Tailgating On “The Beach” at Arapahoe Basin

Ever think about tailgating with your family while skiing?  The best place to do this is The Beach at Arapahoe Basin.  It’s perfect – especially if you have young and/or inexperienced skiers with you.  Here’s what your day will look like if you decide to try out this adventure!

First off, we usually go with another family so we take two cars up the mountain.  The dads usually get up at 5 a.m. and take a few kids with them to grab a spot when the gates open at 7 a.m. (You can also pay to reserve a spot.)


The best way to get to A-Basin from Denver is to go up I-70 and take Loveland Pass (Highway 6), which is right before the Eisenhower Tunnel, a.k.a. the big tunnel you go through to reach Summit County.  When you first get off the interstate, you will see the Loveland Ski Area which is another favorite of the locals, but keep driving up the mountain.

You will start to see hitchhikers.  Don’t worry!  These are all the backcountry skiers and snowboarders who came down the mountain through the trees in the fresh powder and are hitching a ride back up the mountain for another run.  Keep your eyes open and you can see them coming down through the trees or hiking back up with their gear.

IMG_5850Since all the snowfall plus the backcountry skiing are a perfect combination for avalanches, the park service does a good job with what is called “active intervention.”  You may hear the occasional  rifle shot, but it’s simply the forest service working to prevent avalanches.


Loveland Pass is a beautiful trip over the Continental Divide. As you cross over the summit, you may hit a bit of snow since you’re so close to the clouds.  The day this picture was taken there were huge, fluffy snowflakes falling!

The great thing about The Beach is you can camp out right in front of the “learning hill” which has a magic carpet and small chair lift – both of which are perfect for beginners of all ages. The lower-mountain pass is only $25 (adults) or $15 (ages 6-14.) Best of all, children 5 and under are free!  Here is a view from our car of the learning area:


Have fun hanging out with your friends, put your gear on and take off right from your car!


It’s nice to have the cars handy for a rest or to warm up!


Sometimes we have taken along a camping grill, but PB & J’s work great too!


The lodge, rental/lesson center, etc. aren’t anything fancy…but that’s what I like about it.  The view is gorgeous and it’s nice to be in such a laid-back setting with the locals.

Beach arapahoe basin

The Beach is such a fun atmosphere – music playing, friendly people, dogs chasing Frisbees…

the beach


A-Basin is such a beautiful place!



If you are a serious skier/snowboarder, there is a great bowl on the backside called Montezuma Bowl.  However, I don’t know if I’ll EVER be good enough to try that!


Another great thing about The Beach is that your older kiddos can “ski alone” with their friends all while you can keep an eye on them.  It also seems like they learn better from each other vs. un-cool parents trying to teach them!

Fifth graders

We usually take along our Bernese Mountain Dog, Lola, who is in heaven in the cold! One of the fun things about getting there so early is everyone letting their dogs play in the snow while the sun is rising over the mountain!


And if you’re lucky everyone will be exhausted and sleep the entire way back down the mountain!

sleeping on the way home

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