Steamboat Springs!

It’s been almost 4-years since we’ve been to Steamboat Springs! We thought it was well-past time to return! Originally, we were going to spend the night at our favorite hotel and then use Steamboat Springs as a spring-board for a longer trip out west to go camping for Labor Day weekend. The more we researched, however, the more we realized we weren’t alone in our planning.

Rather than give up on the idea of escaping if only for a short break, we kept the reservations at our favorite hotel in Steamboat and will go camping out west during a Fall Break that not everyone has. 😉

Yet again, Steamboat did not disappoint.

We broke the shorty out early and headed for the hills! (Okay, truth be told, I filled out all the requisite Excused Absence Forms for early dismissal, and she’s getting tall! …and they were mountains, not hills!)

We drove through some rain, but not enough to damper our excitement.

At one point in the drive, we were right at cloud level!

At one point in the drive, we were right at cloud level!

At another point, the highway completely disappeared and we were driving on what can only be described as a good ol’ mud road. The construction sign earlier said, “Rough Road,” and we’re thinking the usage of the word “Road” was rather liberal. THIS sign along that 6-mile stretch made us laugh out loud!

Lanes? There are lanes?

Uneven Lanes? Really? Also, there are lanes?

You should see Sue. We didn’t get any mud on the windows, but that’s about it.

Muddy Sue

Muddy Sue

We checked into the Rabbit Ears Motel, our favorite place to stay in Steamboat. (Pro-tip: They have river view rooms with a balcony AND discount tickets to the hot springs literally across the street! Listening to the river as we fell asleep was just an added bonus!) We went to our favorite restaurant, Mahogany’s, and it was still as fantastic as we remember. After dinner, we went back to the hot springs and soaked and played for over two hours before going to bed. What a fantastic night!

Rabbit Ears Motel Labor Day 2015

The next day, hiking was on the agenda before we pointed our muddy car in the direction of home.

We opted to do Fish Creek Falls. The first part of the hike was listed as “easy,” because it was a trail that was only 1/4 of a mile and very accessible down to a gorgeous waterfall. You could cross the bridge and do a “moderate” trail on to the next waterfall up, with an even more strenuous part you could do after that up to the lake, if you chose.

First Bridge

First Bridge

Fish Creek Falls from the First Bridge

Fish Creek Falls from the First Bridge

We compromised and did the moderate trail to the second bridge. Poor Daddy insisted that the “moderate” trail we had just done was “easy,” and he wanted to go even farther to the lake, but after weighing the importance of hiking in peace while NOT carrying a body (or two), he opted to be happy with the second bridge and cute little waterfall & stream to explore.

Roots

Roots. You gotta give your kid roots & wings.

Still, that part of the hike was not for the faint of heart. Claire and I managed with no problems, but it was a challenge. (That part of the hike was 2.5 miles in one way, with a 2000 ft elevation gain. As always, “down” was my favorite part.) Ha.

The "easy" trail.

The “easy” trail.

We took some fun pictures along the way and had a great time. We’d opted to do this in the morning before lunch, because lunch at the bottom is a great reward, in and of itself, and the risk of storms is that much greater in the afternoon.

Claire and JoAnn Labor Day 2015

The Second Bridge

The Second Bridge

We hiked for about 3 hours, and as predicted, lunch tasted fantastic after we’d survived the adventure. 😀

Food always tastes better outside. True story.

After lunch, we headed home. We opted to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park on the way and exchange Claire’s paper pass for a plastic one. This year, 4th Graders and their families get a FREE National Park Pass. (We even used the paper version at Fish Creek Falls to pay the day-fee of $5. National Park Passes were accepted at this location and after a bit of educational convincing, the park ranger let us use it. It was the first pass, of what I’m sure are MANY, he’d ever seen, so he was skeptical but willing to play along.) We had no problems whatsoever at the gate at Rocky Mountain. They were ready for us and gave us all the info. (If you have a 4th Grader, don’t pass up this deal! It’s fantastic.)

Claire's FREE Park Pass is good for a whole year, thru August 2016!

Claire’s FREE Park Pass is good for a whole year, thru August 2016!

The weather was some of the best we've ever seen up there! See the elk? (Click photo to see more detail.)

The weather was some of the best we’ve ever seen up there! See the elk? (Click photo to see more detail.)

We even saw a bear as we got closer to town! I didn’t get a picture, because I was too busy yelling, “BEAR! Look, a BEAR!” to the other occupants in the car. This black bear was playing by the stream on the side of the road in one of the towns on the way home. I’m so glad we all got to see it!

After dinner at a local place we love, we headed home. It was a great adventure, and just right. This way, we got to escape for a bit and then still have what will seem like a full weekend at home.

Perfection!

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