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Where to Find 'The Beach' on the Ski Slopes of Colorado

Where: 28194 US Hwy 6 [map], Keystone , Colorado , United States
December 20, 2013 at 1:04 PM | by | Comments (0)

A few weeks ago, we took a weekend trip into the mountains outside of Denver to partake in some cross country and downhill skiing. It was on the day of our downhill adventure that we hit a snag, something we think happens to a lot of groups: One person, whether it's due to ability, interest, or finances, decides they aren't going to ski that day, and are left to their own devices vices at the lodge bar. It's not a terrible scenario -- ski lodges are great -- but had we gone to Abasin, our friend could have simply hit the beach.

Abasin -- short for Arapahoe Basin -- is located in Summit County, right down the road from resorts like Keystone and Breck. You won't find any fancy village at Abasin -- it has remained small and towny, attracting mostly local riders due to the fact that it does not have lodging on site. Despite that, it has one of the best ski-and-be-social scenes in all of Colorado thanks to a tailgating area known as "the Beach," one where you can smell the grill from the lift.

While people race to be the first in lift lines at most ski areas on a powder day, visitors to Abasin show up early to grab one of the free first-come, first-serve parking spots in front of the lifts, collectively known as "The Beach." There are also 10-15 paid spots (starting at $100) that can be reserved in advance and have room for two vehicles and include a picnic table.

So why do skiers and snowboards rush to get these parking spots? Because on weekends and powder days, the slope-side parking turns into a big party. Instead of popping into the lodge for breaks, groups bring their own grills and beer coolers and kick back at the Beach, where they have a great view of the mountain and indulge in a tailgating scene very similar to what you would find at a sporting event.

We love this not only as a way to save money during a ski day (food and bev can be pricey at ski areas), but for the true community feel it creates as groups hang out long after the lifts have closed for the day. For those that prefer to come in out of the cold for a few minutes, the 6th Alley Bar & Grill underwent a $1 million renovation this summer. And if you grab a lift ticket from Liftopia, you can get a free bacon bloody mary to warm you up.

[Photos: Flickr]

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