something special when driving back into the valley after traveling.