If you have never careened down the side of a mountain on a sunny summer day, in a downhill alpine sled, this is a must-do for families of all ages. Steamboat Springs is fortunate enough to have a fantastic alpine slide conveniently located in downtown on Howelsen Hill. Historic Howelsen Hill is the oldest, longest-running ski area in Colorado. It’s a small mountain compared to our main ski resort, but our Olympic hopefuls and many U.S. Ski Team member residents practice there. So let’s just say it’s not just any old “hill” and if it’s steep enough for the racing greats, it definitely can give thrill seekers a wild ride.
The Howler alpine slide is also a great activity for families 2 and up. You don’t have to go big or go home. You can adjust your speed according to your comfort level. The slide consists of a 2,400 foot track that winds from the top of Howelsen to the bottom. Kids 2-6 years old must ride with a parent or guardian. Kids 7 and up can easily ride by themselves.
Everyone takes a scenic chairlift ride up to the top of Howelsen Hill. Breathtaking views of the surrounding area greet you at the top (and all along the way for that matter). When you reach the top, the sleds are already waiting and the attendant lines everyone up and lets you know when it’s safe to take your turn. When it’s go time, there’s a handy little brake in the middle that lets you adjust your speed. If you’re as lame as I am, that means you can slowly meander your sled down the cement slide and pick up speed as soon as your bravery increases. If you’re a crazy person, like my husband and children, you can go fast from the get go and then make fun of your mom/wife at the bottom.
Important tip, be sure to wear shorts or pants. I have made the mistake of showing up at the slide in a mini skirt and let’s just say that is not even a remotely optimal choice of clothing. In case of wardrobe malfunction or just the need to relax, you can sit out the ride while the rest of the family heads up the hill. There’s plenty of shade from tall trees and picnic tables at the bottom. You can enjoy a little bit of peace and then even grab a photo of the family screeching to a halt at the very end.
Purchase tickets for the alpine slide in the little yurt at the base of the mountain. All proceeds benefit the Winter Sports Club which trains our local Olympic hopefuls, so it’s not just an adrenaline-fueled fun ride, but also one that supports a great local cause.