Colorado is known as Ski Country USA, with its 28 resorts and hundreds of lifts and thousands of runs supplying winter-time fun to all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
And when the sun goes down — or even earlier for some folks — Colorado becomes Apres Country USA, with a plethora of drinking and eating establishments up and down the Rockies to help you wind down and relive and review your day on the hill.
The following are some of our fave post-ski hangs in the Centennial State. To paraphrase the Old Philosopher, you’ll come for the snow but stay for the apres.
Located in a Victorian-era house filled with eclectic furnishings in downtown Crested Butte, the Stash is famous for its creative pizzas and crazy cocktails. Try The Notorious F.I.G., which recently won the World Championship Pizza Challenge. And wash it down with a Slush Huck, a concoction of bourbon and lemonade topped off with a lemon slice.
The apres party at Arapahoe Basin really happens in the parking lot, but a lot of the frenzy gets started — and sometimes ends — at the tavern in the A-frame lodge. The bar, with its scenic two-story deck, has 20 rotating beers on tap and serves an award-winning bacon Bloody Mary. And on a frigid late afternoon, it’s a damn sight warmer than the parking lot.
Tucked inside the 128-year-old Sheridan Hotel in downtown Telluride, the historic bar oozes old-West rustic elegance with mahogany panelling, filigree loupe, lead glass dividers and the town’s only commercial wood-burning stove. There’s also $5 shots of Jack Daniels and the infamous Flatliner, a potent espresso-and-booze concoction whose name says it all.
About seven miles southwest of central Vail is the town of Minturn. And in the middle of the old railroad-and-mining community sits the Minturn Saloon, which many locals consider the heart of the Vail–Beaver Creek winter sports community. It’s also the official unofficial end of the Minturn Mile, Vail’s legendary out-of-bounds run.
You can almost ski right into this rowdy area at the base of Steamboat, and order a big plate of ski country comfort food (burgers, nachos, etc.). There’s some indoor seating — always good on a inclement day — but most of the action takes place on “The Beach” and it’s outdoor bar carved out of ice.
After tearing up the powder at Purgatory, many skiers and boarders heading back to Durango stop off at this establishment along Highway 550 for its atmosphere — it’s a small place and it can get a bit rowdy — and homemade pizza. Also check out their selection of calzones and baked, not fried, wings. Local SKA Brewing Company supplies a rotation of tap beers.
Hop on Winter Park’s gondola and head up the mountaintop lodge for some live music, small plates and hot spiced wine by the fireplace. You’ll also be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Fraser Valley and the Continental divide and, if you tarry long enough, a late-afternoon, early-evening alpenglow show.