Best Ski Beaches
Springtime is here—which is, in our opinion, when the best of all worlds converge. You get the world’s greatest sport, skiing, combined with the world’s greatest pastime, soaking up the sun with your people.
Welcome to the “ski beach,” replete with frisbee, beers, brats, tunes, and roving packs of dogs.
Make your plans now, because part of what makes the ski beach so special is that it is so ephemeral, and don’t forget the sunscreen. Here are our picks on the best places to hit the ski beach, either this spring or next.
The Beach, Arapahoe Basin, Colo.
Cross spring skiing with the classic American tailgate party and you have The Beach at A-Basin. Photo: Arapahoe Basin
We have to give this low-key anti-resort the No. 1 spot in this roundup. First, the place stays open until June—sometimes even July. With the highest base elevation in the country—12,456 feet—A-Basin is the last to melt, with snowfields at the summit often persisting all summer long. Combine that with a free parking lot that backs up straight onto the slopes, and you have what may be the original (and best) ski beach in North America. You can reserve the coveted slopeside parking spots in advance, or just leave it up to luck and take your chances in the potholed dirt lot. Lap the Pali chair and get your fill of slush bumps, and then swing by your car and crew for grilled and bratwursts, beer, and tunes. Invite your own folks or just bring something to share—folks are pretty friendly around these parts.
Deer Valley, Utah
Snag yourself a lounge chair at the bottom of Silver Lake Village and a drink at Stein Erikesn Lodge. Photo: Deer Valley
Known for its manicured slopes, insane salad bar, and super helpful staff, Deer Valley’s beach scene is expectedly a little more upscale. Think Malibu compared to A-Basin’s Jersey Shore. Snag a white lounge chair set up like those on a cruise ship deck at the bottom of Silver Lake Village, wander over to the deck at Stein Eriksen Lodge for some killer cocktails, or head over to the St. Regis Deer Valley for some pool-side action. While you’re at the St. Regis, be sure to check out the Vintage Room, a 1,600-square foot restaurant that feels like a Hollywood living room built completely from glass. (It’s right off Deer Hollow run overlooking the hot tubs.) It’s not cheap, but it sure is nice.
Mt. Bachelor, Ore.
Every good beach day deserves a yeti skimming across a pond. Mt. Bachelor's Sunchaser Spring Festival, Mt. Bachelor. Photo: Ski Magazine
Perhaps the locals are so deprived of sun all winter (they get nearly 500 annual inches of powder), or maybe it’s because there’s so much great local beer to quaff in the sun. Whatever the case may be, when the sunshine finally comes out, Bachelor revels in it from first chair to last call. With weekend-long Sunchaser Spring festivals through the end of May (yes, that’s almost June) and a special spring pass for less than the cost of a single day ticket at Vail, springtime is Bachelor’s best season. Bachelor also prides itself on its soulful charm, which includes 40 sites for RV campers (or VW buses, Sprinter Vans, or even Subarus with seats that fold down) as its “slopeside lodging.” This also means the tailgate scene is all-time, with an outdoor party welcome to all. The resort even hosts RendezVan concerts to celebrate spring and van life. It’s a total blast.
Cloud 9, Aspen Highlands, Colo.
Ain't no party like a Cloud 9 party. Photo: Aspen/Snowmass
OK, to be fair, to call the après scene at Aspen Highlands’ midmountain Cloud 9 a “beach” might be stretching it. Except for the topless part, anyway. The former patrol shack is now home to the rowdiest après party in the States, and, come spring, when you can sit comfortably on the deck overlooking the Maroon Bells and eat raclette while the buzz builds, it’s downright enchanting. If you believe the rumor, which we do, the record number of Veuve Clicquot bottles that have been sprayed on the crowd and all over the old rafters during a single day is 140, with each costing $125 a pop. (Cloud 9 is the No. 1 account for Veuve in the country—and it’s only open four months a year.) We’re not sure if being soaked in champagne is the impetus for the toplessness (seems to us that it might be the other way around), but whatever the case may be, Cloud 9 is a springtime destination worthy of your bucket list.
Gorrono Ranch, Telluride, Colo.
It doesn't have to be the spring to enjoy the beach in Telluride. Photo: Telluride Ski Resort
At Wagner’s home hill of Telluride, when locals say, “the beach,” they mean the sprawling hill of Adirondack chairs outside Gorrono Ranch, right under Village Express Lift 4. The ranch itself is an historic Basque sheep herder’s barn, built in the 1880s. In the winter, it serves as the main dining venue for skiers, and come spring, well, it’s where everyone meets up to cheers a beer (or three) in the warm Colorado sun. Two bars—the Saloon and the Outpost, both historic buildings as well—keep the libations flowing, and live music give it a chill island vibe. Don’t forget to take a photo with iconic Mt. Wilson in the background.
Article by Kimberly Beekman
Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the title of “freelancer” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Steamboat, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.