ARAPAHOE BASIN — Nothing beats a bluebird spring day at The Beach, Arapahoe Basin’s pre- and post-slope hot spot in the ski area’s Early Riser parking lot at the base of the mountain.
“The Beach has taken on a life of its own over the years,” said Adrienne Saia Isaac, A-Basin marketing and communications manager. “Not only is the view from the base area gorgeous, but you’re close to the lifts and it’s free — slopeside parking isn’t usually cheap these days, let alone free.”
Claim your sand
There are 10 to 15 parking spots that guests can reserve by paying in advance, Isaac said, and all others are free and first-come, first-serve. Reservations are made at arapahoebasin.com or by calling guest services at 888-ARAPAHOE. Price per spot starts at $100 and varies according to the time of the season and day of the week.
“On the weekends and in the spring, The Beach can fill up by 9:30 a.m.,” Isaac said. “If you’re dead set on snagging a Beach spot, I suggest getting there early.”
The A-Basin parking lots open around 7 a.m., she said. Each reserved spot has room to park two vehicles and comes with a picnic table.
Soaking up the scene
“The vibe is super chill, and people are there to barbecue hard and ski harder,” Isaac said. “When my friends are up here to ski or ride, at least one car pulls up to The Beach and it becomes our home base for the day. There’s nothing like ripping down International to your car and then soaking up the afternoon sun.”
A variety of groups come to play, everything from kids’ birthdays to wedding receptions to costume parties.
For nearly a decade, Jay Donato, of Arvada, has organized a Beach party every season called “Drinko de Mayo,” usually in the first week of May near the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo. He said as many as 130 people have participated in the annual gathering.
“We could always go up and get a free spot, but then you have to rush up there for it,” he said. “We always reserve at least one spot and bring a 10-by-20-foot tent, a full-size grill, at least 100 buffalo burgers and hot dogs, and we bring up a keg.”
Donato also recommends bringing chairs, music, shot skis, a donation jar to help offset costs and crazy stuff to wear.
“We have had everything from sun to snow,” he said. “We have had powder days and nice warm days, so it kind of varies from year to year.”
If you have kids, Isaac suggests parking in front of the Molly Hogan chairlift for a great place to watch their lessons and keep walking with gear to a minimum.
Isaac said it’s important for visitors to clean up after their groups, to recycle when they are able and to keep in mind that The Beach is for everyone to enjoy.
“We ask that everyone be respectful of other guests and of this incredible mountain environment,” she said. “Usually, our guests are awesome about maintaining a fun, yet controlled atmosphere down there. The Beach is just one component of what makes this place legendary.”
Vail Daily interim A&E Editor Kim Fuller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.