Steamboat, CO
According to legend, 19th-century fur trappers in the Yampa Valley heard a chugging noise that sounded like riverboat steam engines back east. It emanated from Colorado's only natural mineral geyser spouting high across the Yampa River, and gave the town its name. Steamboat Springs is now Colorado's northern-most ski resort, a sprawling mountain with all the amenities skiers have come to expect. There's a lively village, plenty of high-speed quad-chair lifts, a gondola, and lots of terrain. Steamboat is especially proud of its authentic western town that existed long before skiing put it on the map.

With north- and west-facing trails, most of Steamboat's terrain is shielded from direct sun, contributing to the snow's staying power. Wind usually directs loose snow into the troughs of moguls, making for some wonderfully soft turns. The big action is at Mt Werner, with fantastic tree-skiing, wide-open cruisers, and plenty of bumps. The aspen groves between Storm and Sunshine Peaks are glorious glade temples, rarely crowded and perfectly spaced. When the snow melts, the ski area is open for hikers and mountain bikers, tubing down the Yampa River, horseback riding, fishing, and more. There are also frequent events like the professional rodeos but, mostly, Steamboat is cherished for the balance between its modest, nostalgic town and its great ski resort.
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