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DOWNTOWN STEAMBOAT

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownDowntown Steamboat Springs is only about 12 blocks long, but it has just about everything a town could possibly offer.

Spread around this area are a river, a ski hill, baseball fields, a skate park, a college, a rodeo ring, an indoor ice rink, a library, a movie theater, bus stops for the town’s free bus, restaurants and bars that have live entertainment, parks, churches, a railroad, an art gallery, a bike path and cute shops that sell paintings and clothes and ice cream.

It isn’t surprising that living downtown offers the type of lifestyle that many residents want.

downtown_lthMarie Dailey has lived in a house downtown for more than 20 years. She loves the location because it’s convenient, especially for her 12-year old daughter.

“She can walk downtown,” Dailey said about her daughter. “It’s safe and it’s really close to schools.”

Dailey said she also loves her location because it’s easy to be a part of anything going on in town, from parades and festivals and rodeos, to art shows and marathons and concerts. Living downtown means it’s even possible to watch an event for a few minutes, and then take a casual stroll by the river and do a little shopping before calling it a night.

“There’s a sense of history here, and a community feel,” Dailey said. “Your neighbors are close and you know them.”

ELK RIVER VALLEY

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownThe Elk River Valley area, which is bordered by Steamboat Springs to the south and by Clark to the north, offers country living close to town. It is quiet and pastoral, with rolling hills that light up at sunset, plenty of open space and expansive views of nearby hills and forests.

Homes in this area are a top choice for any horse-lover who wants to live near town. The area has two major subdivisions, Elk River Estates and Deer Mountain Estates, which together have about 100 family homes. All of the homes are fairly new, with the oldest dating to the early 1970s.

Houses range in size from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet, and sit on one to three acres of land in Elk River Estates, or about five acres of land in Deer Mountain Estates. Prices for these homes range from $400,000 to $800,000.

Doug and Ellin Smith live with their two small children in Elk River Estates. Their house backs up to the woods, so it has the feel of privacy and space, Doug Smith said.

One characteristic of the development that the Smiths enjoy is that it is kid friendly, Smith said. Most of the Smith’s neighbors have children, and with little traffic and big lots, the children have room to move around.

“It’s close to town, and yet far enough out that you’re not in town, and it’s convenient and friendly,” Doug Smith said. “We really like it.”

North of these two subdivisions are homes that sit on even larger tracts of land. Subdivisions such as Elk River Mountain Ranch split land into 35-acre lots.

Further north, these lots get even larger, and ranches are more common.

All of the homes in this area are on well and septic, so potential homebuyers should be aware that there can be extra costs associated with these features.

Big open spaces, large lots and ranches, gorgeous views and a pastoral, agricultural feel are all characteristic of the Elk River area. Residents say it’s almost surprising to have all of those features only 15 to 30 minutes outside of Steamboat Springs.

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FISH CREEK FALLS

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

Finding a family-oriented neighborhood to raise their three children brought Bill and Carolyn Krueger to the Fish Creek Falls area seven years ago, and they’ve been happy with the move ever since.

map_downtownIn the Kruegers’ neighborhood, probably three-quarters of the families have children. The residents without children usually have at least two dogs, Bill Krueger said.

Children roam the neighborhoods and invariably end up in the backyard with the most space and the greenest grass, Krueger said. There are yellow signs for kids playing, basketball hoops over garage doors and plastic slides in back yards. There are trails leading from downtown to the top of Steamboat Boulevard, so it’s possible to walk and bike. And undeveloped land at the boundary of the Fish Creek Falls area means animals often pass through the neighborhood.

“We’ve seen foxes, deer, elk, bears. Last year we even had moose running down Fish Creek Falls Road,” Krueger said. “Since we’re above town, most of the lots have good sunsets… Just being higher up out of the valley, there are a few more benefits.”

The Fish Creek neighborhoods are off of Fish Creek Falls Road, a four-mile road that runs from the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association to Fish Creek Falls, an impressive waterfall that is one of the top attractions for visitors to the Steamboat area.

