March 25th, 2014
Steamboat Springs has done it again, ranking ranked 4th out of 20 different locations as the “Best Small Towns To Visit in 2014″. Every year the Smithsonian magazine releases a list of 20 different small towns they feel are worthy of the the weary traveler. Steamboat Springs, CO coming in fourth was no surprise to the locals that love this town, but the reasoning for why Steamboat Springs is the place to be this summer was the most interesting.
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, not only is Steamboat worthy of visiting for their trademarked “champagne powder” but also their music scene is impeccable. The 300 days of sunshine, the ability to host a concert at the base of the ski resort, and a pavilion dedicated to hosting chamber orchestras allows for Steamboat to be a popular place to visit. Steamboat is a town that shocks many by this wide array of music. People from far and wide will venture over the hill into the Yampa Valley to hear the sweet melodies that arrive. Travelers can find a summer concert series at the String Music Pavilion, which is built of exposed timber with a bowstring-like truss ceiling and stunning Rocky Mountain views, opened in the summer of 2008. Since then, the festival has embraced country, jazz and bluegrass, added winter offerings at the pavilion and free summer concerts at the Yampa River Botanic Park. The ski area stages MusicFest, a wildly popular weeklong winter event with 40 bands, including American Aquarium, Midnight River Choir and the Turnpike Troubadours. A recent restoration of the 1926 Chief Theater downtown provides another place for music, as well as film, dance and drama.How is it that Steamboat is becoming such a sought out destination in the Summer Months? This music! People are planning their travel around who is playing in town that weekend.
The most obvious reason one may wander into Steamboat Springs, well that’s easy, the snow. The dry snow creates a light fluff that is explained as “champagne powder” which creates for a lot of interest in winter sports. Earlier this year Steamboat sent 15 athletes to the Olympics and since 1932 Steamboat has sent 79 athletes to the Olympics. Winter sports are a large part of the town’s history, though skis were called Norwegian snowshoes 150 years ago, and tended back then to be worn when feeding cattle, delivering mail and going to school as the drifts piled up along wire ranch fences. But in 1913 Capt. Carl Howelsen came to town to demonstrate the derring-do that had made him a renowned Barnum & Bailey Circus performer. The “Flying Norseman” got a warm welcome, found a good hill just west of town and proceeded to build a wooden ski jump where he taught local kids how to fly. Howelsen Hill, now run by the city of Steamboat Springs, is the oldest continuously operating ski area in Colorado. It is also a summer concert venue.
Unlike some tony resort towns in the West, Steamboat holds onto its cowboy past as if its life depended on it: The rodeo arrives in summer. The town’s homesteading, ranching and hot springs resort history is told at the Tread of Pioneers Museum in the historic center not far from the Yampa River, which runs from its source in the Flat Tops Wilderness. F.M. Light & Sons, a western outfitter, recommends western movies on its website. Steamboat is a town within it’s own