As soon as we found a place in the crowd, it started to snow. The stage lights hitting the flakes looked like confetti fluttering around us, and the backdrop of mountains made this scene even more magical.
We decided to go to the ‘Grass after Dark’ event hosted by WinterWonderGrass at Schmiggity’s. It featured the Jack Cloonan Band covering hit songs in a bluegrass fashion. We had a couple of beers and a few hot dogs while we danced around for the late-night tunes.
Since ski towns are so popular this time of year, Airbnb’s and hotels can be expensive. We chose to take the less expensive route. We parked in The Routt National Forest and slept in our car camper.
Park regulations state that campers’ vehicles must be two car-lengths away from the road. It didn’t take us too long to find a plowed parking space to back into comfortably. We pulled out our sleeping bags and called it a night.
Day 2: Skiing at Howelson Hill
Though we woke up stiff and chilly, the sleeping arrangement could have been much worse. Properly rated sleeping bags and lots of layers are critical. We were up early, so we decided to head into Steamboat Springs to find a bite to eat.
I had seen recommendations for Creekside Cafe on social media, so we luckily popped in before the morning crowd arrived.
We walked down 11th Street to One Stop Ski Shop for our necessary rentals. It only cost us $25 each to get skis, boots, helmets, and poles for 24 hours. We loaded up all of gear and headed to legendary Howelson Hill ski area.
We had stopped in earlier to see how much lift passes would be. To our surprise, a single day pass was only $25. (Compare that to Steamboat Resort’s $199!)
Learn more about Howelson Hill's famous runs in my more detailed blog post, here!
Night 2: Music and Hot Springs
Our time on Howelson Hill did wear us out, but we weren't going to let anything stop us from dancing our tails off at the stages of Winter Wonder Grass. We saw Town Mountain, The Shook Twins, and The California Honeydrops before the headliners, Trampled By Turtles. We tent hopped and boot stomped throughout the night, but we left before the final show with hot plans in mind.
Read more from our night at Strawberry Hot Springs park in my blog post, here!
Day 3: Exploring the Forest before the Festival
It turned out that our parking spot from the night before was only one half mile from the springs. After another chilly morning, we decided to go back to Strawberry Springs get a few pictures and explore more of the forest. (I couldn't take any photos at night since clothing is optional, but I couldn't help but go back to the hot springs the next day to document where we'd been.)
Little did we know, we were heading toward the Buffalo Pass Winter Backcountry Area. After parking, we grabbed a pass and took a stroll down the well-packed road. There are designated boundaries for motorized vehicles and non-motorized activities, but snowmobiling seemed to be the most popular hobby among visitors. John and I marveled at the pristine snow pack before making our way back to Steamboat for another night of strings.
We were greeted by tunes from Pickin' on The Dead before Billy Strings blew our minds. A shorter set of Town Mountain gave us a chance to warm up with coffee drinks from the tent’s bar before the big headliner of the night, The Infamous Stringdusters. We snagged some pizza before the All-Star, late night set, then we hit the road back to Denver.
Night 3: Our Return Home
Three hours and a few inches of snow later, we made it home safe and sound. We were exhausted, but we were in amazement at how incredible our weekend had just been.
WinterWonderGrass is a great reason to visit Steamboat Springs even if you aren’t hooked on bluegrass music yet. Dancing to the rhythm of a stand up bass with hundreds of joyous people can only add to the charm and opportunities of Steamboat Springs.
See more resent ski trips in other blog posts below:
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.