Routt County, Colorado: Overview of Its Attractions


Routt County, located in the northwest region of Colorado, boasts a population of over 25,000 residents and covers an area of 2,368 square miles. This scenic county is known for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant ski towns, and thriving ranching communities.


  • Routt County is home to major ski resorts, including Steamboat Springs, attracting visitors from around the world.
  • Tourism, agriculture, and outdoor recreation drive the county's economy.
  • Routt County offers diverse activities and attractions, from world-class skiing to hot springs and cultural events.

Historical Context of Routt County

Routt County was founded in 1877 and named after John Long Routt, Colorado’s last territorial and first state governor. The Ute Native American tribe initially inhabited the area before the arrival of European settlers in the late 19th century. The discovery of coal and the expansion of the railroad industry played a significant role in the county’s early development.

Geographic and Natural Features

Routt County is characterized by its diverse landscape, featuring rugged mountains, lush valleys, and winding rivers. The Yampa River, a major tributary of the Colorado River, flows through the heart of the county, offering excellent opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and tubing. The county is also home to several protected areas, including the Routt National Forest and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, which offer hiking trails, camping sites, and stunning vistas.

Major Towns and Their Characteristics

Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs, the county seat and largest city in Routt County, is a world-renowned ski resort town. Known for its champagne powder snow and hot springs, Steamboat attracts visitors year-round. The town offers a vibrant arts scene, excellent dining options, and a variety of outdoor activities, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking and biking in the summer.

Hayden and Oak Creek

Hayden and Oak Creek are smaller towns in Routt County with rich histories tied to the coal mining industry. Today, these communities offer a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle compared to Steamboat Springs. Visitors can explore the towns’ historical sites, such as the Tracks and Trails Museum in Oak Creek, and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty.

Yampa and its surroundings

Yampa, a small town located in the southern part of Routt County, is known for its stunning scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities. The nearby Flat Tops Wilderness Area offers excellent hiking, fishing, and camping, while the Yampa River is popular for rafting and kayaking.

Economic Landscape

Tourism is the primary economic driver in Routt County, with Steamboat Springs serving as the main hub for visitors. The ski industry and summer outdoor recreation contribute significantly to the local economy. Agriculture, particularly ranching and hay production, is vital to the county’s economic landscape.

Cultural and Recreational Activities

Routt County offers a wide range of cultural and recreational activities throughout the year. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club hosts numerous skiing and snowboarding events, while the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series attracts visitors during the summer months. The county also boasts several art galleries, theaters, and music venues, showcasing the talents of local artists and performers.

  • Outdoor activities:
  • Skiing and snowboarding at Steamboat Ski Resort
  • Hiking and biking on the extensive trail network
  • Fishing, kayaking, and tubing on the Yampa River
  • Arts and entertainment:
  • First Friday Artwalk in Steamboat Springs
  • Steamboat Symphony Orchestra performances
  • Steamboat Springs Arts Council events

Community and Lifestyle

Routt County residents take pride in their strong sense of community and active lifestyle. The county offers excellent educational opportunities, with the Steamboat Springs School District consistently ranking among the best in the state. Healthcare facilities, such as the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, provide quality care to residents and visitors alike. Community services and volunteer opportunities are abundant, with organizations like the Routt County United Way and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council working to improve the quality of life for all residents.


What are the best times of year to visit Routt County for outdoor activities?

Winter months (December-March) are ideal for skiing and snowboarding, while summer (June-August) offers excellent hiking, biking, and water sports opportunities. Fall (September-October) is a great time to enjoy the stunning foliage and quieter atmosphere.

Can you describe the educational opportunities available in Routt County?

Routt County offers high-quality public education through the Steamboat Springs School District, which includes elementary, middle, and high schools. The county also hosts a branch of Colorado Mountain College, offering associate degrees and certificate programs.

What are some must-visit attractions in Routt County for first-time visitors?

First-time visitors should explore the Steamboat Ski Resort, soak in the hot springs, visit the Tread of Pioneers Museum, and take a scenic drive along the Flat Tops Scenic Byway.

How does Routt County support its local artists and cultural creators?

Routt County supports its local artists through organizations like the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, which hosts events, workshops, and exhibitions throughout the year. The county also offers galleries, theaters, and music venues showcasing local talent.

What initiatives are in place in Routt County to promote environmental sustainability?

The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council works to promote sustainable practices in Routt County, focusing on energy efficiency, waste reduction, and environmental education. The county also encourages the use of alternative transportation, such as biking and public transit, to reduce its carbon footprint.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.