Most of the residences in Fish Creek Falls are free-standing homes, although there are sections of duplexes and townhouses. Homes range in size from 1,600 square feet to more than 6,000 square feet. They also range in price, with some selling for as little as $350,000 and others going for more than $1 million.

fishcreek_thHere, it seems, there is something for almost everyone.

The homes are mostly new, with the oldest ones built in the 1970s. That means most of the plumbing, electrical systems and other features are up-to-date.

While there has been a lot of growth in this area over the past 10 to 15 years, residents should not expect to see a lot more. For most of the residents in these developments, Fish Creek Falls provides a year-round home and second-home owners are not as common.

The subdivisions have a traditional feel, with ample yards for playground equipment and long driveways for playing basketball. Some areas such as Willet Heights are higher-density and have duplexes on quarter-acre lots, while other areas such as Blue Sage having single-family homes on lots that are a quarter and half an acre.

Climbing up Fish Creek Falls Road, subdivisions disappear and houses sit on larger lots. The road snakes around through aspen groves, giving glimpses of the ski mountain and of town, and eventually bringing drivers to Fish Creek Falls.

Most of the Fish Creek Falls area is easily within biking distance from town, and it also provides some of the most spectacular views in the city, including Howelsen Hill, Sleeping Giant and the ski area. The road from town quickly gains elevation, so homeowners can watch the sun set over town and the sun rise on the ski area.

Steamboat Boulevard and Hilltop Lane offer easy connections to the mountain and to Highway 40 east of town, so all areas of Steamboat are easily accessible.

GROUSE CREEK PARK, BLACKTAIL MOUNTAIN ESTATES AND HENDERSON PARK

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownThe area just south of Steamboat Springs along Colorado Highway 131 is pretty any time of year, but when fall’s cool weather starts moving in, residents say the landscape is simply stunning.

Fall is when the large stands of aspen trees, which reach up the hills and out around the open meadows, put on a show. Their leaves turn a shocking yellow, adding nice contrast to the green pines and grassy fields.

“It’s outrageous in the fall,” said Kathy Matzdorf, who has lived in the area with her husband Fred for the past 30 years. The Matzdorfs’ home sits on a 35-acre lot, which Kathy said provides a good bit of space for their son – as well as their dogs, chickens, peacocks and cats – to roam.

The large lot also means the Matzdorfs’ home is tucked away in the forest, but is still close enough to town to get back and forth easily.

“It’s incredible. You wake up, you don’t hear anything but birds, and you look out your window and see elk everywhere,” Matzdorf said. “Then it only takes 15 minutes to get to town and be in the craziness, and 15 minutes later I can be back at home.”

The area has a rural, agricultural feel, although there are a number of subdivisions among a handful of ranches. Lots for the subdivisions are big – five to 35 acres – so the overall character is pastoral.

Three major developments here are Grouse Creek Park, Blacktail Mountain Estates and Henderson Park. All of the homes in these subdivisions fall into the upper-end to luxury home category, with prices ranging from $500,000 to more than $4 million.

Housing styles range from older ranch homes that date back to the 1920s, to brand-new custom-built homes. In Henderson Park, there is even a stone castle that overlooks Stagecoach Reservoir.

Besides being surrounded by gorgeous scenery, homes in this area are close to a range of amenities. Stagecoach Reservoir, with its ample fishing and hiking, is a short drive away, while skiing in Steamboat is less than 20 minutes by car. The city award-winning Haymaker golf course, which sits near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 131, is also close.

Parents should be aware that the area is served by two school districts, with some students going to the South Routt County schools and others to Steamboat.

Although all of these homes are on well and septic, water wells have a good reputation in this area.

HAYDEN

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_haydenThe search for a place to live with a small-town feel, strong community ties and more affordable homes has sent many people to the town of Hayden 23 miles west of Steamboat Springs.

The main street through Hayden has a handful of stores, restaurants and one flashing red light. There’s a town park and a new playground, a nice library and a well-stocked grocery store.

Residents cite the good schools, which take students from elementary school through high school, and the more reasonable home prices as reasons to live in Hayden.

And once they’re there, people say they like how town residents feel a bond with one another.

“Because we’re a small community, we’re kind of like a family,” said Donna Hellyer, a longtime Hayden resident. “You walk down the street and you know your neighbors.”

