Memorial Day Boat Rentals at Steamboat Lake
Memorial Day weekend in the mountains at 8,100 feet above sea level. During the past 2 decades that I have been renting boats at Steamboat Lake, the weather has been anything except for consistent. The weather is completely different than Denver and different than even down the road in Steamboat Springs. Steamboat Lake is at 8,100' and the top of the Steamboat Ski area gondola is 9,080' and the town of Steamboat Springs is 6,732'. The weather at Steamboat Lake is more like the top of the gondola than it is around the town of Steamboat Springs. The mountain peaks that surround Steamboat Lake are all around 10,800' and Steamboat Lake is at the base of all of these mountains.
The punchline is that Steamboat Lake does not get the same weather as Steamboat Springs and certainly not the same as the front range of Colorado. I say this because every year there are people that just haul their boat up to Steamboat Lake to go fishing or try out their new boat and they find that the lake still has ice. Just yesterday, May 7th, I was driving in front of someone that was pulling their new boat up and was forced to turn around because the lake was covered by ice, at least 90%. Please check conditions before coming up to Steamboat Lake.
This ice also means that the boats that Steamboat Lake Marina rents to people that come up from Steamboat Springs or Denver, are not in the water yet. In fact, the snowmobiles are still filling up the parking lot and there are 6' snow banks and the winter of 2021 was only 80-85% of a normal snow year. Please check local conditions before coming up. Cherry Creek and Chatfield have been renting boats for several weeks, because they are 3,000' lower than Steamboat Lake.
The weather on Memorial Day weekend... I have seen every kind of mountain weather that you can imagine on the first weekend of summer. In 2011, there was so much snow on Memorial Day, that I walked from the parking lot to the top of Marina roof on snow. The snow from the roof was connected to the snow on the ground and I was able to easily walk straight up. The ice didn't melt that year until June 15. In 2004 the snow levels were very low and the snow and ice melted very early and I was able to launch all of my boats by May 3. In 2004 there were violent thunderstorm on Saturday than included hail and high winds. In 2004, it snowed 6" on the docks on the morning of July 4th.
I reviewing Memorial Day weekend over the past 18 years, the weather was inconsistent almost every year. It snowed or rain or thunder stormed more that 10 times, completely snowed-in once and only really nice 2 or 3 of those years. If you time it correctly then that is awesome, being on the lake when the sun is warm and the mountains are full of snow is quite an amazing experience.
The best advice I have for experiencing Steamboat Lake in the spring, is to be prepared. Bring shorts and sunscreen and winter pants and a warm jacket, sometime you need both on the same day.