Denver To Steamboat Springs – Things to do and How to Get There
Looking to make the drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs? Here is everything you need to know about transportation options, best route to take, weather, and more. Plus, if you are traveling slower and would like to make some stops, don’t miss these fun things to do between Denver and Steamboat Springs.
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Table of Contents
Where to Stay
Make sure to have your accommodation booked before you head out! There are a bunch of really cool rentals in Steamboat that you’ll love.
If you’d like more of a hotel feel but still with plenty of space, we always stay at the Steamboat Grand (<– my detailed review and pictures!)
Enjoy a nice, heated outdoor pool year round, hot tubs, sauna, steam room, fitness center, and gorgeous property.
Transportation from Denver to Steamboat Springs- options
Here are a few options from getting from Denver to Steamboat Springs.
Take a Flight from Denver
TLDR: If you live in Denver, then definitely drive to Steamboat. If you are flying into Denver from somewhere else, a connecting flight may be worth it.
While flying may appear to be the fastest, I wouldn’t say flying from Denver to Steamboat really saves you much time if Denver is your starting location.
The nearest airport to Steamboat Springs is the Yampa Valley Regional Airport located in the neighboring town of Hayden. It’ll take about 30 minutes to drive from the Yampa airport to Steamboat Springs.
If Denver is home, then you’ll have to factor in a lot of time other than the 30 minute flight time. Driving to the airport, parking, shuttling to the terminal, checking bags (if applicable), waiting through security, heading to the gate, and boarding time. Then the 30 minute drive from Hayden to Steamboat.
Overall, that is well over the 3 hours it takes to just drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs.
However, if Denver is not your starting location and you’re simply making a connecting flight into Hayden, then flying will definitely be worth it!
You’ll have been traveling a while already, so it’ll be nice to just hop on a plane for less than an hour and arrive.
Outside of Kremmling the road is pretty flat and easy
Drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs
Driving is the quickest way to get from Denver to Steamboat Springs.
Driving will take roughly 3 hours.
If you are flying into Denver, make sure you book your rental car ahead of time. If you are coming during the winter, you’ll want an AWD/4WD car to navigate the mountains in case there is snow. (More on weather below).
Driving is the more economical way to get to Steamboat.
Take a Bus from Denver to Steamboat Springs
You can also access Steamboat Springs by taking a bus.
If you travel from December to May, you can book a ticket on the Snowstang bus. It runs every Saturday and Sunday (plus Monday holidays).
You’ll have to set the alarm clock, though, as the shuttle leaves before 6am and departs from Union Station in downtown Denver.
Tickets are $40 roundtrip for adults and $12.50 for kids.
Shuttles from Denver to Steamboat Springs
The most popular way to get a shuttle from Denver to Steamboat Springs is by booking the Steamboat Express. This is a shared service (with an option to book a private ride as well.)
This makes a better option than the Snowstang because it is offered year-round.
You can try to book here, but chances are that you’ll have to end up calling the number that appears on screen to make your reservation.
Private Rides from Denver to Steamboat Springs
If you do want great service and a private ride from Denver to Steamboat Springs, check out Mr. Chauffer, a private chauffer service that will get you there.
Rides begin at the Denver Airport.
A large SUV that can take up to 6 people will cost just under $1,000. A larger van that can seat 9 will run about $1,400, and seating for up to 14 will cost $1,700. You’ll also have a gratuity added on top of that.
Inter Mountain Express
Inter Mountain Express is another private shuttle that you can take from the Denver Airport to Steamboat. Their rates are similar to Mr Chauffer above.
Is There a Train from Denver to Steamboat Springs?
There is no train that goes from Denver to Steamboat Springs. The closest you can get in train travel is to Winter Park, which you will then have to hop on a bus to finish the journey to Steamboat Springs.
Denver to Steamboat Drive- How to get there
If you are making the Denver to Steamboat drive on your own, know that there are two different routes you can take.
Route Via Silverthorne – about 3 hours and 160 miles
This is the quickest route to Steamboat, and my personal preferred route (because it’s quicker, ha!) If you need the best route from Denver to Steamboat, this is the winner.
Taking the route from Denver to Steamboat via Silverthorne is actually pretty easy. You’ll get on I-70 west, exit at Silverthone on CO-9, and turn left at the light in Kremmling onto US-40. Each of those points are a good distance away, but the navigation is that easy.
When you go from Denver to Steamboat through Silverthorne, you’ll head up into the mountains on I-70. When you turn at Silverthorne, it flattens out for a while. Even as you turn in Kremmling it’s pretty flat. But as you draw closer to Steamboat Springs, you’ll hit Rabbit Ears Pass.
Rabbit Ears pass is not any harder than the mountains of I-70. The difference is that you’ll be on a 2 lane road (with passing lanes as well).
Once you get down Rabbit Ears Pass, it’s short and easy the rest of the way. You’ll come down the final stretch and see Lake Catamount below, a great sign that you’re close.
>>>Check out the Amazing Lakes of Steamboat Springs<<<
Route Via Winter Park – about 3 hrs 45 minutes and 180 miles
This route takes a little longer, but some people prefer it. (I find the roads are much more windy going up the pass, and my stomach doesn’t like that!)
To make the Denver to Steamboat drive through Winter Park, you’ll hop on I-70 west and exit at US-40 west toward Empire/Granby.
Continue as it turns into CO-125.