Most everyone in town goes out to watch the kids play baseball, and most everyone shows up for town events, she said.

hayden_th

Homes in Hayden usually sell for $150,000 to $270,000, with townhomes selling for around $130,000. Compared to Steamboat, it’s easier in Hayden to find big, family-sized homes with large yards, or to buy a home sitting on a 35-acre parcel of land for a price that can be considered affordable.

For many people who work in Steamboat Springs, the half-hour commute each morning and night is worth the chance to own a home in Hayden.

Hellyer said she thinks that more growth and economic development will benefit the town, but that the while the town grows, it should keep supporting efforts to bring the community together. She said she looks forward to more events like Summerfest, which brought live music, good food, antique cars and art booths to Hayden’s town park for the first time last summer.

With more of those events, she said, the town will keep and strengthen its community ties.

“I think it’s a community that can come together,” Hellyer said. “When the chips are down we kind of stick together.”

MOUNTAIN AREA

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownFor some Steamboat residents, a home on the mountain means one thing – easier access to skiing.

Known as “Ski Town USA,” Steamboat Springs’s almost 3,000-acre resort attracts winter sports enthusiasts from around the world. A house or condo on the mountain can give the feeling of having miles and miles of first-rate ski runs in your own backyard.

But living on the mountain means more than just the chance to take a run or two before work or to be first to ski on 14 inches of fresh powder.

It means being close to some of Steamboat’s largest stores, so restocking the refrigerator or picking up a video can be done within minutes. It means having top-notch golfing and mountain biking outside your door, as well as nearby playing fields, hiking trails and an indoor tennis court. It means being able to walk to the rock concerts, balloon festivals, and other events that take place on the mountain. And it means living on steeply curving roads that provide views of stunning sunsets over town.

Plus, the mountain’s range of housing options provides some of Steamboat’s most affordable living opportunities. There are one-bedroom condominiums that cost as little as $80,000, and entry-level homes that aren’t out of reach for first-time homeowners. Although lower prices usually mean further distances from the resort, the ski mountain is still nearby.

Like beachfront property, homes that are ski-in and ski-out, or even golf-in and golf-out, carry a premium. Homes that are higher up the mountain also tend to have higher price tags and larger lots. Some of the homes in the area close to Highway 40 have lots that are a quarter of an acre, while lots higher up the mountain can reach up to one acre.

resort_thThe mountain area has the highest concentration of second-home ownership, which means that in some neighborhoods, some residents may only be around for part of the year.

Most of Steamboat’s condos are located on the mountain. Each set of condos is different – different colors, construction materials, sizes, angles, views.

Many of the houses, condos and townhomes on the mountain are newer, with the oldest units dating back to the 1960s. The area’s largest developments are Whistler Meadows, Running Bear, Ski Ranches, Fairway Meadows and the Sanctuary.

Whistler Meadows is the section of the mountain closest to Highway 40. Many of its housing units are condominiums, but there are also some fairly affordable freestanding homes. The Yampa Core Trail starts here, so residents who work downtown can easily bike to work during a sunny summer day. Although most condos don’t have yards, the area is dog-friendly: At the end of the work day, many residents let dogs run around and visit.

At the other boundary of the mountain area is the Sanctuary, one of Steamboat’s most exclusive developments. Here, each home is its own statement, with styles ranging from stucco to stone, painted wood to dark logs. Some homes back up to the Sheraton golf course. All are surrounded by aspen and pine trees, and feel secluded, almost in the woods. Town isn’t visible from here. Residents have the feel of being tucked into the mountains, away from town. Street signs describe the views from this development: Forest View, Golf View, Heavenly View.

With a range of home styles and prices to choose from, and the accessibility of skiing, shopping and other activities, many people are happy to find a place to live in the mountain area.

NORTH ROUTT COUNTY

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownChris King has seen or lived in most every place in the state of Colorado, but he is quick to say Clark is special.

“I’ve lived all over the state, and although this is not the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, it’s in the top three,” King said.

That says a lot, considering that this area, which stretches north from Clark to the Wyoming border, is not a hot spot for tourists. But the beauty of North Routt County, residents say, is enhanced by its remoteness.

