You can always call us to make a reservation or head to our online Calendar and book a trip via our Booking Calendar. Before any of this happens though, especially for first-time guests, make sure you understand all of our ability levels, cancellation policies, 5-to-fly minimums, and other details found on this website. If you need to talk to a human, there are many times when we are on the Pass, in the snow, or just out of reach, and you’ll have to leave a message or email us. We will do our best to return your call by the end of the day. If we cannot, we will connect soon and we appreciate your patience. Call us at 970-879-5188. Email us at email@example.com.
If you cancel your reservation outside of 7-days you will forfeit the 50% deposit. If you cancel within 7-days, you will lose the entire trip cost.
Due to this strict policy, we urge you to purchase activity insurance, available for 10% of the activity cost. This insurance protects the investment you have made into your adventure with us. Our activity insurance is good for all reasons except for Mother Nature, up to 7-days prior to your trip. Within 7-days, this insurance will only allow you to cancel for a medical emergency. A doctor’s note will be required for all medical emergencies.
At the time of booking, we give you 24-hours to think about and pick up the insurance. You will have the opportunity to read about this in the email confirmation that our reservation system will automatically send you. Please check your spam filter if you don’t get this email shortly after your booking. If you wish to pick up the insurance just email us back via that email confirmation or do it online during your checkout process. Once again, you can only pick up the insurance within 24-hrs of making the reservation.
Please understand our strict cancellation policy and respect our mutual commitment. We are reserving space for you and your group; thus we are now turning away potential guests who want those spots.
Your trip is 100% transferable. If you have to cancel and you can find someone else who will fill the space, we will allow for this as long as your replacement comes on the day of your reservation. If we have to refund and then make a new payment to accommodate this new guest, we will do this minus our 10% booking fee.
Please do us all a favor and make sure you review the email confirmation that our system will generate and send to you. Double-check the date, number of guests, and ability level of the day as well as all of our policies and the activity insurance information.
There is no way that you can move forward with a reservation at Steamboat Powdercats and not have read or heard us talk about these policies. So, it should come as no shock to you, when you call us to cancel your trip, that our strict cancellation policies will play into non-refundable payments and you or your group will not be getting a refunded or credited any amount of money in return.
Over the years we have worked with tens of thousands of guests and we hope you understand our policies and respect the non-refundability of your deposit and final payment. If it wasn’t for these policies, our operation would be unable to thrive year after year after year.
If for some reason we have to cancel due to a lack of snow or a mechanical failure to a snowcat prior to your trip date, then we will credit your money to another trip in season based on availability or the following season without any administration fee. If you’d need a refund immediately then we will do so minus a 10% booking fee. FYI – we have a backup snowcat in case mechanical issues happen. It’s more likely that the snow will peter out for us and conditions get less favorable than a cancellation occurring due to a snowcat failure.
Thanks again for your understanding.
Believe it or not, we do cancel due to bad snow. Not every day can be epic, unfortunately. Even though Buffalo Pass is annually Colorado’s deepest snowpack, we can’t control Mother Nature and snow does stop falling, or rain and ice impacts the snowpack and for some reason we have to cancel the trip due to bad snow. This is one of the saddest things we have to deal with. If it’s your trip we are juggling or cancelling due to poor snow conditions we first off are feeling sorrow with you and secondly we really appreciate your patience as Mother Nature certainly plays tricks on us and it’s just not fair.
Most of the time, these cancellations are a last minute situation. Typically it’s the night before or within 3-5 days. But sometimes, when there is no snow in site and we’ve already been cancelling trips, we can cancel outside of the 5-day timeframe based on long term weather modeling.
If we do have to cancel your trip, we have 2 ways that we deal with the monies we’ve collected. Our preferred method is that we reschedule you to sometime later in the season. If we can’t find a date that works, we will ask to just give you a credit of the money and we will keep it on file and it’s good for 2 seasons beyond the season you were originally booked. If neither of these options work for you and you want your money refunded, we will refund your monies collected minus the 10% booking fee that is outlined in your invoice. This booking fee covers the expenses we incurred processing credit cards and handling your reservation. Thanks for understanding.
Check out our Day in the Life page we’ve complied for all your logistics for our trips.
Backcountry snowcat skiing is not recommended for beginner skiers, those who are still in the wedge, or snowboarders who cannot link turns with ease. If you do not ski trees or have never been in the backcountry where it’s deep powder all day, we then urge you to sign up for our Level I – Intermediate snowcat, where your guides will be giving you assistance with gear, some instruction and picking you up out of the snow as necessary.
