Around Colorado: Family fun in Steamboat Springs

steamboat beach joshua berman
Playing on the Burgess Creek “beach” is one of the popular summertime family activities in Steamboat Springs. (Joshua Berman, The Denver Post)

The Tenderfoot trail pulls me down the mountain, through another aspen grove, then up a high-banked turn, whipping me around to do it again. This is one of the newly constructed downhill paths at the Steamboat bike park, an ever-improving attraction that boasts 50 miles of trails, 2,000 vertical feet of lift-served downhill riding, and the attention of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, which will hold its biennial World Summit here Aug. 20-24.

But I’m just a novice, an unpracticed singletracker on a green trail, enjoying the quick downhill rush. I’m in Steamboat Springs on a random summer weekend with my daughters (who are playing by the stream below). Every ski area in Colorado has an alter ego in the summer, when existing infrastructure is retooled for warm-weather sports and summer concerts and festivals. I’d heard that Steamboat had particularly fun summer pickings, so we’re here for a sampling.

The people who live in Colorado seem to be quite lucky when it comes to relishing both winter and summer leisure and fun; they don’t even have to travel far to enjoy the best of both worlds! It’s no wonder that many people might consider buying homes in the gated communities in Colorado Springs, where families live happily with the satisfaction of safety, while also being close to plenty of vacation spots. Snowy mountains and meandering skiing routes in the winter, a paradise with plenty of hiking and biking trails in the summer make Colorado a much coveted state to live in, although it might not be fit for everyone. Nevertheless, there’s always the prospect of a wonderful vacation here!

At the bottom, I return my bicycle, helmet and pads to the Steamboat Bike Shop and walk over to the beach. Burgess Creek “beach” is actually a cool, shallow pool where diverted spring water runs across a couple of tons of play sand, but in Colorado, we take our playas where we can, and this one is designed perfectly for small splashers.

A dozen other parents here, too, and we take turns kicking back in the wooden lounge chairs placed in the water among our children. My daughters build sand castles and send their dolls down the rapids – for hours! They’re so involved in their play, they don’t even notice the mountain bikers catching insane air in the jump park right up the hill.

The next morning, we drive a few miles to Fish Creek Falls, an easy gem of a short hike that is perfect for small, curious children. The trailhead parking lot typically overflows on weekends, but we arrive early and easily find a spot. It’s only a $5 entrance fee and a quarter of a mile walk into the Routt National Forest, down a sloping trail along Fish Creek Canyon to a bridge with a view of the 283-foot-tall falls.

A paved upper trail, which is wheelchair-accessible, has a beautiful, rewarding viewpoint, and we hike that one as well.

My girls are good sports on the hike, but all they want to do is get back in the water, so we buy day passes to Old Town Hot Springs ($16 adults, $9 children,, an enormous, community-based complex of earth-warmed mineral pools and water slides where locals and visitors mix freely and families abound. It’s right downtown on Lincoln Avenue, and the hours keep flying by.

Later, we’ll hit the Steamboat Pro Rodeo ( and tomorrow, maybe the Howler Alpine Slide (, or perhaps head to the bike shop to rent a trailer for the little one and cruise down to the river trail. Right now, however, we’re bathing in warm mountain water and sunshine, content to keep splashing in the kiddie pool.

-Joshua Berman is the author of five books about travel. He can be found at JoshuaBerman.netand on Twitter@tranquilotravel. This article originally appeared in The Denver Post

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