• Overall Rating
Steamboat Powdercats4.7 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
 
Steamboat Powdercats - operating since 1983
Steamboat Powdercats - operating since 1983
Steamboat Powdercats - operate 3 snowcats each day servicing 3 ability levels
Steamboat Powdercats - operate 3 snowcats each day servicing 3 ability levels
Steamboat Powdercats - has 10,000 acres of terrain i.e. 4.3 times the size of Steamboat Ski Resort!
Steamboat Powdercats - has 10,000 acres of terrain i.e. 4.3 times the size of Steamboat Ski Resort!
The trees at Steamboat Powdercats are nicely gladed and there are some nice terrain features
The trees at Steamboat Powdercats are nicely gladed and there are some nice terrain features
Steamboat Powdercats is famous for its legendary deep dry powder
Steamboat Powdercats is famous for its legendary deep dry powder
Steamboat Powdercats has some very nice open glades
Steamboat Powdercats has some very nice open glades
Steamboat Powdercats has mostly treed terrain with a small amount of alpine near the peaks
Steamboat Powdercats has mostly treed terrain with a small amount of alpine near the peaks
With Steamboat Powdercats you can expect 8 - 16 runs of powder bliss in a day
With Steamboat Powdercats you can expect 8 - 16 runs of powder bliss in a day
A typical day should have you riding 8,000 to 14,000 feet of vertical
A typical day should have you riding 8,000 to 14,000 feet of vertical
Steamboat Powdercats receives around 500 inches (13 metres) of snowfall annually
Steamboat Powdercats receives around 500 inches (13 metres) of snowfall annually
A day with Steamboat Powdercats includes breakfast, lunch, apres, guiding, cat skiing, avo safety gear, powder skis & lots of fun
A day with Steamboat Powdercats includes breakfast, lunch, apres, guiding, cat skiing, avo safety gear, powder skis & lots of fun
Steamboat Powdercats is a first-class operation through and through
Steamboat Powdercats is a first-class operation through and through
Advanced bookings are paramount; book now or you might miss out :(
Advanced bookings are paramount; book now or you might miss out :(

Steamboat Powdercats: Colorado Cat Skiing

Steamboat Powdercats is the crème de la crème of Colorado snowcat skiing, and if you head out in the backcountry with Steamboat Powdercats, you’ll definitely look like a powder cat that’s got the cream!

So why is Steamboat Powdercats the ultimate cat skiing experience? Everything is first-class, from the snowcat to the food, the service, and most importantly the powder. The powder at the Steamboat ski resort is renowned for being light, dry, and deep, yet with Steamboat Powdercats the powder is better because it’s even deeper. The average snowfall per season is over 500 inches (about 13 metres). This is the sort of powder that will get you salivating, or if you’re a real powder hound, you’ll be drooling!

Steamboat Powdercats Season The cat skiing season begins in mid December and extends through to early April. December and January typically provide cold temps that allow for some very yummy light powder snow conditions. The expert terrain typically opens by the 15th January, and prior to this time, only two snowcats run. February is probably the most popular month, and the powder continues to fall into March, although more spring-like conditions are apparent.

Why Cat Ski with Steamboat Powdercats? Steamboat Powdercats has been in operation since 1983. Many years of experience has honed the development of quality guides, a comprehensive safety program, and a great tour for guests.

Another major pro is the convenient location so you can combine cat skiing and resort skiing at Steamboat. Knowing that you’ll be riding with others of a similar capability is also a huge plus. Best of all, Buffalo Pass is a big powder factory.  It’s not nicknamed Fluffalo Pass for nothing!

Cat Skiing and Cat Boarding Packages

Steamboat Powdercats - Day Cat Skiing DETAILS
DAY SNOWCAT SKIING STEAMBOAT
Revel in Steamboat's deep dry powder
From price based on single person in a mixed group for a single day of cat skiing (2016/17 rates)
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes (ex gratuities).
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
From price based on single person in a mixed group for a single day of cat skiing (2016/17 rates)
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes (ex gratuities).
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 600
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Cat skiing with Steamboat Powdercats makes the perfect adjunct to a Steamboat ski vacation. Take in some resort skiing and then head out for a day with Steamboat Powdercats. Or if you know you’ll be hooked on riding virgin powder, go cat skiing for as many days as you’re able! More
View inclusions & Add-ons
Inclusions
  • Full day of guided cat skiing (max 12 guests per cat)
  • Breakfast, lunch, snacks & water
  • Use of avalance safety gear
  • Use of powder boards, skis & poles
  • Transfers to/from your lodging
Add-ons
No optional extras to display
Location: USA | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
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Where is Steamboat Powdercats Located?