Our permitted terrain on Buffalo Pass receives snowfall depths in the 500+ inch range every year, so you can expect to ski and ride in fresh if not new powder from late December to the end of March. Buffalo Pass is actually one of the snowiest recorded snowpacks in Colorado on an annual basis.
Runs vary in length from 500 to 1,200 vertical feet and in steepness between 15 and 40 degrees. All of our terrain is technically below tree line and we have north, south, east and west facing aspects which helps keep the snow fresh days and weeks after a storm.
Skiing is done on open snowfields, glades and in our world famous trees. Our goal is to put you onto a fresh turn every turn. On stormy days the skiing generally takes place in or near the trees because the visibility is much better.
You will find that our intermediate and advanced terrain is very similar to the Steamboat Ski Area with mostly black and blue type pitches, nothing crazy steep or extreme beyond measure. The runs are short and sweet and perfectly laid out in the terrain that we have access to.
Our expert terrain is very similar to some of the Chutes and Gates as well as the Fish Creek Canyon backcountry off the top of the Steamboat Ski Area. But, our expert terrain and runs are typically much longer than what you find off the top of the ski area.
Please have a look and bookmark our photo and video blog page where we post daily images from our trips and you can see what type of terrain and conditions we are utilizing on a daily basis.
Also check out all ability level chapters on our website for more detail.
We like to say that you will get 8-16 runs no matter what group you are with. One of the main factors controlling the pace of our day is the speed of the snowcat which runs at a high speed of 13-miles/hour.
Unlike heli skiing where there is a guarantee of a certain amount of vertical footage, we guarantee 8 runs no matter the length. Unfortunately, there are days where a cat may breakdown or the guides decide the snow is to dangerous (such as a rain or air crust) and we have to come off the Pass. If it is your cat that must come off the Pass, we first off appreciate your patience and understanding and secondly we will then credit or refund your trip depending on how many runs we put in prior to coming down. For instance, if we get in 6 runs, we will give a 2 run credit/refund.
We do have a backup snowcat in our fleet so this typically does not happen.
Our trips run with no problems 99% of the time.
We recommend using our Armada specialty powder skis and/or Never Summer snowboards. We make this equipment available to you, it’s included in your trip cost. These are the right tools for the job and we are excited to have you try our boards out whilst you are visiting. If you have your own boards there is not a discount off the daily rate.
Your “skinny” skis undoubtedly perform very well in the conditions typically found at ski resorts, however, in deeper, day long powder conditions, our wider skis and fatter snowboards will typically outperform your ski area skis and boards during your day with us in the backcountry.
If you prefer to bring your own equipment, we strongly encourage you to at least try ours in order to judge the difference for yourself. We are not responsible for any damage to or loss of your personal equipment or gear while you are with Steamboat Powdercats.
We have a variety of sizes of skis and snowboards for you to use during your trip. We also have telemark ski’s for you freeheelers.
PLEASE NOTE: We use Armada MNC bindings which are compatible with all Alpine boots and most AT boots. For those of you with AT boots with non-alpine soles, make sure they are ISO 9523 compliant. If you have AT boots, please see this link to find out in advance if your boots will match our bindings. If you have AT boots that are not compatible with our bindings, you will have to either bring your own skis, rent a new ski from another shop or rent/bring a different pair of boots. Alpine boots are perfect. We apologize for the inconvenience.
We also have poles for everyone here at the office and advise you to use ours. If you bring your poles on the trip and they are lost or broken, even by our snowcat, we will not reimburse you for this loss. Thanks for understanding and using our poles.
Snowboarding can be tricky in the deep, untracked snow. If you have never experienced deep powder off of a groomed resort, you should really consider going in our intermediate Level I tour.
If you are a snowboarder who still has difficulty linking turns then powder riding with us may not be the best choice. Riding in the deep snow can be difficult for those who lack skills linking turns or carrying an edge on a traverse. Please consider this when booking a trip with us.
Our snowcats have a 10-person guest capacity. We have a 5-guest minimum for any snowcat to move, what we call the “5-Fly Rule”.
There will always be 3 guides in the group; a lead and tail guide on every run, and one guide will drive the snowcat up and down the mountain. Also, you will have a photographer meet the cat for a couple runs to document the trip, and you will meet a staff member at our cabin for a midday lunch (Level I and II trips only at the cabin, our Level III cat has lunch in the cat). Please remember to bring you own camera as there may be times when our photographer either cannot make the tour or the camera fails to operate correctly.
