Winters in Steamboat are long, cold, and snowy, but every storm is punctuated by spectacularly clear days. January tends to be the most extreme, with average highs below 30 (which helps keep the snow in great condition). Noteworthy events mostly occur in either summer or winter and often celebrate cowboy heritage, winter sports, or some combination of the two. For almost a hundred years now, Winter Carnival—which was started to help locals overcome cabin fever—has been taking over the month of February. It’s part film festival, part muzzle-loading biathlon, part shovel race, part pancake breakfast. January’s Cowboy Downhill, started by former Olympic ski racer Billy Kidd, pits a hundred pro rodeo cowboys—many on skis for the first time, and wearing chaps and cowboy hats—against one another in a downhill ski race.
Summer brings the Pro Rodeo Series, with bull riding and barrel racing every weekend night from June to August. Summers are close to perfect, with the hottest days topping out around 80 and nights dipping down to the 40s; like in the rest of the state, it’s a dry heat. Still, bring warm layers no matter the time of year. There are gold-medal trout streams for cast- or fly-fishing, or just to kayak or canoe down. The mountain biking here is legendary, and many Tour de France champions have challenged themselves on Mount Werner’s more than 50 miles of trails.
Most visitors—and even some locals—try to avoid mud season, when the snow has mostly melted in spring but it’s still too soggy to hike or mountain bike. It’s hard to say when this is, exactly, since it depends on how much snow comes down the previous winter, but April is always a good estimate.