Steamboat Springs Holiday Guide
by: Justin Reiter
The holidays are a time for gratitude and thankfulness for all that we are fortunate to have and experience. Ironically there is an inverse relationship between expectation and gratitude. It is important to try and manage your holiday expectations and remember the important stuff. This holiday guide offers simple Steamboat adventures and ideas to truly enjoy the holidays and allows presence to be the greatest present of all. Hopefully this guide will help spark an idea and truly give you access to the nature of the holiday season whether you live in Steamboat or are visiting.
Gratitude and expectation work against each other both in time frame reference and our body’s neurologic system. Expectations are forward thinking, anchoring themselves in an IF/THEN mindset. IF I make the perfect Christmas dinner THEN we will have a perfect Christmas. This style of thinking hijacks our neurologic system and makes the dopamine that fuels our motivation and happiness dependent upon the accomplishment/result of said perfect dinner. If at any point our mind detects that we have strayed from perfection we are often unable to self correct and be resilient to the change. We spiral into a sadder and more expectant state. On the opposite side of things, gratitude is anchored in the present and the idea that what we have, at this moment, is exactly what we need and therefore is easily appreciated and embraced. When one’s thoughts constantly echo with an “isn’t this wonderful” mentality the neurological system enforces that with a dopamine release creating more motivation, happiness, and process dependent mindset. With that in mind here are some wonderful ideas to cherish your holiday here in Steamboat Springs.
Go get yourself a Christmas tree:
Steamboat offers a most excellent micro adventure to track down your very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. This is a great way to kick off the holiday season with gratitude for what nature provides and how nice it is to spend time and work alongside your loved ones. Routt County Colorado provides the opportunity to cut down your own Christmas tree after purchasing a permit and heading to one of numerous designated areas. The details about the permit and locations are found at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mbr/passes-permits/forestproducts/?cid=fswdev3_008630 After looking over the regulations, organize your tree adventure crew and supplies (shovel, saw, tape measure, sled, water, straps, and warm clothes). Head into the woods, I suggest the West Summit of Rabbit Ears Pass. Work up a sweat in your Point6 hoodie, get out there and explore. Find trees that are grouped together to select a tree from. Make sure to cut it as close to the ground as possible. Remember it’s gotta fit not only on your car but also in your house. Once it’s home, turn on your favorite jams, throw on your Point 6 Livin It Merino Joggers as it is time to decorate and rock around the Christmas tree.
Go explore under the stars:
The days are short during the final months of the year, it can be hard to make time during the daylight hours to get everything done. Worry not, headlamps, warm gear, and hot drinks are here so that you can maximize your time despite the absence of sun. Here are 3 options for evening to late night experiences. Head up to the West Summit of Rabbit Ears Pass There you will find a network of winter trails that cater to Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing. Bring a headlight and some warm drinks in a thermos. Explore the 3.7 mile loop that is Trail 1A which offers a beautiful moonlit view of the valley below and the Flat Tops Wilderness to the south. Temperature control is key during night adventures so remember to always bring extra warm/dry layers. Being present among the stars or falling snowflakes with the dampened sound echoing off the standing pines in complete darkness is truly magical. The isolation and cold draws people closer to nature, closer to those around them, and closer to the moment. For that extra jolt of life and gratitude, try changing out your sweat soaked top base layer when you arrive at the stopping point or ascent of your ski/snowshoe. Stripping down to bare skin in sub zero temperature makes you feel alive. Putting on a fresh Point 6 base layer warmth washes over you like when your mom used to tuck you in.
Go fast, go sled:
Another fantastic moonlit escapade exists on Emerald Mountain. Grab a sled, some warm clothes and your walking boots for a stroll up to the quarry via Blackmere trail. This easy, groomed, two-mile stroll is a local favorite. However most folks enjoy it by the light of day. My favorite is hiking up at sunset enjoying the views of Sleeping Giant backlit by the western setting sun until darkness envelops you and the Giant as you ascend higher and higher. Dragging behind you are the ingredients for a dang good time, sleds. Walk to the top, revel in the view of town all lit up and get ready to race back down. The route down is the same you took up. Parts are slow and parts are fast, you can race your friends or travel down in a chain. Any which way you’re going to have a great time as you fly down the mountain. It’s alway wise to bring some clear goggles or glasses as well as a warm dry top, I suggest the Point 6 Men’s Livin in Merino Hoodie.
Fatigued from your ski and or hike and sled chances are you’ll find yourself famished and ready to eat. My downtown favorites are: for a quick tasty beverage or beer hit up the Barley for a Mythology Bourbon Drink or enjoy one of the many local brews they have on tap. Looking to grab a delicious bite and are willing to spoil yourself try Besame or Laundry. Aurum has a fantastic happy hour burger that is not to be missed. On top of the adventures I outlined earlier Steamboat has countless more opportunities to enjoy during the holidays here are the more well known activities Steamboat is famous for. Skiing on Steamboat Resort, hit up some fresh groomers and night skiing followed by some of the best Apreś around at the T-Bar. Soak the bones in the magic Strawberry Park Hot Springs.. Take a stroll downtown visiting the many local shops and art galleries. A few of my favorites include: Off the Beaten Path bookstore, Lake and Company, Urbane, Ohana, and the always fun F.M. Light and Sons.
Whether you are visiting or living in Steamboat, whether you are spending time with friends or family, whether you are working or spending time off remember that the more you take time to be thankful for each day no matter what it holds and consciously make the effort to release expectations the time will expand into a far more enjoyable experience. There’s a reason each Holiday movie starts with the protagonist talking about their expectations and always ends with them realizing none of it matters and the most important pieces they had all along. This is your chance to skip the comical drama and revel in the gratitude by releasing expectations.
Gift Giving Guide:
This holiday season, I'm choosing to focus more on the presence of my loved ones and less on the hustle and bustle of buying too many presents. Here is a helpful rule for gift giving.
- The “1 Want" gift. Example: Something that you truly want.
- The "Need" gift: Example: You need a new pair of socks because your old pair has a hole.
- The "Wear" gift: Example: You outgrew your jacket and you could use a new Big Agnes winter jacket .
- The "Read" gift. Example: checkout the local bookstore, local artist expand your mind.
- The "Experience" gift. Example: day at the hot spring, or day skiing or something you can feel.
Whatever your gift giving style, I hope you make some great memories.
If you enjoyed your hike on Rabbit Ears pass you can support Routt County Riders by donating and encouraging trail building and maintenance.
If you enjoyed sliding down the backside of Emerald Mountain consider donating to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
If you enjoyed any of the local cuisine consider donating to the local food bank.
Lastly if you enjoyed the local art scene, I highly suggest supporting a local artist. Two of my favorites are:
Noah Wetzel: https://www.noahdavidwetzel.com/