We separate groups by Level I, Level II and Level III ability levels and do our very best to match you with other guests who have similar skills. We will match our terrain to fit the needs of each group based on the ability level.
This separation of skills allows intermediate guests the comfort of knowing that you will not have to worry about holding up the more advanced and expert guests. On the flip side, if you are an expert, you will know that there won’t be folks in the cat who are learning how to ski powder and that the group will be capable of handling most, if not all, of our available terrain.
Of course, with any group there will be a faster and slower guest. We just try to bring the gap a bit closer by asking everyone to place themselves in the correct group.
On the Level I trip, the terrain is mellower, has zero to very limited avalanche pitch, so your fears of the “extreme” nature of the trip should be put aside. Level I guests still need to be of a confident blue-black, ski area level skier or rider to really enjoy the day.
If you have never skied with us before, during the reservation process, we will be asking you several questions regarding you and your group’s powder and resort experience and skill levels. Please review your ability levels with your group prior to calling. If you are a repeat guest, typically you will know where you should be placed.
If you are booking a trip for a group, remember to consider the lowest skill level and pick the level in which that person will be most comfortable. Our experiences in booking by skill levels has proved that it is best if you end up in a lower ability level and be the better skill level in the group than being the slower guest or guests in the bunch.
There is a misconception that being in a higher ability level means that your day is going to be better and you will get in more runs with the other levels. This is absolutely not true.
If someone overstates his or her ability level, our guides may restrict that person from skiing certain runs or have them sit out the entire day without any kind of refund. So please, again, be very attentive to ability levels because no one wants to sit in the cat when the skiing and riding is as good as it can be.
Colorado is known for its relatively mild winters but when a storm comes in look out! We get a lot of sunshine when the storms subside, but when it is hidden by the clouds it may be dumping all day long.
Temperatures early in the morning are often around 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius), while average daytime temperatures will be around 22 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius). But, each storm and every day is different.
We have morphed the top Steamboat Springs weather pages for you here on our website. Click here to see our weather page and keep it bookmarked for future use.
We typically go no matter the temperature, even on really cold days. Plan your ski kit based on how you would prepare to ski and ride at any ski area experience. We do have room in the cats to stash a small bag with extra goggles, sunglasses, neck gaiter, or other layers.
When making a reservation for 2 or more people, we require that the group leader pay for all those whom he or she is making the reservation for. If the group leader is not interested in paying the 50% deposit and the final payment for those in the group, then the group leader needs to have all other interested parties initiate the reservations on their own. We will not hold space for your group if everyone is booking individual seats. Group leaders may also coordinate credit cards for others in the party and provide those for our reservation team at the time of booking.
When booking a private cat, we require 1 credit card for the entire invoice. As a trip leader your are in charge and will be reimbursed by those guests you bring along. If one of your guests cancels, then you must collect the cancellation fee or find another guest to fill their space. If you cannot find a guest, we do carry a waitlist and will help fill the space for you. No guarantees that we can help but we love it when we can do our part. Try to fill your space first, then contact us regarding a possible fill in from the wait list.
We finalize payments 7-days prior to your trip. You do not need to call us, we will just run the credit card on file.
You can book all your own reservations online via our Booking Calendar link here. We assume when you book a reservation online that you have reviewed all of our cancellation policies and you understand and agree to all terms we have set up.
Calling us, as well, to place a reservation is fine. 970-879-5188
Obviously the main reason your are coming to visit us is for the powder. Basically, the sooner you come after a storm the deeper it is going to be. If you are one of the lucky ones who hits it right and arrives during a storm cycle, hold on tight because it could be the deepest day of your life.
If you visit us in time of drought, we will still find fresh snow for you. We like to say that 3 days after a storm, the snow settles and conditions will be boot depth and fresh for most every turn. Come 7 days after a storm and beyond, there will be tracks at the pick ups and drop offs in most of our terrain; but, there should be enough freshies in the middle of the runs to still provide a solid powder tour.
We do not guarantee fresh snow, but a backcountry experience. We will go no matter the conditions unless they are so challenging that we cancel the trip. If for some reason Mother Nature throws us a curveball and we have to cancel due to snow conditions (think ice storms), we will issue a credit (full credit good for 2 years) or a refund (minus a 10% booking fee). This is typically a last minute scenario where we have to cancel the night before or a couple days out based on existing conditions and a non-favorable forecasts. Please be extra patient with our efforts when, or if, we ever have to deal with this type of Mother Nature scenario with you.
