Winter in Steamboat Springs

Baby, it’s COLD outside (and here’s what to do about it in Steamboat Springs)

Ok, we’re not going to beat around the berm here, we prefer to tell it like it is.  January can be a bit cold here in the Boat.  When the mercury is hovering in the single digits, it can give new meaning to the idea of a chill vacation…  But have no fear, we’ve got tips to keep you toasty when the temps aren’t too tempting.

Get Your Facts Straight First

First off, if you’re deciding whether or not to ski or determining how many layers of long underwear can fit under your ski pants, don’t just rely on the internet for the weather report.  Call the actual Steamboat Ski Area snow report for conditions ON the mountain.  970-879-7300.  The recording is updated several times a day.  It gives you the total snowfall for the last 24 hours, new snow totals since the mountain closed the day before, and the on mountain temperature.  This is important because the temperature on the mountain can differ from the temperature in town (and no, it’s not a marketing ploy).

Steamboat often experiences an altitude temperature inversion.

This usually means that the temperature on top of the ski mountain (higher altitude) is actually warmer than the thermometer read outs in town.  So frigid temps outside your luxury Simply Steamboat condominium front door don’t necessarily mean that it’s frost bite conditions on the top of Mt. Werner.  Call the snow report (see above), be informed, then make your game plan.

FYI: Sunny days don’t necessarily mean it’s warmer outside.

Actually when there’s cloud coverage and snow fall, it’s often a lot warmer than the gorgeous bluebird counterpart.  The clouds insulate the valley, so don’t let a white sky deter you.  And if it is a bit frigid out, with a cobalt blue backdrop, be on the look out for the spectacularly sparkly hoar frost.  These ice crystals hug tree limbs and make amazing snow inspired photographs.

Take Your Time…

If it’s single digits (or, gasp, negative double digits) first thing in the morning, perhaps lingering over your pancakes a little longer is the right course of action.  My car thermometer read 1 degree at 8am yesterday and was up to 15 degrees by about 10:30am.  This makes a HUGE difference in your comfort level.  Mid morning or half day ski days are always an option – especially when an egg BLT is calling your name.  One of our favorite spots to go to for a pre-ski breaky?  Try the Paramount Cafe – it’s ski-in/ski-out locale makes it a perfect spot to assess the level of frost on the gondola windows.  Plus, their food is nothing short of AHmazing.  Even the New York Times loved it!

Dress The Part

If you’re braving the brrrs and skiing no matter what, then just be sure to dress the part.  A skull cap under your helmet or a liner that goes over your head and ears are a must for hot heads.   Wear mittens rather than gloves so that your fingers can keep each other warm.  Snuggle into a fleece or wool neck gator.  Buy some hand warmers (inexpensive and sold at pretty much every ski shop in town).  And crank up your boot heaters.  Wear your heaviest weight long johns and your thickest Smartwool or Point 6 socks (created in Steamboat, of course!). And please, please, please wear goggles rather than sunglasses.

Which brings us back to helmets. You may think you look like dork in a helmet and goggles, but believe us when we say that it’s the skiers and riders sans-helmet that don’t look the part on Steamboat’s slopes. You may feel awkward at first, but you’ll quickly realize that not only do you ski more confidently knowing that you are protected, you’ll also discover that you never have to wrestle with your hat and goggle/sunglasses fit again. And if you do catch an edge, and end up having a yard sale on the run with skis, poles etc strewn everywhere – the etc won’t include your wet sunglasses and soggy hat.

Protect Your Rosy Cheeks

Now, it may be a no-brainer to layer up your clothing to reach optimum temperature, but what about your exposed skin on your face? We already recommended neck gators, or perhaps even face masks, for uber cold days but your pink cheeks may inevitably face the elements during the day. Wet skin is more prone to frost nip, so keep it dry when the flakes are falling. At the very least, you must wear sunscreen. You may also notice local hard-core powerhounds with a sheen on their cheeks. On days when the temps drop below 10, 5 or zero F., some will protect their dewy skin with Eucerin Aquaphor, Dermatone, or even Vaseline.

Most importantly, be on the lookout on your friends faces for spots start to turn white, especially the tip of your nose. You won’t necessarily be able to feel the difference between having a cold face and getting a little frost-nip. So be a good ski buddy and keep an eye on your friends. If you see some white spots (and we’re not talking clusters of phat fluffy snow flakes!), head inside to warm up. If you are concerned, certainly head to the Ski Patrol offices for more advice.

Lastly, it should go without saying, take frequent hot chocolate breaks.  (We love the sumptuous hot cocoa at the base area restaurant, Truffle Pig!).

Don’t Be A Hero(ine)!

If you decide to cut the ski day short or skip it all together, there’s still fun to be had that doesn’t require thermal fabric.  Book a decadent spa day.  Treat yourself to a pedicure. Paint a masterpiece at Splatz Painting.  Stroll the shops downtown They’re close together, so you’re never out in the cold too long and many of them have hot cider brewing to warm you up!  Peruse the art galleries, or head to the cinema.

And if you’d rather not wait for your rental car to warm up while venturing out on the town, book one of our many Simply Steamboat properties with on-call shuttle service.  They’re nice and warm on the inside and, with door to door drop off, you don’t have to hike (in the cold) to far off parking spaces.

When booking your vacation, consider choosing a unit with it’s very own private hot tub so the distance from the blissful bath to the plush carpet or heated floors is as short as possible.  After you’ve thawed out in the hot water, snuggle up in our cozy, warm bathrobes and settle into our comfy couches.  Then do what the old country song says and “throw another log on the fire”- or better yet – just flick the switch to the gas fireplace and warm your way (even faster) to Simply Steamboat relaxation heaven.