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Trip Report Trip Report: Skiing Steamboat w/an 11 y.o.

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Haven't posted here in awhile, but felt the need to repay the research I found on Fodor's for this trip!

I was searching for a spring break skiing destination for me & my 11 y.o. - needed sufficient spring snow, the thinnest crowds possible, and affordable airfare from DC. Ruled out the Denver-driveable slopes (did Breckenridge awhile back on Presidents Day...never again!), and Park City's sites were too southern to count on snow. Narrowed it down to Big Sky, Sun Valley and Steamboat. (those just out of day-trip range) Found a random airfare sale to Hayden, so Steamboat won.

I used the GoAlpine shuttle to avoid the rental car hassle, but I'd recommend that you run the numbers. The drive from Hayden airport to Steamboat was about 30 minutes and flat (compared to navigating Vail pass...) b/c it follows the path of the Yampa Riverbed.

For the 2 of us, I wanted a hotel, and the Holiday Inn had an indoor pool, free shuttle to slopes and on-site restaurant. Might have been biased b/c I'm a Priority Club member. There are not a lot of other chains- La Quinta and a Fairfield I think. Would recommend the HI option to others, except to warn that the restaurant is actually part of a highly-regarded local group, and reservations are highly recommended. (who knew?) The hotel is also on the free local bus route, which provides a worthwhile 2nd transit option. Seems that condos are popular, but its all about location and transportation to the slope. The closer to the bus route, the better, imho.

The skiing at Steamboat was great, and the short lines were even better. Even in prime Spring Break, I went straight onto several lifts, all day long, no waiting. Ski school was such a hit that a second day was requested by the 11 y.o.. (don't be scared off by the seeming chaos at the base of the school...they have a method to sort the ability & age effectively). The only negative was the cost...adult lift tickets were $99, ski school was $160 for 9:30-2:30. It did get a little slushy in the afternoon as the temps approached 48-50 degrees, but I think this was to be expected with the season. There weren't as many "greens" as I expected, but the variety of blues made up for it. I'm not one to ski blacks at all, so I appreciated the range of easier trails.

Have never seen such a gambit with ski rentals- coupons abound but I think they are all pretty much the same. Our equipment from Terry was ok, but I noticed better stuff from Steamboat Bike and Ski Kare after the fact- no idea how the price compared, though. For the lowest price, rent from a location in town, vs. on the slope but you'll need to consider transport.

The town of Steamboat was so manageable for the 2 of us! Spent one evening strolling the avenue, enjoyed dinner at the Cantina, felt totally safe even after dark. On our last day, we were too sore to ski and spent the day touring. Really enjoyed the Tread of Pioneers Museum off 8th St. Took about 70 minutes,and totally engaged both of us with the exhibits of the town's evolution from homestead site, to cattle town, then ski town. Loved the variety of local crafts, art galleries, and Steamboat kitsch. In other words, the town doesn't take itself too seriously, yet had enough to interest us on a non-ski day.

We would certainly return if our budget and calendar allow!

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