Most of our guests will book their trip months prior to arrival. With 70% of these guests returning back to us, they know that no matter the day, our conditions on Buffalo Pass are going to be fresher than at any ski resort.
Steamboat Powdercats ski season begins in mid-December. By this time, most regular ski areas in Colorado have already been open for a few weeks. The reason that we wait this long to begin our season is to be sure that a sufficient amount of snow has fallen to offer you the powder you are expecting. Some of our deepest days have been in December as the base in the snowpack has yet to set up. Also, the cold temperatures of December allow for very light powder snow conditions.
There are years when we don’t get enough snow in November and December to open up on time. If this happens, we will let you know, and work to either reschedule you in our season or provide a 100% credit good for up to 2 years. If you need a refund, we will do so minus our 10% booking fee.
In January, we open our expert terrain typically by the 15th. We will only run 2 cats prior to this and those Level III guests who wish to visit before this time need to know that our steeper terrain may not be available to you. We will explain this when you book an early season Level III trip. January is typically still very cold and the powder is usually super light. With cold temps, this allows our northern aspects to retain their dryness and keep very soft days after a storm.
In February, we will see 40% of our seasonal clients. It is our busiest time due mostly to the travel schedules of our guests and those planning their ski trips out West. February is a great time to visit. Storms are typically consistent, usually, and colder winter temperatures are often the case. But, with our climate weirding, we have seen temps in February sky rocket and cook the snow. We will still go out on our tours, typically, no matter the air temperatures or snow conditions.
Steamboat’s famous light, deep powder generally continues to fall into March. Anytime in March, we can get hammered by snow, but also, once the sun comes out, things warm up quickly and March offers us with more spring like conditions than other months. Spring skiing and riding offers a variety of snow conditions from corn snow on south facing slopes to powder on north facing slopes.
Keep an eye on our photo and video blog as this webpage was built specifically to keep you up to date with how our conditions are behaving on a daily basis.
Yes. Please realize that for our cats to operate, we require a five person minimum (5-Fly Rule). When making a reservation as an individual or a group of less than five, if we do not reach the five guest minimum prior to your scheduled day, we may have to switch your day, merge you into another cat or give you a full refund of your money. Please review our real time calendar on this site or contact us prior to your trip to see if there are any difficulties in reaching this minimum requirement.
If for some reason we cannot accommodate your trip due to this 5-Fly Rule, we will refund all of your deposit money.
If a mechanical breakdown occurs to one of our snowcats during or before your trip, we apologize in advance as this is never something that we wish to have happened. Your patience is critical here as breakdowns do happen. We will do our best to fix the problem before and/or on-site and may need to shuffle you and your group around to our backup cat while our broken-down cat is being fixed.
In extreme cases, if we were to have 2 snowcats break down, we may utilize our Safari Cat to help finish out the day. Our Safari Cat is a no-frills, limited heat, back up snowcat that has school bus type seats, and a tent-like cover. This Safari Cat will not slow down or impede the skiing or snowboarding during your trip. We believe the experience, though different, will still be satisfying and enjoyable.
If we have to use the Safari Cat with your group and know ahead of time, we will let you know as soon as we can. More than likely, this will be the day prior to your trip. At the time of notification, we will give you the option to cancel your trip without any cancellation fees. If you still plan to come and experience our day together in the Safari Cat there is no discounting for you or your group.
We also may have to require your group to ski down and off Buffalo Pass before our traditional 4:00 pm timeframe. We guarantee 8 runs per day. We average 10-14 runs, but guarantee 8 no matter the length of the run. If your cat breaks down during your day and we cannot reach our 8 run minimum then we will divide however many runs you completed by 8 and credit or refund you the runs that you were owed.
Dress as you would for any day at a resort. Wearing several layers of insulating garments underneath a shell gives you the freedom to adjust your clothes to changing weather conditions. One-piece ski suits are a good choice for powder skiing if you have one but not necessary.
Our heated snowcats keep you out of the elements when moving to and from each pick up to drop off providing a closed in, comfortable environment to rewarm yourself if cold.
For those of you who need to bring a pack to store your layers or other essentials, we ask to pack small and light. There is room in our cats to stash items, but if all 10 of our guests brought a pack, things would get cluttered quickly.
Beyond your normal ski kit, bring a water bottle of some sort as well as a mask. For the 2021/22 season we will once again require masks to be worn in our facilities and snowcats.
We provide you with skis or a snowboard, poles and an avalanche beacon. We will also take care of the avalanche probes and shovels that we issue in two guest packs that the last 2 guests will wear on every run.
