I know Why Not is the longest run, but which trails would give me the longest amount of riding time without getting on a lift? Can you get to Why Not from Sunshine Peak without taking a lift?
Yes, it is possible, but involves a lot of "cat tracks"; roads that were built in the early days to cut trails and build lifts.
From Sunshine Peak, turn left and head towards Cowboy Coffee on Traverse. But at the top of Cowboy Coffee, turn left onto Storm Peak Catwalk, not right onto Cowboy Coffee. This will take you onto Storm Peak South. If you really want to take Why Not, then at the bottom of Storm Peak South, take Rainbow down to the saddle. Rainbow saddle is a flat spot at the junction of Rainbow, Moonlight, Skyline, and Park Lane. Park Lane (a half-right turn; a full right turn keeps you on Rainbow) will take you to Why Not. To me, a more enjoyable path would be to stay on Rainbow until you get to Ego (where Rudi's Run/Lightning feed in from the gondola). To the left there is Flat Out, which will take you to the junction of Why Not, Vagabond, Betwixt, and So What. Pick up Why Not here, and it will feed you eventually to Right-O-Way, to the bottom.
Storm Peak Catwalk and Storm Peak South are rated black, Rainbow is blue, and everything else is green. (The Catwalk is only rated black because you can't get to any other trail but Storm Peak Sout; the Catwalk itself is not bad).
If the longest possible run is your goal, this is about it. Otherwise, you can take any of the runs down from Storm Peak South, continue past the Storm Peak Express and Pony Express lifts, to BC Ski Way, which will also feed you to Right-O-Way, if your goal is simply to get from Sunshine Peak to the bottom without using a lift.
Thanks! Im taking my family to Steamboat next week and it is all our first time in Colorado.