Steamboat Summer Travel Tips
If you’re an experienced hiker or outdoor enthusiast, you are probably well-versed with what to expect during your Steamboat Springs summer vacation. But if a summer in the mountains is new to you, we’ve put together some summer travel tips to help you prepare for your mountain adventure. Read on to help ensure that your Steamboat vacation is wonderful from start to finish.
Packing for Your Steamboat Vacation
When it comes time to start packing for your vacation, make sure to check the weather forecast so you’re prepared even if it’s unseasonably hot or cold. Afternoon thunderstorms are fairly common. While the days may be warm, the temperature may fall up to 20 degrees at night. Your best choice is to bring clothes that can be easily layered. A combination of short- and long-sleeved shirts, hoodies or lightweight jackets, and a rain jacket are a good start. You’ll probably also want to bring both shorts and pants to accommodate for the daily temperature fluctuations. Regarding shoes, bring those that are appropriate for whatever activities you’re planning. (Sounds obvious, but you probably don’t want to head out on a long hike wearing flip-flops.) Other items, like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, are valuable additions to your suitcase as it will most likely be quite sunny during your stay.
Mountain weather is fickle and afternoon thunderstorms can sneak up on you. Plan your outdoor activities for early in the day and try to finish up by early afternoon. The clouds are usually building and ready to burst come mid-afternoon. Check the weather forecast often and plan accordingly. Keep an eye on the horizon for clouds while you’re out and about. The storms can build quickly and get to you before you think they will. If the clouds start to look ominous or if you see lightning, you’ll want to get to safety. If you hear thunder, get to a shelter immediately. Lightning strikes pose a real danger, especially if you’re out above treeline.
Altitude sickness can put a real damper on your vacation plans, but with the proper precautions, you may be able to limit or prevent symptoms. Those who ascend over 1,500 feet in one day, especially after going higher than 8,000 feet above sea level, risk altitude sickness. Downtown Steamboat sits at about 6,700 feet above sea level, but many of the nearby mountains and passes range from 9,000 to over 10,000 feet in elevation.
Before you arrive, you’ll want to make sure you’re hydrated and you should continue hydrating once you arrive. Avoid alcohol and salty foods that can dehydrate you. On your first day or two, don’t overexert yourself. You’ll need to give your body time to adjust to the altitude – especially if you’ve never been to high elevations before. Common symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, nausea, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, and shortness of breath. These will pass as you get accustomed to the elevation.
However, altitude sickness can manifest in more dangerous forms. If you or someone you’re with develops a fever, can’t catch their breath even while resting, becomes disoriented or confused, or coughs up frothy saliva, descend altitude and seek medical help immediately.
Wildlife in Steamboat Springs
In addition to the thousands of people who live in Steamboat Springs, the area is also home to a number of different animal and bird species. You’re likely to see a variety of animals on your Steamboat summer vacation, including deer, elk, raccoons, and moose. There are also larger, predatory animals like black bears, mountain lions, and coyotes.
Most of the animals that you’ll come across while in Steamboat pose little danger to people. But keep your distance all the same. Don’t feed them or leave trash out overnight and stay away from their young. Should you unexpectedly come across an animal, don’t panic or make any sudden movements. Back away slowly as you speak softly to the animal.
Mountain Lions, Moose, and Bears, Oh My
These three large mammals are the most dangerous that you’re likely to spot while in the Steamboat area. However, they are generally reclusive and shy away from humans if they know you’re coming. Make plenty of noise while you’re out in the wilderness and travel in groups. If you’ve brought your dog along, make sure to keep him on a leash so that he doesn’t unexpectedly startle any animals.
Mountain lion sightings are rare, but they do happen. If you encounter one, don’t run away. Try to make yourself look larger by raising your arms or holding a tree branch up.
Depending on weather and drought conditions, bears may venture into town to forage for food during the summer months. These animals have an incredible sense of smell, so don’t leave food in your car and always make sure that doors and windows of your rental home are locked. Curious and hungry bears have been known to break into homes and cars to get to food.
If you come across a bear, stay calm and don’t run or make any sudden movements. Slowly back away from the animal, avoid making eye contact, which can be construed as a threat, and speak softly to the animal as you leave. Should you come across a bear cub, stay away from it. If you get between a mother bear and her cubs, she may charge or attack you in order to protect her offspring.
Moose should always be avoided. While they don’t look like too much of a threat, they are not overly friendly. As with most animals, they’ll try to keep their distance from you but if they are feeling threatened, they can charge. Many charges are bluffs, but you should still seek protection from boulders and trees.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to go hiking before, you’re probably not familiar with hiking etiquette. These guidelines help to keep hikers safe and ensure that the trails stay fun for everyone.
- Stay on the Trail and Leave No Trace – It can be extremely tempting to cut across switchbacks, especially when you’re descending after a long hike. But resist that urge! Cutting across trails can damage plant life and erode the trails, which may cause rocks to become loose. Make sure you pack out whatever you bring in, whether it’s a plastic bottle or an apple core. You should always try to leave the trail in better condition than you found it.
- Horses Have the Right of Way – When you’re on a shared trail, be prepared in case you come across horses and their riders as they take priority. If you’re being passed by a horse, move off the trail on the downhill side wherever possible and talk to the rider as they pass so as to not startle the horse.
- Yield to Uphill Travelers – As you’re coming down the trail, step aside and let those who are climbing pass you. Going uphill takes a lot more energy (especially at high altitudes) and it can be difficult to regain momentum if you’re forced to stop.
- Pass on the Left – Stay to the right of the trail and pass other hikers on the left.
- Smile and Be Social – On most, if not all, trails, you’ll find that everyone you come across is more than happy to greet you. Join in the pleasantries and help to create an inviting atmosphere for everyone.