The Steamboat Powdercats’ office is conveniently located on-mountain at Steamboat ski resort in the Clock Tower Square.

The cat skiing terrain is located on Buffalo Pass which is north of the Steamboat Ski Area, across Fish Creek Canyon. The snowcats leave from the Dry Lake Campground which is a 25 minute drive from downtown Steamboat Springs. Included in the tour is transport between the staging area and your lodging.

Steamboat is located in Colorado, 156 miles (252km) northwest of Denver.


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Snowcat Skiing Terrain

The cat skiing terrain is one of the largest in the USA at 10,000 acres (4,047 hectares). This is 3.4 times bigger than the Steamboat ski resort, and unlike the resort, you don’t have to share the powder with thousands of other skiers and boarders.

The elevation of the terrain is similar to the upper reaches of the ski resort. The terrain is all below the tree-line and has a variety of aspects, so even if it hasn’t snowed in a while, the guides can still find good quality powder.

A typical day incorporates 8 to 16 runs with approximately 8,000 to 14,000 feet of vertical skiing or boarding. Runs vary in length from 500 to 1,200 vertical feet.

Three Snowcats = Three Different Ability Levels Steamboat Powdercats has a distinct advantage over many other cat skiing companies because there are three snowcats that cater to three different ability levels. This separation allows strong intermediates the comfort of knowing that they’re not holding up gun skiers and boarders. On the flip side, experts don’t need to worry that they’ll be twiddling their thumbs whilst waiting for less experienced powder riders.

Level 1 is a backcountry introductory tour for strong intermediate or advanced skiers/boarders who have limited powder experience. The terrain covered is mostly gentle open slopes with the occasional tree.

Level 2 is an advanced tour for riders who typically spend most of their time on black and double black runs. Guests must also be confident in powder and feel comfortable tree skiing at a reasonable pace.

Level 3 is for experts who have significant experience in the powder and are comfortable ripping the steeps, tight trees, and terrain that has fun features and rocky drop-offs. You don’t have to huck, but need to feel comfortable playing in this sort of terrain.

Powderhounds' Reviews of Steamboat Powdercats

Powderhounds.com received the cat call to head to Steamboat to review Steamboat Powdercats and to prove that powderhounds can be very good friends with powdercats!

Cat skiing is an amazing powder skiing experience, but no single cat ski operation is absolutely perfect for everyone. Our review covers different aspects of the cat skiing experience so you can determine if Steamboat Powdercats is likely to align with your priorities.

Whilst Steamboat Powdercats might not be quite as awesome as some of the Canada cat skiing operations, in summary our review has rated Steamboat Powdercats as the best cat skiing in the USA! We meant it when we said on the Steamboat Powdercats overview page that this is “the crème de la crème of Colorado snowcat skiing”, the “ultimate cat skiing experience” and “first class”!

Pros

 

  • Steamboat Powdercats is a very professionally managed and tight operation, and the guiding is very impressive.
  • The quantity and quality of the powder is a major drawcard.
  • The variety of terrain is very good and the presence of steep terrain is a huge bonus. An even bigger bonus is that they form three different groups by ability level, so you can ride the terrain that’s most appropriate for you.
  • For a US operation, the size of the terrain is considerable.
Cons
  • As is somewhat commonplace in the USA, the cat ski operation has to rub shoulders with an ever growing number of ski “tourers” that access the area via snowmobile. Thankfully there are no concerns about snowmobilers high marking slopes because they have to stay on the snowcat trails. Our guides didn’t have any problems finding fresh tracks, but these “tourers” still provide the potential to poach virgin snow.
  • As is very typical of USA cat skiing, the runs are not particularly long when compared to BC cat skiing or Chile cat skiing. The runs are super sweet, but unfortunately the fun is over all too soon.
Powder Snow
Buffalo Pass (aka Fluffalo Pass) gets bigger dumps of snow than the Steamboat Resort and with an average of over 500 inches (12.7 metres) per season, this is more than standard for a USA cat ski operation.

