The weather this week has been nothing short of perfect. Sunny, blue skies, and just the right temperature. After a somewhat low-key weekend, I was itching for a mid-week adventure. On a whim, I hopped in the car with my friend and her mom, and drove the quick 30 minute route along Highway 40 to the top of Rabbit Ears Pass. Turning off the highway at Dumont Lake, we continued past the campground and bumped along a rough 4×4 road until we reached the Rabbit Ears Peak trail head.

Rabbit Ears Peak

Rabbit Ears Peak is one of my favorite places to go when I need a quick outdoor escape, and is probably one of the most iconic landmarks in the Yampa Valley. The peak got its name from the prominent pyroclastic rock features protruding from the top, just like a pair of rabbit ears.

One of the pyroclastic rock formations that make up the “ears” on Rabbit Ears Peak

The hike is a quick six-mile out-and-back route along a rugged Forest Service road. Despite an approximately 1,000 foot gain in elevation, the majority of the hike is relatively tame, with only a handful of steep sections as you near the top. I always try to do this hike earlier in the morning, or late in the afternoon, as there are several long sections without shade that can get a little toasty under the midday sun.

Elephants head near the beginning of the Rabbit Ears Peak trail

Wildflowers Galore

As we start our upward journey, the trail opens into a meadow, and we are immediately greeted with a breathtaking vista. An endless sea of wildflowers, vivid waves of color in all directions. Indian paintbrushes, columbines and lupine, as far as the eye can see. We slowly work our way along the road, through open meadows, aspen groves, and patches of dense pine. After a little over two miles, the road pitches upward and we scramble the last half mile to the summit.

Beautiful wildflowers along the Rabbit Ears Peak trail

Summit Views

After reaching the summit, we are greeted with sweeping panoramic views. The sky is so clear, we can see all the way to Walden. In the distance, we can also spot several larger peaks in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness north of Steamboat Springs. The bright orange volcanic rock is stunning against the blue sky background.

Hiking to the summit of Rabbit Ears Peak
A window into the wilderness
Hiking down after a midday snack on the summit

The Descent

After taking in the views and exploring the base of the “rabbit ears”, we find a shady spot to enjoy a quick mid-morning snack, with a view of course. On our hike back to the car, we encounter several other groups of hikers, and have the good fortune of spotting a female moose enjoying a cool dip in the creek.

A female moose cooling off in the creek

Dumont Lake

After the hike, we head down to Dumont Lake for a quick swim. The wildflowers along the short of the lake are incredible. I take my time walking back to the car, soaking in the scenery, and snapping several photos along the way.

Beautiful columbines along the bank of Dumont Lake
Sunflowers at Dumont Lake

By noon, I am back at the office, having fulfilled by hunger for adventure. This is one of the many things I love about Steamboat. There are so many amazing opportunities just beyond your doorstep, and you never have to go far to find your next adventure.


Emily Hines is the marketing and special events coordinator for the City of Steamboat Springs. Emily was born and raised in the Yampa Valley and attended the University of Oregon, where she received a Bachelor of Science in business administration with concentrations in marketing and sports business. In 2013, after seven years working on the East Coast for a lifestyle and sports marketing agency, she found her way back home to Steamboat. She loves the outdoors and enjoys sharing her adventures and all that Steamboat has to offer.

Read more from Emily here.

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