Steamboat Springs, surrounded by national forests and wilderness areas, is a high-elevation city located in Colorado’s Yampa Valley in the northwest section of the state. The city is situated along the western ridge of the Continental Divide and provides year-round recreational activities for visitors and locals. Steamboat Lake State Park, located at the base of Hahn's Peak, is just 27 miles north of Steamboat Springs, and it is one of the Colorado State Parks that brings visitors for recreational activities year-round.
Steamboat Lake State Park is a highly desirable location for RVers and recreation enthusiasts during all four seasons. The park, located at 8,100 feet elevation, is home to many different animal and plant species, and its lakefront and mountain views are like those from a postcard. The 1,055-acre lake is teeming with fish. Anglers can fish from the banks or a boat in the deeper sections of the water. Guests will also enjoy some lake-front fun on the beach. Spend time with the family making sandcastles and playing frisbee or volleyball, all fun activities guaranteed to work up a sweat before taking a dip in the cool, clear water.
RV camping is excellent at Steamboat Lake State Park, offering both electric and basic sites. Some of the spaces are near the lake close to water hydrants and modern toilets while other areas are more secluded with access to vault toilets. Wintertime is fun here, too, as you can do some ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing. No matter what you are into, you can find it here.
Steamboat Lake State Park isn't far from many of the larger cities in the area. It is three hours from Denver to the southeast, four hours from Fort Collins to the east, 3.5 hours from Cheyenne to the northeast, or four hours from Grand Junction to the southwest. From the smaller towns nearby, the park is only about 10 miles from Clark and 26 miles from Steamboat Springs. To get to the park the south and east, drivers will take Interstate 70 west to Highway 40, and to access the park from either the north or west, drivers will take Interstate 80 to Highway 30.
Visitors will enjoy Colorado’s iconic mountainous terrain driving to and from the state park. RVers, driving from almost any direction, can guarantee that they will drive through one or more mountain passes along the way to Steamboat Lake State Park. Some passes have steep grades and switchbacks and winter driving restrictions. Almost every pass has spectacular views at the summit, so plan to stop and get a picture with miles of Colorado mountaintops in the distance.
Inside the park, you will find well-kept roads. Some of the park roads are gravel or dirt, and many of the streets are narrow with low-hanging branches. You will have to take it easy and slow, especially during the rainy season when you may encounter muddy roads. It is best to park the rig and walk or ride a bike where you want to go when you can.
The Sunrise Vista Campground is a seasonally operated campground that has six loops offering different amenities. Larkspur, Lupine, and Yarrow loops have 20/30/50-amp electric sites, while Arnica, Harebell, and Rosecrown are non-electric campsites. Sunrise Vista Campground has a 14 x 14 tent pad at every site along with picnic tables and fire rings, and potable water hydrants are scattered throughout the campground. The dump station and the camper services building with coin-operated showers and laundry is not far from the Sunrise Vista Campground.
Many of the sites in Sunrise Vista are located just a few feet from the swimming beach so this is convenient, but it can also be noisy during the busy season. Campers wishing to have a fire should purchase wood at the marina store. Pets are allowed as long as you keep them restrained and supervised while you are there. Quiet hours are from 10 PM until 6 AM, and all generators and other noise-making equipment should remain off during these hours.
Please note that a valid vehicle pass is required to enter all Colorado State Parks. The daily fee is an additional cost not included with camping reservations. Guests can purchase a daily or yearly pass at the entrance station. When reserving your camping site, please adhere to RV length recommendations for campsites as trees and turning radius can make navigation difficult within the campground. Back in and pull through sites range from 25 to 45 feet in length.
The Dutch Hill Campground is a smaller campground that has two sections offering different amenities. The Bridge Island section is the primitive-style section of the campground and doesn't have any utility services at any of the 15 spaces. This section also offers 20 walk-in sites if you want an even more rustic and secluded location to camp. The Bridge Island section is on an island to the west of the docks, and all of the sites in this section are close to the water. There are vault toilets and several hydrants for drinking water.
The Wheeler section of the campground has two loops with 40 sites of varied sizes in a more modern section of the campground, offering 20/30/50-amp electrical outlets at each space. The Dutch Hill Campground has a 14 x 14 tent pad at every site along with a picnic table and fire ring. There are also several water hydrants scattered throughout the campground. Close to the Dutch Hill Campground is a marina, the swim beach, a camper services building with coin-operated showers and laundry, and a dump station.
If you want to build a fire, you need to get your wood from the store as you are not allowed to bring wood in from outside. No generators or other loud noises permitted after 10 PM and a valid vehicle pass is needed for all vehicles on the property. You can get a daily or annual pass at the entrance or camp store. Make sure you reserve your site in advance and get a spot big enough for your RV or trailer as they range from 20 to 45 feet. Pets are welcome, but you must supervise them and keep them properly restrained at all times.
