Ski Steamboat Resort

Ski Steamboat Resort

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
Steamboat Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    6,900 – 10,568 (3,668)
  • Average Snow Fall
    314 inches
  • Lifts (18)
    1 gondola
    1 high speed 6 pack
  • Ski Season
    late Nov - early April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 169
    Longest run – 3mi
    Beginner - 14%
    Intermediate - 42%
    Advanced - 44%
The Steamboat Resort is pretty, although it’s not as stunning as some ski resorts because there are lots of deciduous trees and no dramatic peaks. This is partly why some experts describe the Steamboat skiing as “flat”. The Steamboat Resort terrain is spread across six peaks, which can make it a little fiddly to navigate around and it often requires multiple lifts to get anywhere. The ski area only has one proper base area which is a bottleneck for uphill traffic in the mornings, and is a choke for those returning to the base for lunch or at the end of the day. Despite a few shortcomings, most people who ski Steamboat will enjoy the very well rounded terrain.

Ski Steamboat - Lifts

Steamboat Resort is serviced by 15 lifts plus a few surface lifts. The lift infrastructure is pretty good with a gondola and 6-pack lift that rise from the base, and there are also 6 high speed quads. Unfortunately the rest of the lifts consist of slow doubles and triples, a couple of which are somewhat superfluous because they run parallel to a faster chair.

Lift queues can be very long on powder days and peak weekends at the base area.

Lift Tickets

Lift ticket prices have risen significantly, and Steamboat day passes are now amongst the most expensive in the country. The rates seem a little out of sync with the quality of the lift system and infrastructure on offer. If you book online at least 7 days prior you can get a bit of a discount, especially for weekdays, yet if you rock up to the ticket window expect to pay exorbitant prices.

The resort hits you up for further dollars if you want to get First Tracks, and there are also First Tracks Seasons Passes, which provides an indication of the likelihood of getting any fresh tracks if you don’t have a first tracks pass!

Steamboat Resort has a good deal for kids whereby children 12 and under ski free when their parent or grand-parent purchases a 5 day+ lift pass.

The Ikon Pass provides unrestricted access to Steamboat on the full pass, whilst the Base Pass offers limited days.

Steamboat Snow

Steamboat receives 314 inches (797cm) of snow per season measured over a 10 year average, and it’s down from 350 inches back in 2010. The snowfall volumes are about average for a Colorado ski resort and Mother Nature’s goodness is supplemented with man-made snow that covers 375 acres, which equates to 12.5% of the terrain.

With respect to Steamboat snow quality, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The snow that falls is the famous dry champagne powder which results from Steamboat’s location as the first major mountain range in the Northern Colorado Rockies, and a unique combination of feeder and seeder clouds. It’s often pretty cold around Steamboat which also contributes to the dryness of the powder that falls. However the quality of the Steamboat powder isn’t necessary well retained because many of the slopes are south and west facing and the ski resort is at low elevation. The base elevation of Steamboat is the lowest of the Colorado ski resorts. Commonly the runs near the base are icy and hard packed, and the groomers don’t seem to have cottoned onto good grinding techniques to minimise the slickness of slopes. The run “Heavenly Daze” scores the nickname “Heavenly Glaze” or “Heavenly Graze” from regulars due to its frequent iciness. If it hasn’t snowed in a few days, get your edges sharpened.

The low elevation also results in very mushy snow during spring, and it doesn’t take long for bare ground to show through.

Ski Steamboat - Beginners

Steamboat Resort has very good terrain for beginners and easy progression steps. Ski school uses magic carpets and fenced off dedicated areas for the little learners. The base area also has a handful of green trails that can be accessed off the express 6-pack lift, although one major limitation is that these zones can become frightening when faster skiers and riders zoom through to return to the base.

Confident beginners can head up the gondola to try more challenging trails such as the Why Not trail, a run that’s 3 miles (4.8km) long and highly likely to exhaust any unfit beginner!

Intermediate Skiing Steamboat

Intermediates are very well catered for at Steamboat with lots of groomed trails of varying pitches, although at times the grooming feels a bit inadequate.

The Sunshine Express lift services various mellow blue runs and some easy tree runs. This area is south facing so it’s delightfully sunny and a good spot to work on the tan, but snow cover is sometimes lacking. Steamboat has various long steep-ish blue runs that are great for cruising or flying, such as Vagabond or Heavenly Daze.

Steamboat Resort also has blue black trails which are of similar gradient but tend to be groomed less often, so they’re good for intermediates to learn powder or bumps. They also groom a range of black runs (which are more like blue/black or double blue trails at some other ski resorts) such as See Me, Vortex and Cyclone. These can be ripping fun if you have a need for speed.

Terrain Parks & Pipe

There are lots of mature skiers at Steamboat who are perhaps a little old to be shredding it in the terrain park, so the terrain parks are often deserted. Consequently Steamboat is a very non-intimidating place to progress your tricks without feeling like there are too many pros watching, and some of the jumps are not as kicky as what you’d find at places like Keystone and Breckenridge.

Steamboat’s attempt to appeal to the younger generation is very evident through their investment in the parks and the Mavericks Superpipe. The main terrain park is serviced by its own chair lift and has a range of hits for intermediate to expert jibbers. Near the base is another terrain park for the little tackers which includes a mini pipe.

Advanced Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Steamboat is very well suited to advanced riders. In addition to the speedy steep groomers, there are lots of other black trails where you can hit the moguls until your heart’s content.

However the glades are where it’s all at. Most of the trees on the hill are skiable, and there is a mix of aspens and pines, and lots of variation with regards to pitch and tree spacing with a bias towards wide trees that are ideal for those learning. The glade skiing is pretty spectacular; it’s just a shame that you can’t have the glades all to yourself!

Ski Steamboat - Expert

It takes a bit of effort to get to and from the expert terrain at Steamboat, which is quite common at many ski resorts, but the jury is out on whether it’s worth the effort because the runs are very short before they flatten out.

The Mt Werner area has some expert runs that can be accessed with a very short hike from the lift (less than 5 minutes), or you can head straight down Chute 1. This area has some nice challenging steep terrain that is littered with rock features and trees, but the fun is over way too soon. East Face has two short shots whilst North St Pats is a slightly longer line. The snow in this shady area is generally nice, but the downside is that it's a long trail (which snowboarders may hate) to get back to the slow Bar-Ue lift, and then another lift is required to do a circuit.

So the usual rap that Steamboat receives about the lack of challenging terrain isn’t completely true. There are steeps but they are fleeting and there are too few of them, with inadequate variety to keep experts entertained for very long.


The Mt Werner area provides gated backcountry access, and Fish Creek Canyon is a beloved backcountry area of many of the locals. The Steamboat Springs area also provides lots of other backcountry skiing opportunities.

If you’re longing for fresh powder and don’t feel the need to earn your turns, head out snowcat skiing with Steamboat Powdercats for an awesome day out.