Steamboat Powdercats Colorado
Our Terrain Ratings
 Beginner
 Intermediate
 Adv. on-piste
 Off-piste
 Slackcountry Not Rated
 Expert
 Extreme
 Tree skiing
 Snow
 Freshies
 Uncrowded
 Lifts
 Terrain park
 Powderhound
powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Lifts & Terrain

Steamboat Ski and Snowboard Terrain Steamboat Colorado is a large ski resort with 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) of skiable terrain spread across six peaks, so there are lots of different aspects to explore and the 1,118 metres of vertical is not continuous. The ski resort is below the tree line, and the tree skiing is Steamboat’s hallmark. The intermediate terrain is also a major strength of Steamboat, although the ski resort is a good all-rounder with a range of terrain for all ability levels.

Steamboat is a far cry from an undiscovered ski resort, so fresh tracks don’t last super long on a powder day, but at least it’s not crowded like the ski resorts closer to Denver.

The Steamboat ski area 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 extreme skiers describe Steamboat as “flat”.

Steamboat Lifts Steamboat ski resort is serviced by 18 lifts and various magic carpets at the base area. The lift infrastructure is pretty good with a gondola and 6-pack lift that rise from the base, and there are also 5 high speed quads. Unfortunately the rest of the lifts consist of slow doubles, triples and quad chairs, a couple of which are somewhat superfluous because they run parallel to a faster chair. Lift capacity is generally pretty good, and it’s really only on powder days and peak holiday times that lift queues may develop at the base area.

Lift Tickets Lift ticket prices have risen significantly over the past few years, 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.

They have a good deal for kids whereby children aged 6-12 ski free when their parent or grand-parent purchases a 5 day or more lift pass. Kids aged 5 and under ski free (no conditions attached).

There are also significant discounts on lift passes for beginners, and thankfully Steamboat is on the Ikon Pass.

Steamboat Snow and WeatherSteamboat’s famous dry champagne powder is the result of its 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 powder isn’t necessary well retained because many of the slopes are south 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.

Steamboat receives 8.9 metres (350 inches) of snow per season, which is slightly above average for a Colorado ski resort. Mother Nature’s goodness is supplemented with man-made snow that covers 152 hectares; 13% of the terrain.

For the Beginner Steamboat has very good terrain for beginners and easy progression steps. Ski school uses various magic carpets and fenced off dedicated areas for the little learners. The base area also has a good range of green trails that can be accessed off the express 6-pack lift. Confident beginners can head up the gondola to try more challenging trails such as the Why Not trail, a run that’s 4.8km (3 miles) 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. 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 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.

Advanced Ski and Snowboard Terrain Steamboat is also 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 are a mix of aspens and pines, and lots of variation with regards to pitch and tree spacing. The tree skiing is pretty spectacular; it’s just a shame that you can’t have them all to yourself!

Expert Skiing and Snowboarding 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 one 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 gnarly terrain isn’t completely true. There are steeps but there are too few of them and they’re very short. There’s not enough variety to keep experts entertained for more than a couple of days. Of course if there’s fresh powder in the trees, then that’s an entirely different matter!

Backcountry The Mt Werner area provides gated backcountry access, and Fish Creek Canyon is a favourite 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.

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  • Vertical (m)
    2,103 – 3,221 (1,118)
  • Average Snow Fall
    8.9  metres
  • Lifts (18)
    1 gondola
    1 high speed 6 pack
  • Ski Hours
    8:30am - 4:00pm
    late Nov - early April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 165
    Longest run – 4.8 km
    Advanced - 44%
    Intermediate - 42%
    Beginner - 14%
  • Lift Prices (Day 11-12)
    Adult - $99
    Child - $60