It’s time for spring picnics on the slopes |

It’s time for spring picnics on the slopes

Warmer weather calls for feasts on the hillsides of Vail and Beaver Creek and beyond

The deck at the top of Strawberry Park affords great views of Beaver Creek and Vail’s Game Creek Bowl.
Tricia Swenson,

Picnics aren’t just for parks. On a warm spring day, the Rocky Mountains provide as welcoming a venue as you can find any other time of the year. Big vistas, sunshine, good food and great friends are the main ingredients needed for a perfect picnic on the slopes.

Picnicking has been a big part of Vail’s history since its early days. Books like “The Inventors of Vail,” “Women of Vail” and “Mountain Vision: The Making of Beaver Creek” refer to picnicking as being a pastime like skiing or hiking. There are a few accounts of how early investors would be driven around in the Kristi snowcat for a tour of Vail and a picnic lunch or learn about plans for Beaver Creek after riding in the IMP, a smaller snow cat, before stopping for lunch on a hillside.

Picnicking has always been in style at Vail. Good food, beverages, great friends and some music adds to the experience.
Colorado Snowsports Museum, Special to the Daily

With spring weather upon us, consider taking a break from skiing or snowboarding by bringing a picnic for your group. Soak up the sunshine and the experience on one of the many decks on Beaver Creek and Vail mountains or create your own seating area. Many photos of the early days of Vail show picnickers getting creative with their skis and poles to create chairs or at least a backrest while enjoying a bite.

What foods hold up best when picnicking on the mountain? As caterer and owner of Colorful Cooking, Tracy Miller suggests wraps.

“Depending on the type of bread you use, sandwiches can get soggy; wraps are my go-to. They hold up really well if you don’t put too many veggies in them. I avoid tomatoes and pickles and opt for raw peppers and lettuce. Store the wraps in Tupperware and you can cut them into various pieces depending on how many people are at your picnic,” Miller said.

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Miller also suggests cutting fruit at home for ease of distribution and if you’re doing a charcuterie board, bring a baguette since it will hold up better than slices of bread.

Come spring, it’s sometimes more about getting horizontal than getting vertical feet. This photo of skiers relaxing is from Mid Vail in 1975.
Colorado Snowsports Museum, Special to the Daily

If you don’t have time to make your own picnic, many restaurants have perfected the takeout meal during the pandemic. The Riverfront Market at the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Avon takes things one step further. They’ve teamed up with Thule to bring you Backpack Meals To-Go for breakfast, lunch and après ski.

Breakfast wraps, lunch sandwiches, cookies, brownies, chips and hummus round out some selections you can choose from when picking out your picnic pack from the menu. Beer and wine spritzers are available as well.

Stop by their convenient location next to the Westin Gondola (No. 7) and head up to Beaver Creek via the Lower and Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express lifts (nos. 15 and 18 respectively). Just remember to return the Thule backpack to the Riverfront Market at the end of the day.

No backpack? No problem! The Riverfront Market at the Westin Riverfront in Avon has ready to eat snacks, sandwiches and drinks ready to go in Thule backpacks.
Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa, Special to the Daily

Decks and picnic areas can be found on both Beaver Creek and Vail’s trail maps. Look for the picnic table icon. Here’s a sampling of decks at the resorts:

Beaver Creek

  • Rose Bowl Deck – Between Spruce Saddle and Rose Bowl, skier’s right of Cinch trail.
  • Race Course Deck – between Bear Trap and 1876 trails below racecourse off of the Centennial Express (No. 6)
  • Stickline Deck – near Centennial and Stickline trails
  • Strawberry Park Deck — below the Strawberry Park Express (No. 12) skiers left of Beaver Creek Mountain Expressway trail.


  • Jebby’s Deck – Skier’s right of Avanti, above the racecourse, easily spotted from Avanti Express (No. 2)
  • Hawk’s Nest Deck – at the top of Northwoods Express (No. 11) and High Noon Express (No. 5)
  • Windows Deck – Overlooks Sun Down Bowl, off of Windows Road trail
  • Steady’s Deck – Skier’s right of Eagle’s Nest Ridge trail and above Lodgepole trail
  • Belle’s Camp – Top of Skyline Express (No. 37) and Earl’s Express (No. 38)
Steady’s Deck is one of the newer decks on Vail Mountain and is named in honor of Dr. Richard Steadman of the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail.
Tricia Swenson,

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