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Brief Local History

Steamboat Springs was said to have been named by French fur trappers who, while traveling down the Yampa River, mistook the gurgle of the natural bubbling springs for the chug-chug of a steamboat. Ten years later in 1875 the first settler, James Harvey Crawford, staked his homestead claim.

Nestled in the northwest corner of Colorado in the Rocky Mountains, the Yampa Valley and lure of its beauty soon attracted many more settlers.  By the early 1900’s various local businesses had established successful commerce alongside the existing ranching community.  The robust western tradition has long distinguished Steamboat Springs from the other ski areas.  The local community gladly shares the riches of the Yampa Valley with all of its visitors.

As the first settlers learned to persist during the long winters, they soon grew to be proficient skiers and snow shoers.  A Norwegian named Carl Howelsen was the first to introduce ski jumping to the locals in 1912.

The first Winter Carnival, including the first jumping competitions, was then organized in 1913.  The popularity of ski jumping inspired locals to transform the landscape into a recreational hot spot for winter sports.  In 1917 Carl Howelsen was honored by Steamboat Springs when they dedicated that very ski slope as Howelsen Hill.

In 1938 Rabbit Ears Pass was opened by the Forest Service.  Traffic increased into the town of Steamboat Springs. Eventually, in 1955, Jim Temple and John R. Fetcher worked together to develop the Steamboat Ski Area by building the first Poma lift.

The Steamboat Ski Area and winter sports in general, became increasing more popular.  This helped Steamboat to acquire much need permits from the Forest Service and to make the ski area expansion possible. 

The nature and abundance of the ultra-light, dry snow would allure skiers from all over. Eventually the snow in Steamboat Springs became known as Champagne Powder® snow and continues to be an enticing attribute of these Rocky Mountains slopes.

Today Steamboat Ski Resort is one of the premier resorts in Colorado and in North America.  Because of its rich history in winter sports traditions, the dedication of decades of athletes and the support of the local community, Steamboat Springs has produced more winter Olympians than any other town in North American and enjoys the title of Ski Town USA®

Although closely related to skiing and winter sports, Steamboat is also a perfect summer getaway.  With golfing, biking, fishing and hiking all regular activities during the summer months it is no surprise that Steamboat averages 300 days of sunshine a year.  The population has grown to approximately 12,000 and more than doubles during the busy winter months.