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Area History


This historic western town sits in the beautiful Yampa Valley at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass. It got its name when the first pioneers to the area thought they heard a steamboat coming down the Yampa River. The sound actually came from the natural mineral springs at the far end of town now named the "steamboat spring." The Ute Indians, along with Shoshoni, Arapahoe, Lakota, Crow, and Cheyenne, were the first settlers of the valley. The Ute Indians spent summers in the valley as early as the 14th century. They took advantage of the 150 medicinal hot springs and the bountiful hunting in the valley. The Utes were forced to a reservation in northern Utah after a confrontation with Nathan Meeker and the U.S. army in 1879.

Cattle were introduced into the area around 1860 and ranching is still one of the valley’s chief resources. The Depot in town was once one of the largest cattle shipping centers in the west. Ranching continued to be the main economy of the area until the mid-1900’s. At that time, a new resource was emerging—the Olympic skier. Steamboat has produced more winter Olympians than any other town in North America with over 40 and counting. Steamboat is not only a fantastic place to visit in the winter, but also offers great family vacation opportunities in the summer as well.

Video Courtesy of SteamboatSummer.com