Clark is a 30-minute drive north from the center of Steamboat Springs, while traveling further north to Hahn’s Peak adds another 20 minutes.

Unlike other areas around Steamboat Springs that can best be characterized as “Western” environments with dry landscape, Clark and the rest of North Routt sit a little higher and so are characterized as “Alpine” environments. That means tall, sweet-smelling pines, crisp air and sharp light.

There’s a rural feel here, and life is ruled by both ranching and recreation. The area is home to a mix of ranchers and professionals, so residents who aren’t driving cattle around nearby fields are usually driving their cars back and forth to Steamboat.

Most homes between Clark and Hahn’s Peak sit on large plots of land as stand-alone units, but there are some subdivisions. Near Willow Creek Pass, lots are under an acre and homes range in size from smaller modular homes to large custom homes. All of these homes are serviced by water and sewer. Land values that are still considered a good buy have helped keep home prices between $300,000 and $600,000, making homes in this area more affordable.

Hahn’s Peak Village is a little town north of Willow Creek Pass that is quaint and cool. The light around town shines differently, visitors say, giving a glow to buildings such as the historic “Little Green Schoolhouse.” The town’s dirt road offers views of both the pyramidal spire of Hahn’s Peak, which seems to rise out of nothing, and the glassy blue expanse of Steamboat Lake.

Housing styles in Hahn’s Peak run the gamut from tiny old cabins built in the 1920s to new, expansive homes. Subdivisions around the lake are split into lots of two to 35 acres. These homes are new – most were built during or after the 1980s – and sell for at least $400,000.

North still of Hahn’s Peak is Columbine, where a series of cabins provides summer and winter getaways for visitors. There aren’t many homes in this area, and those that are standing are usually summer or second homes.

The area does have an elementary school. The North Routt Charter School opened in the fall of 2001 and provides services to kindergarten through fifth-grade students. Students may also attend school in Steamboat Springs.

Short-term supplies are easy to get at Steamboat Lake Outfitters or down in Clark’s country store, but many residents find themselves making a trip south to Steamboat at least once a week.

“It puts another twist on life when you’ve got a 40-mile commute to get a gallon of milk,” King said.

But the commute is worth it for professionals looking to live outside a busy resort town. It’s also worth it for outdoor enthusiasts, who thrive on the range of outdoor activities that are accessible from the front and back doors of every North Routt home. During the winter, snowmobiling and backcountry skiing here are top-notch, with North Routt drawing “powder hounds” from around the state. During the summer, residents find themselves with easy access to fishing, camping, rafting, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and hunting.

With a rural feel, and its focus on ranching and recreation, North Routt offers a landscape and lifestyle that attracts a range of people.

SOUTH AND WEST

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownLiving in Deerwood Ranches, a development on the southwestern side of Emerald Mountain, has opened the door to a range of activities for the Kmetz family. There’s cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing in the winter, and hiking or biking in the summer.

And there’s the abundant wildlife, which put on a better show than prime-time television.

“My kids don’t even watch T.V. before bed,” Cathy Kmetz said. “They watch the elk out the window.”

There is a strong sense of community here, where neighbors often get together for hay wagon pulls and dinner parties, Kmetz said. Although Steamboat is only 20 minutes away, the drive adds just enough space so residents feel like they’re in their own, quiet world. A world, Kmetz said, that is exceedingly beautiful.

For example, little ponds fed by creeks bringing runoff from snow form around the rolling meadows during springtime, making peaceful background music, Kmetz said.

“The valley just sounds alive,” Kmetz said. “It looks pretty and it sounds pretty.”

Subdivisions that are separated from town by Emerald Mountain include Creek Ranch, Twenty-Mile Ranch, Whitewood/Aspen Highlands and Deerwood Ranches. Homes in this area sit on lots that run from five to 35 acres, and are mixed in with a lot of large ranches.

The setting out here is rural and agricultural, and the landscape includes wide-open ranges to dense aspen forests.

Residents often own horses, or at least big dogs, as there is plenty of room to roam.

