Steamboat Springs was alive with activity this past weekend. With so many events and activities taking place, some might wonder, how do you decide which one to pick? Luckily in a town the size of Steamboat Springs, you don’t have to choose, you can do it all!

Yampa River Festival

Since 1980, a local non-profit Friends of the Yampa has hosted the Yampa River Festival to raise awareness about the Yampa River that flows through Steamboat Springs. Over the years, the event has evolved to include recreational events in and around the river, parties, fundraisers, film festival and speaker series.

2018 Yampa River Festival

This year’s event kicked off on Thursday night at the Chief Theater with the State of the Yampa Address. For only $10 I was treated to an evening of engaging talks, slide shows and several short movies about the important role the Yampa River plays in our ecosystem.

Raft Rodeo at the Yampa River Festival

The festival continued on Friday and Saturday with races, demos and competitions. Local river rats had the opportunity to show off their skills in the newly added Packraftathalon. In this crazy race, competitors had to bike, inflate their raft, run a short distance, then race down the river to the finish. There were also rafting and SUP races that started from Fetcher Pond and worked their way to the finish at the C-Hole (Charlie’s Hole) near the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Raft Race at the Yampa River Festival

My favorite part of Saturday’s Yampa River Festival was the Raft Rodeo and Tube Rodeo. In the Raft Rodeo, participants enter the infamous C-Hole and see how long they can stay in it. This sounds simple enough, but it is no easy feat. The river fights back, bucking and tossing the rafts from side to side like plastic bath toys. Think mechanical bull meets wave pool and you’ll start to get a good picture of this event. Few boats make it out without flipping and dumping their passengers. The resulting carnage is a lot of fun to watch.

For the Tube Rodeo contestants, the objective is the same, but they are sent into battle with nothing more than a small inflatable tube.

Tube Rodeo contestant at the Yampa River Festival

In addition to the river activities, there were a number of vendors and other organizations on site, adding to the event’s festivities. Festival attendees could also visit Fetcher Pond to catch the Crazy River Dog Contest, and demo the latest paddle boards and kayaks, some of which are manufactured right here in Steamboat Springs.

After a fun-filled afternoon at the Yampa River Festival, it was time to get out of the sun and relax because the following day I would be running the Steamboat Half Marathon. On my way home from the festival, I stopped at Ski Haus to check out the vendors at the Steamboat Marathon expo, and pick up my number and t-shirt for the following days race.

Steamboat Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K

As Sunday morning arrived, I sleepily donned my running shoes and loaded the bus that would take me to the start. We drove the 13.1 miles through rolling hills and green meadows to Moon Hill. Despite the chilly morning air, the atmosphere at the start was electric. Music was blasting, people were dancing, and everyone had big smiles on their faces.

Although the course is primarily downhill, don’t let that deceive you. It is not an easy race, but the beautiful scenery and friendly faces along the way, more than make up for the challenges you’ll face. My favorite part of the race was the aid stations, most of which were staffed by local non-profit organizations. I especially enjoyed the “unofficial” aid station around mile 9, serving up ice pops, cold beer and bacon.

All smiles at the Steamboat Marathon finish line

After sprinting down Lincoln Avenue to the finish line, I celebrated with friends on the courthouse lawn. We played a game of cornhole, enjoyed a cold beer, and visited the sponsor booths to pick up some free post-race goodies.

There is always something fun to do in Steamboat, and this weekend was no exception. Despite being exhausted from my race, I ended the weekend feeling rejuvenated and looking forward to planning my next weekend 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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