We do not provide or rent ski or snowboard boots.
You can bring your own ski or snowboard as well as your own beacon. If you bring a beacon make sure it has at least 40% of its battery life remaining. Your guides will double check this at our AM meeting.
We ask you to use our poles, ones with big baskets that will not fall through our racks on the back of our cats or in our vans. If you bring your own poles, we are not responsible for them (or any of your personal gear) in case they are damaged, broken or lost.
In addition, will provide and a snack for you in the cat, plus a simple breakfast snack and copious amounts of coffee, plus a full catered lunch. You should bring your own water bottle (we have refills), sunscreen, goggles, and sunglasses. Wearing a helmet is not a bad idea and you should consider purchasing one prior to your next ski vacation, but we do not require that you wear one. As storage space in the snowcats is limited, we ask you not to bring your own backpack but to share one with your group if you need to bring additional items along for the day.
If you have AT style ski boots, we use Armada MNC bindings which are compatible with all Alpine boots and most AT boots. For those of you with AT boots with non-alpine soles, make sure they are ISO 9523 compliant. If you have AT boots, please see this link to find out in advance if your boots will match our bindings. If you have AT boots that are not compatible with our bindings, you will have to either bring your own skis, rent a new ski from another shop or rent/bring a different pair of boots. Alpine boots are perfect. We apologize for the inconvenience.
We have restrooms in our office which is located near the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. In addition, there is is a US Forest Service vault toilet at the parking lot where our cats are staged at Dry Lake, as well as a porta potty at our mid-mountain cabin.
While with us on the snowcats, we will make for a “ladies room” in front of the snowcat to provide necessary privacy. Though this isn’t the most glamorous of bathrooms, it is our best option and works out fine. Guys, you can pee most anywhere, just make sure to cover up the yellow snow so we don’t have to see where you’ve been peeing. And, don’t pee on our snow stake at our cabin, please.
When booking a private cat there is no age limit, unless you are going into our Level III terrain where we have a minimum age of 14.
When booking into a Level I or Level II non-private cat, the age limit is 12 if accompanied by a parent or guardian.
When booking into a Level III non-private cat, the age limit is 14.
For all young guests who are coming solo, the age limit is 16 years old.
Yes, we have a photographer in our terrain every day on our snowcats who will do their best to capture images of every guest ripping in some fresh snow. You can access all of these images via our Photo Page where you can purchase a high-resolution gallery download for $50 and single images for $5.
On our Photo Page we also sell wall art like float mounts and large canvas art, MetalPrints, traditional prints, photo books, and other keepsakes like coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, puzzles, coasters, etc. These are all great gift options for you in the future.
We improvise our photo shoot, trying to not slow down or interrupt the flow of your day. We attempt to get several action shots, face shots, and group shots for every cat, and every guest. If for some reason, we did not get a good photo of you while you were on your trip, we apologize in advance and hope you understand that not everyone will get that epic shot as we do not really set up the shots.
We always suggest that you bring your camera or phone just in case our photographer has to be pulled from their duty to help with a rescue or logistical situation. Also, if our photographer’s camera malfunctions or images are accidentally erased, you will then have some of your own to document the trip by. Our photography is never guaranteed.
We also provide full video production service as well if you want. This is on a reservation basis only so you must call to prearrange a videographer for this service. This is a great option for a private cat or a small group. We will provide you with an edited-down video with still shots intermixed. This is a very custom option.
If you have special dietary requirements, please indicate this at the time of booking or at a latest the day prior to your trip.
You will be sent an auto email confirmation at the time of your booking as well as a week out and 72-hour email prior to your tour date. In these emails there is a link to “manage your activity” where you can add in any diet restrictions, along with medical issues, names and cell phone numbers of you and your guests. Click here to access our backend guest portal.
Our caterer will make every effort to accommodate your needs. We can accommodate most requirements including but not limited to vegetarian, seafood, lactose, gluten free, shell fish, pork or others.
If you need to be contacted during your day with us, the office can relay messages to you via your guide’s radio. This communication channel is for emergency use only and offers no privacy. Cellular telephones do not work reliably in our terrain, but try this option first. At most of our drop offs there is cell phone coverage.
Please note that a fuel surcharge may be added to our published rates, at the time before your final payment, 72-hours prior to your trip. A surcharge of $10-$20, at the most, may be added if changing fuel economies dictate. You will be notified prior to final payment if this occurs. We ask for your patience and understanding if fuel costs fluctuate to the point where a fuel surcharge may be added.