From the locals: Tips for skiing Steamboat Resort

Jan. 3, 2024
This photo shows two skiers skiing through deep powder with blue skies and snow-covered trees in the background.
Bluebird skis, snow-covered trees and fresh powder make for a great day at Steamboat Resort. Photo by Sam Reznicek.

You’re going skiing at Steamboat Resort – are you stoked?

Steamboat Resort offers terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels. If it’s your first time on the mountain, Steamboat has you covered. While the resort is known for its family-friendly environment, Steamboat also offers incredible tree skiing and for those seeking a challenge, there’s even expert-level terrain in Mahogany Ridge.

Regardless of what you strap to your feet, here are a few tips from locals that will set you up for a great time when skiing at Steamboat Resort.

Gear up

Proper equipment is a must for a fun and enjoyable day on the slopes. There are a variety of ski and snowboard rental stores on the mountain and in downtown Steamboat to set you up with rental equipment for your trip.

A properly fitting helmet is strongly recommended, as are goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes. Be careful not to leave a gap between your helmet and goggles; on a sunny day, that’s a likely spot for a sunburn.

This leads to sunscreen – it can be one of the most important pieces of gear. Put it on early, and reapply often. The snow reflects sun rays towards your face, intensifying the impact on your skin. A broad-spectrum sunscreen is a good choice. Toss a small tube in your pocket for reapplication, or reapply at one of the on-mountain comfort stations.

Layers are key, as temperatures can fluctuate between lower, mid and upper mountains, plus depending on the time of day, sunshine and shade can affect temperatures by a few degrees. Choose synthetic, wicking fabrics over cotton, and make sure your outer layers are water-resistant or waterproof.

Get me up there – gondola vs. chair lift

Gondola, chair lifts, surface carpets – Steamboat has them all. While the magic carpets are reserved for those in ski and snowboard lessons, any ticket holder is welcome to ride the Wild Blue Gondola, the Steamboat Gondola and the chair lifts.

The new Wild Blue Gondola at Steamboat Resort. Photo courtesy of Steamboat Ski Resort.
The new Wild Blue Gondola at Steamboat Resort. Photo courtesy of Steamboat Ski Resort.

Types of snow at Steamboat Resort

In this photo, a skier skis under a lift in chest-deep snow.
Stealing face shots under Bar UE lift. Photo by Sam Reznicek.

Steamboat Resort is known for its Champagne Powder ®, some of the lightest, fluffiest snow you’ll ever experience. You may hear a few other terms for snow: corduroy (perfectly groomed overnight by a fleet of snowcats), dust on crust (a thin layer of freshly fallen snow on top of corduroy), concrete (deep, heavy snow), freshies (untracked powder) – the list goes on.

Skiers go downhill, right?

In this photo, a skier "skins" up the mountain on specialized equipment.
“Skinning” up the mountain is a solid workout. Photo courtesy of Kevin Fonger.

Actually, they can do both. It’s not uncommon to see a number of skiers and snowboarders with split boards “skinning” or “ski touring” up the mountain, particularly on Heavenly Daze under the gondola.

Specialized bindings and adhesive skins placed on the bottom of skis make it possible for skiers to make their way uphill. It’s an incredible cardiovascular workout and a great training option for the winter, but proper training, hydration and appropriate layers are keys to success.

Rules and guidelines have been established to keep all skiers safe, regardless of the direction you choose to ski.

Say hello to Buddy

This photo shows the bust of Buddy Werner, located at the top of Mt. Werner at Steamboat Resort.
Photo by Sam Reznicek.

When you get off either Storm Peak or Bar-UE lifts, head skier’s left towards a bronze bust of Buddy Werner. Buddy was a native of Steamboat and one of its many Olympic skiers. He was killed in an avalanche in Switzerland in 1964 and shortly after that, Storm Mountain was renamed Mt. Werner. As you ski by, give him a tap with your pole for good luck on the way down.

Yard sale

This photo shows a person who has fallen down on on a ski slope
Photo by Getty Images.

If you happen to take a tumble and lose a pole here and a ski there, you’ve had a “yard sale,” meaning you’ve spread out your belongings for all to see. First, make sure you’re all right. Second, gather your things and depending on where you landed, move to the side of the run to reassemble and adjust your gear. If it’s a good yard sale, don’t be surprised to hear a few cheers if there’s a chairlift overhead.

There’s an app for that 

When you download the Steamboat app on your mobile device, you’ll have weather and snow reports, lift and trail statuses, webcams and more at your fingertips. Find the latest resort dining options and event calendars. You can even turn on the GPS tracking feature to see how many vertical feet and distances you cover on the mountain. It also has the capability to contact ski patrol should you need assistance.

‘X’ marks the spot

This photo shows skis stuck in the ground in the shape of an X.
Photo by Sam Reznicek.

Skis stuck in the ground in the shape of an “x” signal to other skiers and riders that someone needs assistance. It also provides a quick reference point to help guide ski patrollers to the injured person. If you come across this type of scenario, it’s best to give them some space.

Need help?

Should you become injured while at Steamboat Resort, look for a member of Ski Patrol – they’re easily identifiable by their red coats with white crosses on them. You can also reach out to Steamboat Ambassadors (in the yellow coats) to connect with Ski Patrol. Another option is to send someone to the nearest lift tower (above or below you) for a call to be placed to Ski Patrol. Patrollers will assess your condition and transfer you down the mountain if necessary.

Powder, a Saint Bernard and Steamboat Resort’s safety dog. She and her ski patrol partner, Duncan Draper, share messages, safety messages and tips with skiers and riders. Photo courtesy of Steamboat Ski Resort/Larry Pierce.
Powder, a Saint Bernard and Steamboat Resort’s safety dog. She and her ski patrol partner, Duncan Draper, share messages, safety messages and tips with skiers and riders. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Reznicek.

Should you need additional care or treatment, UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and UCHealth Urgent Care – Steamboat Springs are just minutes from the base of the mountain.

When the snow is piling up, you might hear the saying, “There are no friends (or spouses or children) on a powder day.” It’s all in good fun. With 3,741 acres to explore, there’s plenty of snow and terrain to go around for everyone.

(Just don’t ask locals for their secret powder stash.)

About the author

Lindsey Reznicek is a communications specialist at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She has spent the last ten years working in marketing and communications in health care, an industry she never considered but one to which she's contributed through her work in media relations, executive messaging and internal communications. She considers it an honor to interact with patients and write about their experiences; it’s what keeps her coming back to work each day.

A native of Nebraska, Lindsey received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, with a focus on public relations, from the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State University – she bleeds purple.

She could see a Broadway musical every week, is a huge animal lover, enjoys a good shopping trip, and likes spending time in the kitchen. Lindsey and her husband have two daughters and enjoy hiking in the summer and skiing all winter long.