Home prices start at around $450,000, and easily reach into the $2 million range. Some of the ranch homes often date back to the 1940s and 1950s, while most homes in subdivisions were built during or after the 1970s.

Driving to town can take 15 to 30 minutes, but this area can be accessed by going in either direction around Emerald, so commuters have a chance to change their daily routes.

There are a lot of year-round residents in the subdivisions with smaller acreage lots. Areas with larger land parcels tend to have more second-home owners.

All homes are on well and septic, although some subdivisions have a central water system to service their homes.

THE SOUTH VALLEY

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownFor some of Steamboat’s most luxurious living, homebuyers turn to the South Valley, where subdivisions such as Catamount Ranch offer homes that spread up to 10,000-square feet and cost buyers up to $10 million.

This rural, private area is also home to several less expensive – but still top-end – developments, including Dakota Ridge, Country Green and Steamboat Pines.

The South Valley sits just east of Steamboat and is characterized by subdivisions with home values ranging from $500,000 to $10 million and lot sizes from 2.5 to 35 acres. The well-spaced homes and the high number of working ranches in the area keep the landscape open and pastoral.

It is likely to stay open, too, as long-term building plans for Steamboat include efforts to limit growth in this area and create or maintain open space.

Besides its proximity to town, another benefit of living in the South Valley is the Yampa River, which fly-fishers, kayakers, and hikers are all able to enjoy. And in the higher-end developments, extra amenities such as well-stocked fishing streams and private clubs and golf courses are also offered. About half of the residents in this area are second-home owners.

Home styles here vary. Although there are a handful of older, ranching homes, most of the homes here are fairly modern, with the oldest dating back to the 1970s.

Landscape here is also varied, but overall, it is beautiful. The South Valley is the first thing visitors see from the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass. The rich valley floor lazily spreads out around the area, with hay meadows stretching out and reaching up to the hills. Aspen stands and pine trees are both common to different places.

Dakota Ridge, with home prices that hit about $2 million and lots that reach up to 15 acres, offers great views of the valley.

Homes in Steamboat Pines take some time getting up to, as they’re accessed by a steep dirt road. But residents here say the surrounding tall pine trees and the sense of solitude are worth the work.

All of these homes offer the luxury of living in the country while still being close to town.

SOUTH ROUTT COUNTY

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_south_routtSouth of Steamboat sit the towns of Oak Creek, Phippsburg, and Yampa, all of which vary in landscape, amenities and character, but have one similarity – they are all small.

For someone looking for a home in a small community that is still reasonably close to both Steamboat Springs and Interstate 70, these three towns offer good options.

Oak Creek, with a population of around 850, is the first town that drivers hit as they wind south along Routt County Road 131 from Steamboat.

Oak Creek seems tucked into the rocky, shrubby landscape, but opens up enough to provide space for a town park and some breathing room for homes.

The Soroco School District serves the towns in South Routt. The middle and high schools for Soroco are in Oak Creek while the elementary school is in Yampa.

The main street through Oak Creek is lined with mostly older, clapboard buildings that house a drugstore, a coffee shop, a gas station, a liquor store and a variety of restaurants. Oak Creek residents pride themselves for their restaurants, which serve cuisine varying from Chinese food to hand-tossed pizza, and which entice hungry Steamboat Springs’ residents to make the drive south.

More and more young families and first-time homeowners who can’t afford Steamboat or who are looking for a smaller town are buying property in Oak Creek. And even though some people commute half an hour to Steamboat to work, Realtors say that the commute can sometimes be a selling point, as it gives people a chance to catch their breath and distance themselves from the rush of the day.

Oak Creek has a range of home styles, with small and large, newer and older homes. Prices for homes range from $90,000 to $300,000.

Gail Schisler has lived in Oak Creek for almost 18 years and says that just because the town is small, it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do.

“There are lots of activities going on. You can keep yourself busy with volunteering or with after-school activities with the kids. And there are lots of good restaurants,” Schisler said. “It’s a very tight knit community. You always say ‘hi’ to everybody.”

Less than 4 miles south of Oak Creek is Phippsburg, the smallest of these three towns and the only that is unincorporated so is under the authority of Routt County.

