Snowshoeing Near Steamboat Springs: Rabbit Ears Pass

snowshoeing steamboat springs rabbit ears pass

Snowshoeing is a humbling experience each time I go. It reminds me of how uncoordinated I am.

An old friend is on a ski trip in Steamboat Springs, so we decided on a mini-road trip for the day for some good old-fashioned hangin’ out. Steamboat is about 2.5 hours of mountain driving from our home in Rifle. Whenever we drive to the area, I have flashbacks to an unexciting evening of driving on US 131 just north of Wolcott. It was a clear night, very little traffic, and out of nowhere, a giant mountain lion bounds across the road right in front of our car. My immediate reaction was “WHO LET THAT OUT OF THE ZOO?!” You always hear about mountain lions and know they’re out there, but until you see one in real life, you don’t think much of them. It was terrifying and awesome. Nature has a funny way of making you feel unsettled and puny.

snowshoeing steamboat springs rabbit ears pass - colorado landloping

We made a short side trip just east of Steamboat up Rabbit Ears Pass on US 40. 10 miles east of the turn-off from US 131 is the West Summit North & South Parking areas that were loaded with cars. I’m always hesitant hiking in areas that are busy since that can really take away from the experience. Surprisingly, we ran into a couple of snowshoers just getting back from their hike that said the conditions were amazing and they saw just one other group. Onward we went! It was a bleary day around 18 degrees with some light snow falling, but it truly was a winter wonderland. Deep powder, but packed down enough by previous visitors to make the hike an enjoyable challenge. I love that this area is designated for just cross country and snowshoeing recreation and that the East Summit area is for motorized recreation. The loop we did was the West Summit 1C that runs by the Meadows Campground area. We did it counter clockwise (very thankful for that) as there is a large descent that I would not have enjoyed climbing up. The area has many trails to choose from and connect to make for a longer trek.

Though the hike was only 3 miles, my legs felt it. All my falling also helped burn some extra calories (right?) This is a prime area for winter recreation just 15 minutes outside of Steamboat Springs. We were so happy to relax in a hot tub shortly after our hike!