It is May 21st and it’s a powder day in the ‘boat! Yeah, I agree, I just can’t get that excited about it either. That infamous saying we all love to hear so much during ski season simply doesn’t have the same impact towards the end of May. The ski mountain is closed, the bike trails are too snowy to ride on, but hey, the water table is happy and ultimately this moisture will keep our valley green and the Yampa River flowing well into June.

Located at the top of Sunshine Peak at 10,384′
The Campbell’s Powder Cam this snowy Tuesday morning.

Having looked at the forecast, I knew there was a good chance of snow, but little did I imagine that I’d be getting first tracks this morning while walking our dogs… a different kind of first tracks that is. At our house, we’ve received about six inches of snow so far from this storm while the top of the mountain has received nearly 20 inches thus far, and it’s still snowing!

A different kind of “first tracks” this morning while walking our dogs.

All of the trees that are starting to bloom and show their leaves have temporarily turned into willow trees with the weight of this very heavy and wet snow. The spring flowers I’ve been admiring daily were no where to be found this morning as they were completely buried beneath the snow. The forecast is showing continuing rain and snow through Friday, which, in the end, is really great for our water table. When it comes to late season snowfall, it’s all about finding the silver linings.

The trees are temporarily turning into willow trees with all of this heavy, wet snow.

Typically, Steamboat will receive its last snowfall in May, so this isn’t entirely uncommon, it’s just a much larger amount than we usually see falling in May. About every four years or so, the last snow for the season will fall in April, but that is certainly not the case this year. Steamboat usually never sees any snow at all during the months of July and August, except for the snow that sometimes remains on the very top of Mount Werner until July 4th; that’s when you know for sure that it was a phenomenal snow year.

Our family went camping and biking in Fruita this past weekend, so we’re definitely ready for the warmer and drier weather to move into our valley as well.

This May has certainly been an unpredictable month in terms of weather. It began with rain and snow, but then gave way to some gorgeous spring weather as the valley turned into a deep and sparkling hue of emerald. Just as the flowers began to color the town and the springtime bike rides became more regular, the snow returned to the Yampa Valley. This unpredictability is what defines mud season in Steamboat, and in the end, makes each and every day unique in its own way.

Springtime bike rides along the Yampa River can be awesome in the month of May!

All of this May snow is making things a bit more difficult for the ongoing gondola construction, but as usual, the Steamboat crews are continuing to work hard day in and day out. Last week, the focus was on the continued removal of lower mountain towers and beginning work on the upper mountain tower foundations. This week, crews will start remodeling the upper mountain terminal, and next week, things will get especially exciting as the helicopter removal of upper mountain towers begins.

Photo Credit: Larry Pierce

As the gondola construction continues, on-mountain activity of any sort is strongly discouraged until Steamboat Resort officially opens for the summer this weekend. Starting Memorial Day weekend, on-mountain activities will include scenic chairlift rides on Christie Peak Express, the Outlaw Mountain Coaster, Maverick Mini Golf, Kilimanjaro Climbing Wall and the Stagecoach Bounce House.

Once the snow melts, our valley will return to this magical hue of green, which makes morning dog walks especially great.

As the snow continues, just remember how great it is for the water table, how it will keep our cherished Yampa Valley green, how it will keep the wildfire season to a more moderate level and how it will keep the Yampa River flowing throughout June (and into July). You may not enjoy it today, but in the long run, it will benefit us all in very significant ways.

Happy May snow and Happy Tuesday!

Erin Campbell, Alpine Skier, Snowboarder & Mountain Biker

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