Housing here is less expensive than it is in Oak Creek. About half a dozen homes have been built in the last few years, a lot for a town that has only about 50 homes total. Some of the homes date back to the early 1900s.

There are no stores or restaurants here, so residents travel to Oak Creek or even to Steamboat Springs to pick up their necessities. Many residents work for the railroad and the coal company, and families with children as well as retirees are also common.

The town of Yampa is six miles south of Phippsburg and is about half the size of Oak Creek. It has strong ties to ranching and agriculture. A 24-hour diner and a Montgomery’s store are both located in town.

Because Yampa is also the gateway to the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, Colorado’s second largest wilderness area, town is busier in the summer and quieter in the winter.

The landscape is flat and open, with sprawling ranches always in view.

Although skiing isn’t right out the backdoor, Yampa is close to both Vail and Steamboat ski resorts, making it a happy medium for skiers who like variety and don’t care about a longer drive to get to the resorts.

The area surrounding Oak Creek, Phippsburg and Yampa makes up rural South Routt County. Here, ranching is still the predominant way of life.

The landscape consists of expanses of bottomland and hay meadows, with clear views of the Flat Tops and a scattered ranch house here and there.

STAGECOACH

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_south_routtFrom his townhouse in Stagecoach, Kurt Castor watches the sun rise, tracks storms that come into the valley, and has a perfect view of the immense lake where he sails and fishes.

“The view from my place is amazing,” Castor said. “I just think it’s just a beautiful area.”

He said he has enjoyed living in Stagecoach so much during these past six years that even though he works in Steamboat for the ski resort, he is planning on buying a house in Stagecoach.

“The main reason I like it is that it’s away from Steamboat and away from the chaos,” Castor said. “It’s peaceful here, and it’s got a nice feeling of community.”

A number of other people share Castor’s sentiment. Stagecoach is one of the areas near Steamboat that is expected to grow a lot during the coming decades. It was initially planned out in the 1970s, when a few sets of townhouses were built, but growth halted during much of the 1980s because of an inadequate power supply.

With the expansion of utilities into the area in the mid-1990s, the pace of growth has quickened, and new subdivisions have sprung up around the area.

Now, homes in subdivisions such as Eagleswatch and Meadowgreen at Stagecoach, which were built in the last decade and sit on fully-serviced lots, sell for $225,000 to $375,000. These homes come with three-quarter-acre lots, and range in size from 1,800 to 2,800 square feet.

stagecoach_thDevelopments with large, 35-acre lots also are becoming more common, and include Blue Valley Ranch, Morrison Divide Ranch, and the Meadows at Stagecoach. Developments such as Young’s Creek Estates, Coyote Run and Lynx Basin Estates are split into slightly smaller lots.

Most of these homes on larger lots sell for $1 million or more.

Although Stagecoach is a 20-minute drive from Steamboat Springs, it is only five miles from the town of Oak Creek. Its access to National Forest land and to water recreation on Stagecoach reservoir is a selling point for many residents.

Another benefit of living in Stagecoach is the warmer climate, where there is less snow and cold weather than there is in Steamboat.

And, residents are quick to point out that the area is beautiful. Flat meadows with meandering creeks surround the lake, and everything is edged in by heavily forested hillsides and large stands of aspen trees. The horizon gives good views of pine forests and the nearby acres of wilderness.

STRAWBERRY PARK

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownAs the summer sun sets over Strawberry Park, the valley lights up gold.

Green meadows creep upwards, eventually becoming steep hills that are often covered with snow from November to May. Driving up the road that leads to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs or the dirt road that leads to national forest land at Buffalo Pass, the views get better and better.

This is where Paul Hands, a Strawberry Park resident for the past 25 years, sits on his porch and plays guitar as the sun goes down, with only the trees and the creek listening. It’s where he rides his horse through five acres of mountainside forest and 10 acres of meadow property. It’s where he puts on cross-country skis to pick up his mail whenever there’s snow on the ground.

Surprisingly, from this mountain retreat, Hands only has to travel five minutes to get to his work downtown at Steamboat GMAC real estate.

strawberry_th“That’s the special thing about living in Strawberry Park. You can wake up and look at the sun coming across the meadow and see the deer and fox, and then be at work in five minutes,” Hands said. “That’s the appeal of it.”

