Christmas is almost here, and our guests are starting to arrive for the holidays in Steamboat. We’ve asked Santa for snow, choreographed our best snow dances, and it’s working! Snow fell lightly most of the day Thursday, and another storm system is on the way. It’s forecast to drop 14 to 29 inches through Christmas Day.

Before the natural snow started falling, Steamboat’s snowmakers had been working around the clock to open additional terrain for our guests during the holidays. As of Friday, we have 9 lifts, 56 trails and 583 acres of terrain open for skiing and riding.

We know this is less terrain than we typically have open in late December, so we have some tips to help avoid crowds during the holidays, one of our busiest times of the year.

Before you arrive

  • Reload your pass online: If you’ve skied Steamboat before, you’ll have a QuickTrax lift ticket card. You can add days to your card online by going to
  • Sign your liability waiver: If you have a season or multi-day pass (3, 8 or 15 days) that you’re using for the first time, be sure to sign your waiver at

When you arrive

  • Get your tickets: Stop by the Ticket Office the day you arrive to get your tickets or passes ready for the next morning. The main Ticket Office is open 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 1, with the exception of Christmas Eve, when it will close at 5 p.m. The Ticket Office is typically busiest from about 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Get your rentals: Pick up your rental equipment the day you arrive to ensure more time for skiing and riding the next day. The main Steamboat Ski & Sport location in the Sheraton is open 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Jan. 6, with the exception of Christmas Eve, when it will close at 7 p.m.

On the mountain

  • Ski Christmas morning: Head to the mountain to make some turns while everyone is opening gifts. If you have a Steamboat 3 pass, Christmas is the last day to ski before the holiday blackout period (Dec. 26 to Jan. 7).
  • Start early: The gondola opens at 8:30 a.m. Get an early start to the day for shorter lines, wide-open runs, fresh snow and pristine corduroy. If you arrive later in the morning, the gondola line starts to die down at about 11 or 11:30 a.m.
  • Discover a new lift: High-speed quads like Storm Peak and Sundown are popular during the holidays. Try a new lift, like Four Points or Bar UE, for shorter lines. (We hope to have Bar UE and Sundown open by Christmas.)


  • Eat an early or late lunch: Everyone heads to lunch at about noon. Plan to eat earlier or later and get double the benefit: shorter lift lines when everyone is taking a lunch break and shorter food lines when everyone heads back out on the hill.
  • Make a reservation: Don’t want to wait for a table? Hazie’s and Ragnar’s take reservations for lunch. Book a table at (Ragnar’s and Rendezvous Lodge will open after Sunshine Bowl opens for the season.)

End of day

  • Skip Elkhead: Skiers and riders mostly rely on Elkhead to return to the front side of the mountain after a day of fun in Sunshine Bowl. Advanced skiers can avoid the end-of-day line on Elkhead by riding Sundown and taking Traverse (blue) to Storm Peak South (black). (We hope to have Elkhead and Sundown open by Christmas.)
  • Download: If your legs are tired at the end of the day, there’s no better way to get down the mountain than a ride on the gondola.
  • Have a snack: Steamboat’s Ambassadors hand out free hot chocolate and Champagne Powder® donuts from 3 to 4 p.m. in the base area.

Other activities

  • Ride the coaster: Long lines at base area lifts? Take a lap on the Outlaw Mountain Coaster while you wait for crowds to disperse. The mountain coaster opens at 11 a.m. daily and operates during night skiing.
  • Go night skiing: Night skiing is open 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 1, with the exception of Christmas Eve, when night skiing will be closed.
  • Go snowshoeing: Take a free guided snowshoe tour with a Steamboat Ambassador. Tours meet at 12:30 p.m. daily at the Gondola Square Steamboat Ski & Sport, which rents snowshoes for $20. You’ll need a pass to ride the gondola.
  • Ski at Howelsen Hill: The city-owned ski area is hosting free ski days on Dec. 24 and 31. Howelsen is one of the oldest ski areas in the country and is the training ground for Steamboat’s 89 Winter Olympians.

Follow these tips to avoid the holiday crowds, and maybe you’ll discover some new areas of the mountain. Merry Christmas!



Nicole Miller, Alpine skier

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