The Steamboat area is renowned for its fluffy champagne powder, and we were impressed with the snow conditions, especially considering it hadn’t snowed in a while. The only factor that may lessen snow quality is the elevation of the terrain. It maxes out at 3,292 metres (10,800 feet) which is low by Colorado standards. On the plus side, because all the terrain is below the timberline, the trees protect the powder reasonably well from the elements.
Overall Terrain
The terrain is a reasonable size for a US cat ski operation (10,000 acres versus an average of 6,600 acres), and it doesn’t appear too problematic that snowmobiling skiers share the area. Even though the terrain is all below the treeline, it has really interesting features and good variation in pitch and tree spacing. They score points for the division of guests into three ability groups (strong intermediate, advanced and expert), but lose some ground for the short runs (500 to 1,200 vertical feet versus the typical 1,500 to 2,000 feet with BC cat skiing).
Alpine Terrain
The terrain is pretty much below the tree line, although there are some south facing areas that could be defined as “alpine” where the trees are very very sparse. The pitch is equivalent to a black run and these slopes provide a lot of merriment.
Tree Skiing
Ahhh heaven! The tree skiing is superb and there are options for all ability levels. It ranges from well gladed areas to tight trees, and mellow to steep lines, and the terrain has a mix of pines and aspens. The level 3 terrain has some sweet treats in the trees in the form of little rocks and cliff-ettes to add to the fun.
Strong Intermediate Terrain

Steamboat Powdercats cater really well to skiers and boarders who are relatively new to riding powder, or prefer to stay away from the gnarly steeps. In part this is due to the dedicated snowcat for Level 1 guests, and the guides can provide a few tips on powder skiing/riding. They also have the terrain to back it up. The terrain consists of mellow meadows and gentle runs with a smattering of trees.
Advanced Terrain

Bonanza! The terrain for advanced riders is almost perfect considering the variety of aspects, tree spacing and pitch. If only the runs went on for miles and miles…..
Expert & Extreme Terrain

The pitch hits 40 degrees in places and the Level 3 terrain has some tight trees to keep experts on their toes, as well as little cliffs and rocks to pop off (or launch if you so desire!). There are no couloirs or crazy lines that would make you cry for your mummy, but considering the delicious powder, most experts will be kept pretty happy.

Otherwise experts will be entertained with small cliffs that are sprinkled through parts of the terrain.
Guiding
Legendary! All three guides were outstanding (they have a lead guide, tail guide and snowcat driver, and switch these roles between runs). One guide in particular was really excitable, but all of them had vivacious personalities and with all their whooping and cheering (and even weird dog noises!), you couldn’t help but be excited and have an absolutely awesome time. Charisma and sense of fun aside, the guides were very professional and their instructions were incredibly clear.

On some runs there was a photographer who essentially complemented the guiding team.
Snowcat
The three snowcats all have different cabins. All cabin formats had very slight cons but generally they had a very good layout to optimize comfort and socialization between runs. All their snowcats have rear steps for straightforward entry, they’re well insulated, and “Felix the cat” has windows in the roof to maximize appreciation of the vistas. Generally the snowcat could get to the bottom of the run at the same time as the riders, and there were no problems with power.
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies

Steamboat Powdercats probably put a lot of effort into minimizing avalanche risk, but this wasn’t particularly apparent to guests out in the field. And whilst their website outlines the required certification of their guides, there is no information about their avalanche risk mitigation strategies or avalanche forecasting. Nevertheless, their approach is better than other USA cat skiing companies we’ve reviewed, but it’s still not up to the standards evident with BC cat skiing.

In addition to the safety gear carried by the guides, two guest packs with a shovel and probe were provided.

Along with San Juan Ski Company (now called San Juan Untracked) Steamboat Powdercats are providing leadership to establish a USA cat skiing association which will introduce safety regulations and minimum standards. This is very commendable and an important step for the Colorado cat skiing industry. This speaks volumes for the emphasis that they want to place on safety.
Safety Briefing
The safety briefing was very good for a USA cat skiing operation. A written safety sheet was provided to guests to supplement the verbal briefing provided by the guide. The latter didn’t incorporate what to do in the event of an avalanche, but it included an overview of the hazards of the snowcat. There was no practical component to the safety briefing such as shovelling techniques or probing, and no beacon search practice. Their approach to the beacon was to show us where the off button was, in case one of the guides needed to do a search!
Frills

Steamboat Powdercats provides a first class experience and takes care of all the little extras. They provide transport to and from your accommodation, they sort you out for fat skis, provide a light breakfast, and keep you fuelled up in the cat. The level I and II groups get a hot hearty lunch in the cabin, whilst the Level 3 crew are kept very happy with a gourmet focaccia in the snowcat.

One of the most impressive frills is the presence of a professional photographer who does a pretty snappy job!! Sure, some other cat skiing operations have a photographer, but they either charge for the privilege of the service and/or the photos or disc cost a bomb. With Steamboat Powdercats this is all included in the price!

