Trees in the Park

Steamboat Springs trees

The Park has almost 200 coniferous trees (cone-bearing) of 16 different species and 300 deciduous trees (lose their leaves in winter) of 20 different species.

The Park is in an environment that is challenging for trees because:

  • Temperatures occasionally get down to minus 40 degrees, Fahrenheit and Celsius.
  • Heavy snows bury young trees and bend older ones.
  • Steamboat gets 27 inches of precipitation in an average year but much of this is lost to evaporation because of low humidity at high altitude.
  • There is less protective atmosphere than at sea level and therefore much more ultra-violet light.

Native trees that have adapted to this harsh environment are the predominant trees in the Park. The largest populations among the Park's evergreens are:

  • Lodgepole pine 53
  • Colorado blue spruce 27
  • Douglas fir 26
  • Engleman spruce 21
  • Ponderosa pine 21

Engleman spruces naturally live above 9,000 feet at this latitude, while ponderosa pines naturally live in a drier climate on the East side of the divide but both species will live here when planted. In addition the Park has other pines, spruces and firs native to neighboring environments that will tolerate our climate.

Pinyon pines are prolific in the southern parts of this county but they will not tolerate the heavy snows of the Steamboat area.

Yampa Valley Trees

The largest populations among the deciduous trees are:

  • Quaking Aspen 129
  • Narrowleaf cottonwood 55

Some of the native cottonwoods were growing on the land before the Park was built and were saved. There are some non-native crab apples that have been cultivated to withstand a rigorous climate as well as native birches, alders, choke cherries and service berries.

Many trees get unintentionally watered when flowers and grasses are irrigated, sometimes more than they would prefer.

As of Spring 2014, 43 evergreen trees and 92 deciduous trees have been sponsored.