Strawberry Park has the feel of the countryside, but doesn’t require the hour-long commute that country living often does. In the meadows between Strawberry Park road and Amethyst Drive, some houses take up a little more space with additions and barns and garages. Other homes stay small, and look more like cabins than like family homes. Down in the meadow, there is a feeling of openness and plenty of space.

Strawberry Park Road continues into Routt County Road 36, with Country Road 38 branching off in the meadow. Both of these roads climb up into the hills, which are splattered with houses. Stands of aspen and pine trees remind residents they live in the midst of the forest.

County Road 36 ends up in the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a secluded set of pools filled with naturally steaming hot water, the perfect end to a day of hard skiing. County Road 38 head over Buffalo Pass and brings drivers and bikers and joggers to national forest access.

Strawberry Park doesn’t have any subdivisions and it doesn’t even have that many houses. The homes are on large lots of two acres to a few hundred acres. And with national forest land higher up the hillsides, there is a natural boundary to development here.

Homes typically are $1 million or more, and each home is on its own utility and electric grid.

But for able buyers who want secluded, country living close to town, Strawberry Parks is a good choice.

“When I came back to town 30 years ago, I saw this meadow and stand of trees,” Hands said. “And I thought, if I could ever have a house… I’d like it to be there.”

U.S. HIGHWAY 40 WEST CORRIDOR

STEAMBOAT PILOT & TODAY

map_downtownDrivers heading just a few miles west of Steamboat Springs may feel like they’re in the middle of the shrub-speckled, rocky countryside. Only the clear views of Mount Werner rising in the rearview mirror serve as a reminder of town.

But after about five miles, some of the area’s most popular and most affordable subdivisions appear, including Heritage Park, Steamboat II and Silver Spur Estates. This area around U.S. Highway 40 is particularly popular with working families.

Affordability was the factor that convinced Cathy Glynn and her husband to buy a home in Steamboat II. There, the couple found that the price they could pay for a house went a lot further than it did in town.

Glynn said that besides being affordable, the neighborhoods in this area are kid-friendly, a plus for the Glynns, who have two young children of their own.

“It’s a nice neighborhood,” Glynn said. “I have some wonderful neighbors, I have some nice friends here, and there are a lot of kids.”

There is a good sense of community here. Children hop on their bikes to stop by a friend’s house, and neighbors greet each other as they pick up their mail and water their lawns. Most of the families living here also work in town, so are at their homes year-round.

Some of the homes in Steamboat II date to the 1970s, though many were built during the last two decades. Growth in this region is predicted to increase, and according to city and county plans, this area should stay somewhat affordable for the residents who work in town, as it has been in the past.

Heritage Park, which is directly across the highway from Steamboat II, and Silver Spur are much newer developments with homes still being built there. Those neighborhoods have been some of Steamboat’s busiest for new home construction in the last two years. Lots in Heritage Park and Silver Spur start at about $95,000. Home prices range from $300,000 to $500,000.

The newest neighborhood along West U.S., Highway 40 is West End Village, an affordable housing development near the intersection of the highway and Elk River Road. There are 79 lots in West End Village, where lot prices start at $65,000. Of the 79 homes in the neighborhood, 38 are reserved for deed-restricted affordable housing sold to residents who make no more than 120 percent of the area’s median household income. The other lots are being sold on the open market.

The deed-restricted and open-market homes are to be interspersed throughout the neighborhood and are largely indistinguishable. Construction on the homes began in the spring of 2003.

Throughout the West U.S. Highway 40 corridor, there are nice views of the ski mountain and surrounding hills, and Steamboat Golf Club is also nearby.

Another possible benefit of living in this area is that much of Steamboat’s shopping is growing in the western direction. With newer stores such as Curve Market, there isn’t reason to drive back through town to buy groceries or eat out for dinner.

Good family-sized homes, easy shopping, a good sense of neighborhood and affordability are all reasons to choose a home along the West-40 corridor. Even hardcore skiers have no complaints, as the resort is only a 10-minute drive away.