Steamboat Marathon: A Run Through Conservation in the Elk River Valley

 moon valley.fallriver_horizontalA pristine stretch of the Elk River on YVLT-conserved Moon Valley Ranch, just west of the marathon course.

On June 5th, around 1,000 runners from across the nation will converge on Routt County to participate in the Steamboat Marathon, renowned as one of the most beautiful road races in the United States and ranked by Runner’s World as a “Top 10 Destination Marathon” (in addition to previously making the publication’s list for “10 Most Scenic Marathons of the Year”).

Now entering its 35th year, the celebrated event begins at Hahn’s Peak Village near the base of the iconic dormant volcano – one of North Routt County’s most recognizable natural features.  From there, the course meanders through the majestic Elk River Valley along the ranch-lined County Road 129 and culminates at the historic courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The marathon is extremely popular in part because of its beautiful scenery, which inspire a long list of superlatives and add to its allure.  For instance, the Steamboat Chamber of Commerce highlights the event’s idyllic setting in its marketing tools: “Run alongside the roaring Elk River through the emerald green pastures on Country Road 129 with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains of Colorado all around and find out why the Steamboat Marathon was ranked as one of the “Top 10 Destination Marathons in North America.”

warren barn 2It will be difficult for runners to miss the big red barn at YVLT-conserved Warren Ranch!

Land conservation is among the key reasons why the Elk River Valley remains pristine with a wealth of natural areas despite its close proximity to Steamboat Springs.  YVLT has preserved thousands of acres in this area, protecting the river valley’s visual and ecological integrity and allowing race participants to enjoy miles of “emerald green pastures,” rolling forested hills and long stretches of undeveloped river corridor.  With your support we have made significant strides in conserving this magical area, but there is still much work to be done.

If you love the Yampa Valley and Northwest Colorado, please donate today – your support will enable YVLT to preserve more irreplaceable places in this incredible region!

Higby haymeadowThe hay meadow at YVLT-conserved Higby Ranch, looking towards the marathon course on RCR-129.