A collection of the photos are screened during après drinks, which is a very fine way to finish a marvellous day out powder skiing.
Value for Money

It costs a little more than many other US cat ski companies, but you get a lot for your money with great terrain, lovely snow, and all the little extras.

Notes Regarding Review The review is largely based on our experience, but also on discussions with staff, former guests, and information available on their website. Our review has some limitations as it’s not possible to ski or board every run and in all possible snow and weather conditions. Every guide is somewhat different and we acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different. The ratings are from our perspective only.

The photos and video (coming soon) are not filmed using professional riders, but rather they aim to show examples of a “real” experience.

Check out our cat and heli ski ratings to see how Steamboat Powdercats fares against other backcountry operations.

Reviews

Cold smoke

Tim Logemann
02/03/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Home Country
    USA
  • Month:
    February
Had a great day with Steamboat PowderCats. Great terrain, good guides, managed the group well and got us ton's of fresh Pow! Even stayed a littel late when we had delay in the Am due to Cat problems. Highly recomend

Terrific Operation

Gary Feinberg
05/01/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Home Country
    United States
  • Month:
    December
We have skied with Steamboat Powdercats every Christmas week for the past 5 years. They run a stellar operation. This year there had been no snow in a week yet they have so many runs and faces they were able to get us powder turns throughout the day. Some years there is so much fresh snow you don't see another track all day.

They offer 3 levels of tours. Level I is mostly open and is a great introduction to powder skiing. Level I is our personal favorite. Level II stays mostly in the trees and Level III is steeper and finds the tightest trees. The terrain is not particularly steep.

The guides are super friendly and are all certified ski patrollers. They will even provide advice on skiing the powder to the less experienced.

A day here comes with a great lunch in their private, heated cabin hidden somewhere back on the Buffalo Pass. Nothing like a fresh, hot lunch to improve the experience.

What an amazing time!

Jeff Martin
28/02/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Home Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    January
I was invited on a last minute trip to steamboat with some friends. While I was there I booked a couple days with steamboat powdercats. All I can say is it is awesome,amazing, and very addicting. I have done four day trips with them and I have two more scheduled next month.

2014/15 season has been a bit of disappointment snow wise. Yet the guides still manage to find 2" deep powder stash's for me :) I was there on a 11" powder day it was nothing short of amazing.

Every aspect of the operation is first class. The guides are very helpful and experienced. They will pick you up and drop you off at your lodging. Feed you breakfast at the office and an amazing lunch at their cabin up on the mountain.

The terrain ranges from wide open meadows, to aspen groves and fir/pine trees. I have been on level 1 runs to date. The guides will asses the groups riding abilities and pick the terrain to fit the group. The people on the trips have been amazing as well I have made many new friends on the trips. You will not be disappointed on your trip.

1st Level 3 tour of 2011/2012

Matt Gibson
20/02/2012
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Home Country
    USA
  • Month:
    January
Four friends from the flatland of Iowa, North Carolina, New York, and New Jersey (The Flatland Four) do a stag ski trip every year. This year like last year we picked Steamboat Springs, CO. Last year for the first time we all decided to go Cat Skiing and it was awesome! So, this year we did the same.

We were nervous because of lack of snow, but were rewarded with the first Level 3 trip into the backcountry of the season. The snow was good, in some places a little wind blown and crusty on top, but in trees it was perfect. We had anywhere from 6 to 18 inches of powder and the Steamboat Powder Cats (SPC) always took us to make fresh tracks every run.

The guides were AWESOME, some of the runs a little short. We ate lunch in the Cat as we moved locations which was nice not to lose time or a lap. I have never been Cat Skiing or Heli Skiing before so I don't have anything to compare this with, but I would definitely visit SPC again. It is reasonably priced and very easy to get to. If you are on a budget and live in the States this is THE place to go. Happy Trails!

Ahhh...Sweet Steamboat Powder!!!

POWDERHOUNDS.COM
17/02/2012
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Home Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    January
Steamboat Powdercats is the best cat skiing we’ve done in the USA. Whilst the terrain doesn’t quite match that found with some of the Canada cat skiing operations, it’s still very impressive and has plenty of variation.

Major pros of Steamboat Powdercats include: three snowcats for different abilities; quality and quantity of snow; a well managed operation; great guides; and first class service and little extras.

For more detail see our Steamboat Powdercats review and our powderhounds cat and heli ratings.