Photo Credit: Noah Wetzel
Steamboat Springs is home to breathtaking landscapes, fresh air, and an abundance of recreation, making it the ideal destination for a vacation in the great outdoors. With endless summer activities, there’s something here for everyone. To maintain the natural beauty of the Yampa Valley and ensure the future of tourism here, it’s essential to know what you can do to take part in sustaining and preserving our community and surroundings so that Mother Nature can continue to provide us with plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun.
LEAVE NO TRACE.
Whether you’re hiking, biking, camping, or just strolling the streets of Downtown Steamboat Springs, it’s important to adhere to our “Leave No Trace” policy. Steamboat Springs partnered with the Colorado Tourism Office to inspire visitors and locals alike to protect our beautiful county and preserve what makes it so special for generations to come. Here are a few tips to ensure that you “leave no trace.”
Do your research. Make a plan ahead of time and know what amenities and options you have with your activities. If you’re planning for a day hike, make sure to know where to park, if there are public restrooms available, dog leash policies, and of course, bring a trail map. Bring a reusable water bottle to limit waste and stay hydrated in our dry climate. Plan out your hikes to stick to trails, avoid shortcuts, and be aware of wildlife. Leave things like plants, rocks, and campsites as you found them, and avoid carving or cutting plants and trees to maintain the natural and healthy surroundings. Most importantly, “pack it in, pack it out” when it comes to trash, and make sure you leave a place even cleaner than you found it. Not only does maintaining trash keep a clean area for yourself and future visitors, but it also keeps our wildlife safer.
RESPECT THE YAMPA.
One of the highlights of Steamboat Springs is the beautiful Yampa River flowing through downtown. We are so lucky to have river recreation out our back doors, but with that comes the responsibility to keep the river healthy so we can continue to have fun on the water. Maintaining the cleanliness of the river not only provides healthy fisheries for world-class fly fishing but also allows for other river recreation like kayaking, paddleboarding, and of course, tubing.
While tubing the Yampa is a definite favorite summer activity, making sure you do it safely and responsibly is of utmost importance. Tubing season typically begins in July and lasts through August, but this is dependent on snow-melt and rainfall. We’ve experienced very dry summers for the past few years and have had river closures as early as the beginning of July, cutting off all recreation on public water on the Yampa. Before you grab your tube for a float, make sure the river is open for recreation and safe for tubing. Also, keep in mind some basic safety tips including, wearing a life jacket, wearing shoes with straps (no flip-flops), properly store your valuables, keep hold of your trash for proper disposal, and absolutely no glass on the river.
The safest and most reliable way to tube the Yampa or enjoy other river recreation like fishing or kayaking, is through a local outfitter. They’ll provide the most convenient and enjoyable experience, particularly if you’re here visiting. If you do choose to tube or recreate privately, make sure you’re aware of public and private sections of the river, parking locations, and safety regulations to ensure you’re following the proper protocols.
HIT THE TRAILS.
Among Steamboat’s most popular summer activities is hiking and biking on our many miles of trails. Following proper trail etiquette will lead to a more pleasurable experience for both you and others.
First of all, know your right of way and follow trail signage. Generally, hikers coming uphill have the right of way. If you’re descending the trail, kindly give space to the people climbing up. Bikers yield to hikers and horses, and hikers yield to horses or other pack stock. As a biker, when you approach a hiker, it’s best to come to a complete stop or move to the side to give the hiker the right of way. If you approach a hiker from the same direction, gently announce yourself as hoping to pass so they are aware you’re behind them on their right or left. Lastly, it’s important to make sure that you’re aware of trail systems and what types of activities are allowed there – some trails are biking only or foot traffic only, so you want to have a plan beforehand to know where to go.
Additionally, be mindful of your surroundings and wildlife. If you encounter wildlife, make sure to keep a safe distance and later alert other trail users of the encounter so they’re aware of the general location. Make sure you can maintain awareness of your surroundings – keep music to a minimum so you can hear any wildlife that may be around you. And do your best to avoid damaging plant life and vegetation, following the Leave No Trace tips for maintaining the natural beauty of our trail systems.
In the words of Smokey Bear, “only you can prevent forest fires.” As we’ve experienced some record drought summers recently and low snowpack, preventing fires has never been more important. Our dry climate and warm temperatures draw many people to the area to escape hot and humid summers in other parts of the country, but the conditions here also create an environment that’s susceptible to fire danger. Across the state, wildfire conditions and regulations may vary, so before you head out for a weekend of camping, it’s important to note what the current policies are and to know how you can safely and responsibly enjoy your campsite.
Make sure to check the local restrictions before you set up camp. Checking the Colorado Division of Emergency Management is a great resource for the most up-to-date information in the area. Assuming there isn’t a fire ban in place and campfires are allowed, make sure your campfire is small and manageable and preferably in a designated fire ring. Never let a fire burn unattended, and make sure to fully extinguish it with water until cool to the touch before leaving your campsite or going to sleep. Avoid using fireworks or anything with an open flame. Properly dispose of trash and cigarettes, and don’t place things like cans, bottles, or plastic in the campfire. Most importantly, if you don’t feel that the conditions are safe enough to light a campfire, err on the side of caution and avoid starting one. For more information on how you can safely prevent forest fires, visit Colorado.com.