If you want to camp at Steamboat Lake State Park during the winter in self-contained units can stay on a first-come, first-served basis in the electrical-only spaces in the marina parking lot. There are 14 spaces open to campers. Basic non-electric camping is also available. Contact the park for more information. Please note that camping permits and valid vehicle passes are required for all campers in the winter.
In addition, you can reserve a camper cabin or yurt through the Steamboat Lake Marina or online. However, the yurts are only accessible by snowmobile, skis, or snowshoes. Just as during the rest of the year, pets are welcome, but you have to keep them restrained and supervised at all times during your visit.
Winter sports here are plentiful as well so make sure you pack your skis, snowshoes, and warm clothing so you can do some horseback riding or snowmobiling. This lake is top-rated for ice fishing so bring your fishing gear as well and make sure to check with the park employees or rangers about the safety of the ice before heading out there.
Hiking is something that the whole family can enjoy. The park has three trails that allow well-behaved and leashed dogs. Take a self-guided walk through the 1.1-mile loop, the Tombstone Nature Trail, and learn about the history and natural facts of the area on your hike. If you prefer a lakeside hike, take the four-mile Willow Creek Trail, or walk along the one-mile Poverty Bar Trail to learn about the history of mining in the area. You can also take a hike along county roads 62 or 129 or the campground roads for a nice view of the park.
Novice and experienced photographers flock to Steamboat State Park to capture iconic Colorado images year-round. Beautiful spring and summer images can often capture Colorado skies paired with wildlife, wildflowers, and green grasses that are juxtaposed with the mountainous terrain. The often-foggy mornings in the winter or the brilliant Aspen trees in the fall combined with spectacular sunsets year-round make the Yampa Valley one of the most scenic areas for photography in the entire state of Colorado. Bring your camera and create long-lasting memories that will be sure to bring you back to Steamboat Lake State Park again.
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is an increasingly popular sport in Colorado. Steamboat Lake is a picturesque location where beginners to experienced stand-up paddleboarders can spend the day and explore over 1,000 acres of water. Visitors can bring their own gear in the RV or rent paddleboards and personal flotation devices (PFD) on-site at the marina. Anyone aged 13 or under has to wear a PFD at all times. Rentals are subject to availability and current weather conditions. Contact the marina for up to date information.
Make sure you pack your swimsuit and beach toys in the RV because the beach is the perfect place to spend a warm summer day at Steamboat Lake State Park. Right next to the Willow Creek Trail by Sunrise Vista Campground, the large beach is open to the public. The water is crystal clear, and the sandy beach is easy on the feet. Pack a lunch and have a picnic at one of the picnic tables or grab some SAND-wiches on the beach.
During the winter months, experienced ice fishers can fish in Steamboat Lake. Bring your own fishing equipment or rent your gear in Steamboat Springs and spend the day on the ice-covered lake. Always inquire about ice and weather conditions before ice fishing and exercise winter safety precautions at all times. People wishing to fish in Steamboat Lake will need a valid fishing license. Licenses can be purchased at the Steamboat Lake State Park Visitor’s Center.
Snowmobiling is a favorite winter pastime in the Steamboat Lake area. Bring your own snowmobiles or rent your gear from one of the many recreational rental shops in Steamboat Springs and point your motorhome and trailer toward Steamboat Lake State Park to prepare for a day on the trails. Although most of Steamboat Lake State Park’s trails are designated for non-motorized travel, the park does allow for motorized travel on some of the trails. Begin your adventure inside the park and then head past the park’s boundaries into Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest where there are more than 145 miles of groomed trails perfect for snowmobiling.
If you are looking for a more simplified activity that doesn't require a lot of equipment, bring your snowshoeing gear to Steamboat Lake State Park. A designated snowshoeing trail begins at the visitor’s center and takes snowshoers through a forest of lodgepole pine. This well-marked trail offers visitors breathtaking scenery to go along with a favorite Colorado wintertime adventure. If you don’t own your own snowshoeing gear, visit any of the rental facilities in Steamboat Springs and outfit yourself for a day of fun.
Winter in Colorado means skiing so don’t forget to pack your skis in the rig before heading to the park. There are several trails where you can do some cross-country skiing around the lake. The easy 1.6-mile Sunrise Vista Loop and half-mile Dutch Hill Trail are both on the north end of the lake starting at the trailhead by the marina. The 0.7-mile Cross Cut Trail is a bit more of a challenge and has two hills to enjoy. Homestead Meadow is a half-mile trail with a small hill for beginners. These skiing areas are both on the northeast end of the lake by the visitor center.