After passing through Rand, you’ll turn left on CO-28. Take that to the end and turn left on CO-14 West. Eventually you will end at US-40 (take a right) at a point you would also end up with the route above. Except in this situation, you’re already partway through Rabbit Ears pass.
Then just drive on until you hit Steamboat Springs!
Roads and Weather from Denver to Steamboat
Assuming you have chosen the short, less windy route, here is what you can expect on your drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs going via Silverthorne.
I-70 will be easy, especially if you have driven in the mountains before. IF you haven’t driven in the mountains before, just remember to stay right if you’re going slower.
CO-9 is a real easy stretch of road, and once you are through Silverthorne, there is not much around until you reach Kremmling.
Weather can be anything during any season. It may be warm and sunny in January, or it may be a snowstorm. Be prepared, and if visibility is bad, pull over and wait it out.
We’ve driven through Rabbit Ears Pass in thick fog/snow and it was not fun. We (and anyone else on the road) were taking it very slow, but if we knew ahead of time, we would have pulled over in a safe place to wait. (Unfortunately, with how thick the fog was, we didn’t want to pull over on the side of the road in the pass).
Main roads and highways in Colorado are cleared very well and often during snowstorms. You’ll want a AWD/4WD for extra control and safety, but you will very much not be alone out there driving.
That said, if it’s actively a snowstorm (not just a light snow), traffic will be moving slower. Take it easy and stay safe.
Pro Tip: do not plan to make it back to Denver in 3 hours on a winter weekend or holiday. Ski traffic is REAL and can really delay your travel. If you do need to come back on a Saturday/Sunday or holiday, leave early. In the winter months, do not time your travel to land you on I-70 after 2:30 or you’ll probably be going a snail’s pace.
Actually, there are times a snail would have beat us.
Things to do Between Denver and Steamboat
Here’s the fun part. If you plan to go slower and make some stops, there are a few fun things to do between Denver and Steamboat with kids.
I won’t put too many or else it will make the day very long. But these few suggestions are great places to stretch out, take a bathroom break, and see some beauty.
Here are some great, kid-friendly stops to make (via the Silverthorne route,) starting closest to Denver and working toward Steamboat Springs.
- Dinosaur Ridge – This fun stop is FREE to visit. From I-70, exit onto C-470 East and shortly turn onto Alameda (there will be signs for Dinosaur Ridge). Dinosaur Ridge is a long hill up, but you’ll see a few track sites and enjoy a self-guided interpretive walk. You can also pay at the visitor center to take a shuttle.
- Idaho Springs– this stop can be long or short. You can stop at Indian Hot Springs, go on a tour of Argo gold mine, or just grab some classic Colorado Beau Jo’s pizza.
- Silverthorne – this is a great half-way place to stop. Pull into the outlet mall area. There’s a Chipolte and Which Wich sandwich shop to the right. We always stop here for lunch since the kids and adults both love it. There are of course wonderful things to do in Silverthorne as well, so you could take a few hours to hike, sit by a lake, or shop at the outlets.
- Kremmling – perhaps not super exciting, but Kremmling has a grocery store right before you exit town. It’s a great stop for a potty-break with the kids and somewhere to grab some snacks.
- Dumont Lake– If you head to Steamboat in late spring or into summer, Dumont is gorgeous with flowers in bloom. The setting is awesome and it’s a great place to get out and stretch. It’s peaceful and gorgeous and I highly recommend stopping. Note: parking is a small fee.
- Catamount Lake Overlook – I mentioned this lake above as a way to know you are super close to arriving in Steamboat. It’s quite a gorgeous view, which is why you’ll see a place to pull over and enjoy the view while coming down Rabbit Ears pass. Pull over and snap some great photos of this lake and the land around.
FAQ About Going from Denver to Steamboat Springs
Which Airlines Fly From Denver to Steamboat Springs?
United Airlines and Southwest make the short flight from Denver to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The airport for Steamboat is located in Hayden, a neighboring town. It will take about 30 minutes to get from the Yampa Valley airport to Steamboat Springs.
Are there shuttles from Denver to Steamboat Springs?
Yes. You can choose from a bus or from a private or shared small shuttle. The Snowstang bus operates throughout the winter season. The Steamboat Express shuttle service operates year round.
Is the drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs scary?
If you have never driven on mountain roads before, it might feel intimidating to drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs. Mountain roads are winding and, at times, steep, especially as you go over passes. There are also long stretches of relatively flat parts, too. Feel the safest in winter with 4WD / AWD. Leave plenty of space for sudden stops in traffic.
How Far is it from Denver to Steamboat Springs?
The quickest route from Denver to Steamboat Springs is around 160 miles and will take about 3 hours.
What is the altitude in Steamboat Springs?
The elevation of Steamboat Springs sits at 6,732. While you feel like you are deep in the mountains (and you are), the town itself is only about 1,500 feet higher than Denver. Make sure to adjust to the altitude slowly (stay in Denver a night and then transfer) if you are sensitive to altitude changes. Drink plenty of water, and hold off on the alcohol and caffeine.
Denver to Steamboat Springs
As you see, there are lots of options for transportation from Denver to Steamboat Springs. Will you fly, bus, shuttle, or drive? If you opt to drive (the most efficient way), then make sure to choose at least one of the fun things to do between Denver and Steamboat Springs. It’ll help break up the time, and you and the kids will appreciate the stretch.
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