Two-day getaway in Steamboat Springs on a budget
June 15, 2017
Steamboat Zipline Adventures
What: Six ziplines ranging from 600 feet to 1,300 feet in length during a one- to two-hour guided tour.
When: Tours are offered daily every hour starting at 9 a.m., with each day’s last tour beginning at 5 p.m. The tours run from May 5 to Oct. 30, weather permitting.
Where: 31939 E U.S. Hwy 40, Steamboat Springs. The entrance is 1/4 mile past mile marker 140.
Cost: Tickets are $85 per person in peak season, with the price decreasing to $75 outside peak season.
Peak season: June 1 to Aug. 31
Restrictions: Closed-toe shoes are required. Participants must weigh at least 65 pounds and cannot weigh more than 250 pounds. Anyone under 18 has to have a guardian sign a waiver. Reservations should be made at least 48 hours ahead of time. Show up about 20 minutes early to get outfitted with gear and sign liability waivers.
Qualifications: Zipline guides are ACCT, CPR and First Aid certified.
Life can be hard for copy editors.
We work nights and often holidays to design and edit the paper you read each morning. It just so happens my girlfriend, Casey Hutchins, works alongside me. We hardly ever find time off together.
After working together over Memorial Day weekend, we made an impromptu decision to enjoy two days off together away from Greeley.
Steamboat Springs, a four-hour drive, offered a superb choice. We thought we'd offer a few quick suggestions on how to spend two days in Steamboat on a modest budget.
We left Greeley about 9 a.m. We took the meandering Poudre Canyon up Colo. 14. As someone who has driven Interstate 70 more than he'd like, I could not recommend this route more.
We arrived in Steamboat about 1 p.m., just as eateries were getting into the full swing of the lunch rush. Salt & Lime, 628 Lincoln Ave., turned out to be a great choice. The tacos were fairly priced, and the rooftop seating allowed us to enjoy the perfect weather.
After stuffing ourselves, we drove to Steamboat Zipline Adventures, 31939 E U.S. Hwy 40. The entrance is a little hidden, but there should be a white van with the company logo on the side parked beside a small dirt road. Take that road a short distance down a hill.
We booked the zipline ahead of time online. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance. Steamboat is experiencing its peak summer season at the moment, so tickets will be $85 per person. This goes down to $75 if you book outside peak season.
Scott Miller, one of the guides for the zipline tour, said he zips about 200 people per day down the course during peak season, so be prepared for company.
Casey was frozen with fear about leaping off a wooden platform into the unknown, but the guides' encouragement and watching me go first brought her the motivation to jump. She loved it. The guides noted the equipment they use is the equivalent of what aircraft carriers use to stop jets during landing.
The zipline tour is a little shorter than we'd hoped, but that's only because each line is tons of fun, with the wind whipping past and the whir of the equipment as you zoom across ever-growing gaps. The anticipation, acceleration and glee upon setting feet on the opposite platform makes it worth the money.
We headed to our lodging at the Steamboat Grand, 2300 Mt. Werner Circle. Even with a discount for Memorial Day weekend, a king suite cost us $200, which turned out to be worth it.
For dinner, we got a table at Mazzola's Italian Diner, 917 Lincoln Ave. We made an admittedly amateur mistake here, as we ordered cheese bread as an appetizer before being informed bread and hummus is on the house.
Casey ordered a succulent lamb bolognese and pinot noir, and I opted for some butternut squash ravioli. Holy moly, this was some good stuff. Expect to pay at least $50 for a two-person meal.
We then made the long, slow drive to Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs, 44200 Routt County Road 36. Suffice it to say we made another couple amateur mistakes here.
First, be sure to be in your bathing suit before you get to the springs. There does seem to be a changing cabin, but when we arrived around 9 p.m. (there is no admittance after 9:30 p.m., and the venue closes at 10:30 p.m.), the cabin was locked up.
Second, bring your own towel. Yeah, we can't believe we forgot that, either.
The springs were worth the trouble. The lack of outside lighting made the night visit romantic and placid, despite about 50 other people being in the water.
Sit around the outside of the pool and you'll hear constant talk about which pool is hotter and which is cooler, so acclimate yourself however you wish.
One of the aspects of Colorado living Casey and I have come to adore is the hundreds of hiking trails. We woke up early on the second day of our trip and drove to the Fish Creek Falls trailhead, 125 Anglers Drive.
The beginning of this popular hike is a breeze, with the path to the first waterfall obvious and well-traversed. Above the treeline, the hike is rocky and there are plenty of sheer cliffs dropping into the raging waters below.
Casey and I could probably be classified as moderately experienced hikers, and we made the 3-mile trek to the second waterfall in about an hour and a half, taking pictures and slowing through the most beautiful sections along the way.
If you've been to Steamboat before and have already given this hike a try, Miller recommended Emerald Mountain, which he said is a favorite of locals.
Seriously, take Colo. 14 on your way back, too. Avoid I-70 at all costs, y'all.
Casey and I definitely spent more than we intended, but I would attribute this more to our love of the restaurants, people and adventures were encountered than any qualms with prices.
Do be sure to check out the small businesses in the downtown area, as the owners are more than willing to stop and chat with you in that classic, small-town way too many think no longer exists.