Saturday, September 19, 2015

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

September 14-16, 2015:

It was a 130 mile ride today to Stagecoach State Park which is about 13 miles south of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  The ride was rough, twisty and bumpy for long stretches which made it a stressful drive.  Leaving Laramie you travel across a level basin area with small ranches and houses, many old run down buildings and trailers scattered around, not so attractive.  You then enter the Medicine Bow National Forest area that also is rough looking with large piles of dead trees and brush along the highway. I suspect it is a fire prevention thing to remove dead brush from the area adjacent to the highway.  Entering Colorado it became more twisty and hilly culminating in going over 9,426 foot Rabbit Ears Pass.  The going up was no big deal, the going down was very long and steep, a real brake burner !  

We found many open campsites at Stagecoach State Park which are nice roomy pull throughs with electric, fresh water spigots, a dump station and pay showers in the rest rooms.  It also has a 360 degree mountain views and overlooks the reservoir, boat dock and beach area.  Stagecoach State Park is named for the frontier stage coach route which followed present day route 14 to Steamboat Springs.  

A decent rainbow at the campground

Steamboat Springs is about 15 miles from the campsite.  I had been there once before 20 some years ago and I don’t remember it being half as large, upscale or developed.  It has now become a year round resort town which I suspect the average person can no longer afford to live in.  We saw the same thing in Telluride and it’s steadily and sadly (for me) happening to all the popular and beautiful places.  The new Steamboat ski mountain area is mega-Hotel and Condo to excess, but is separated from the old town.  The old town area as a result still retains some small town charm.

Horse sculpture

Down view

The Chief Theater

The Yampa River

The court house

The Space Station

The old town Pub, only real bar in town with music

We passed these signs for about a hundred miles, when
we went there it didn't live up to expectations

Steamboat Springs was first settled in 1874 by a James Crawford who came west with his family as a homesteader.  He staked his claim and built a cabin near Iron Spring and in time other homesteaders followed, he was very industrious, sold building lots, and the town grew  around him and prospered.  Cattle and Sheep were the leading industries in the early days and Steamboat Springs became a major cattle shipping terminus with the arrival of the railroad in 1909.  There was also considerable coal mining in the area.  The mineral Springs were the first tourist attraction and then came skiing.  Famed ski jumper, Carl Howelson came to Steamboat Springs in 1913 and started a Ski Hill which is still in use today.  In time Steamboat Springs Ski Area was developed into the world class ski area of today.  Steamboat Springs now holds the record of producing more Olympic athletes than any other town in North America. 

Carl Howelson brought skiing to Steamboat

The Howelson Hill Ski jump complex

Steamboat Springs was named for a geyser which expelled jets of water 5-14 feet into the air along with resonant chugging sounds that sounded like a steamboat.  It was a victim of progress when the geyser and chugging stopped after blasting in the area by railroad track laying crews in 1909, but still continues as an active hot spring.  There are over 100 hot springs in the Steamboat Springs area with several others in the area near the present library in the downtown area.  The Ute and Yampatika indian tribes summered in this area and used the springs as medicine for centuries and considered them sacred.

Black Geyser Spring

Steamboat Springs

I visited the local historical museum, Tread of Pioneers Museum, which gave the entire history along with a few notable outlaws. It is often difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys in the old west. There remains to this day much debate about the merits of Butch Cassidy and other outlaws such as Billy the Kid who many regard as folk heroes rather than criminals.

The famous lighted man suit that has become a
a winter carnival attraction

Wallace Jerold "Bud" Werner was a local hero and
olympic champion

I took a short hike to Fish Creek Falls about 3 miles from downtown which is a very scenic view.  Actually about everything here is scenic.  The best to me are the big valley views with the rolling green and gold hay fields and pastures, surrounded by the mountains with the changing colors of the trees.  When the blue sky and the clouds are right, it’s really special !

Fish Creek Falls

A very attractive _____ Jay

It caught my eye along the trail

The town of Oak Creek is about 10 miles from the campground.  It is a real coal mining town, was prosperous in its day, but now looking like it has fallen on tough times.

A huge shovel

Downtown view of Oak Creek

It has been sunny to cloudy to rainy, changing about every half hour, the whole time here at Steamboat.  This definitely put a damper on the stay here.

We are now moving south faster than I would prefer, but it is necessary to stay ahead of the cold and snow. We want to be through the high area of Colorado by the end of September.  

Next stop is to 10,450 foot elevation Leadville, Colorado,
Twinkles and Slick

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