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There’s Something Special About Colorado’s Favorite “Beach”


As Colorado ski areas shut down their winter operations with the pervade of warm weather in the high country, Arapahoe Basin continues to operate for those dedicated to tee-shirt skiing, goggle tanning and parking lot dancing. The Arapahoe Basin “Beach” gives meaning to spring season (a.k.a. parking lot season).

The Beach, which is the bank of flattened snow bordering the edge of Early Riser parking lot and the base of the Molly Hogan and Pallavicini lifts, doubles as the country’s highest parking lot and tailgate at 13,050 ft. Come spring, the Beach is the best place in Colorado Ski Country to enjoy late-season shenanigans.

“The mountain is our ocean and the parking lot is the closest thing we have to a beach”

Looking back on the history of the Beach, not much has changed since the early days. However, since no one is able to pinpoint when the Beach came into existence, we can only guess how our ancestors established the party scene at A-Basin. Was the Beach intentional? Was it naturally occurring? Whose grandmother gifted us the combination of mini-grilling and dizzy bat? No one is certain. Since the Beach predates most of us, we can assume grilling, beer, music, and kicking-back with your ski posse are elements unchanged since the Olden Days. As the Beach organically evolves with time, new traditions emerge, such as sporting your wildest spring flare and participating in the hourly “Sweet Caroline” sing-along.


Tim Finnigan, Mountain Operations Director at A-Basin, reminisces on his early ‘80’s Beach experiences with sentiments such as Pali laps, cold libations, food in the cooler, and tunes in the cassette deck. While I don’t speak jiberish, I’m guessing a ‘cassette deck’ is some kind of ancient music device. Just as the Beach remains true to its roots, many of Finnigan’s Beaching essentials remain the same, even 35 years since his first Beach memories.

Hanging out on the Beach is not exclusive to spring season however. Beach tailgates are just as likely to pop off on a powder-day as a warm, slushy day. “Let’s face it, the mountain is our ocean and the parking lot is the closest thing we have to a beach,” says Finnigan.

“There’s a vibe here like nowhere else”

While après-tailgating is not unique to Arapahoe Basin, the Beach sets precedence for other ski area tailgating scenes. Since the Beach is conveniently located right next to the lifts, it’s an obvious place to hang out. “A-Basin was the first place I skied in Colorado, and when I finally experienced the Beach scene, it was like..oh yeah, this place is something special. There’s a vibe here like nowhere else,” says A-Basin’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Adrienne Saia Isaac.

Since Beach days are particularly popular in the spring, make sure to check out Arapahoe Basin’s website to reserve a space and catch up on the area’s partying guidelines. There are several Spring-related events scheduled throughout the rest of the season, too, such as the 3rd Annual Swimwear Day, two spring rail jams, and spring concerts in the Mountain Goat Plaza. So, don’t throw your skis in storage quite yet because the 2017/2018 season is far from over.