How to Have a Successful Après Ski Tailgate

How to Have a Successful Après Ski Tailgate

As every ski bum can attest, there isn't much better than coming back to your car after a long morning (or day) on the slopes, taking off your gear, popping open the cooler, and firing up the grill. Many of us at Turtle Fur have been living the ski life since we were toddlers, and no matter how old you are, an après ski tailgate is a great way to unwind, relax, and closeout another amazing winter's day.

For someone newer to tailgates - maybe the après ski bar is more your scene, or it's your first season skiing or riding - there are lots of tricks of the trade. From the best meals to make, packing lists, and must-have items, we've got you covered.

*Note: Due to COVID-19, many resorts are NOT allowing tailgating in their lots. Check your resort rules before making any plans. If your resort lots are closed to tailgating, consider having a similar experience with family at home - either outside or inside. 


What is an après ski tailgate?

You've seen tailgating on TV at football games and sporting events, but at the mountain? It's not something so widespread. Parking lot tailgates are essentially the same - but rather than a preamble to cheering on your favorite team, you're posting up at your car with snow boots and cozy accessories, winding down or taking a break from some time spent on the slopes.

Parking lot tailgate, ski tailgate 


5 tips on how to have the best après ski tailgate

1. Preparedness is key

Making a packing list is always a good place to start. You don't need much, but as you're also going to have yourself, your friends/family, and your ski gear in the car, it does help to make a list, and pack what you can the night before. Some good things to have:

- Lawn chairs
- Bluetooth speaker *Pro tip: Download a couple playlists to your phone - ski resorts don't always have the best cell service, especially in parking lots.

- Trash and recycling bags (two colors)
- Food
- Beverages *Always have water!
- Plates, paper towels, utensils
- Koozies
- Optional: grill, camp stove, oven mit, camping blankets, beanies

    If you're packing the night before, it's pretty easy to get the equipment in the car, and maybe even pack the cooler with beverages and ice. As for food, have everything you can prepped and in the fridge or on the counter, ready to go in the morning.

    Tailgating, ski tailgating 


    2. Tried and true meals & snacks

    We asked around at the Turtles' Nest to get some employee all-time favorites:

    - Cheesy Bratwurst with brown mustard
    - Marinated Venison
    - Burgers
    - Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on an English Muffin
    - Lamb Kebobs
    - Perogies *Pro tip: Do these inside a foil pack on the grill
    - Pulled pork
    - Chili


      Now the main meal is obviously the most important, but you can't forget sides.

      - Chips
      - Cookies or brownies
      - Cornbread
      - Pasta salad (easy to make the night before, and doesn't need reheated!)
      - Buffalo chicken dip 
      - Taco dip
      - Candy (m&m's come highly recommended)
      - Veggies and dip


        And finally, don't forget the cooler full of your favorite beverages! Make sure to always have plenty of water bottles, in addition to the fun drinks - sodas, beer, juice boxes, etc.


        3. Parking

        Perhaps you're hoping for first chair, so you make an early arrival at the lot. This most likely means you'll get first access and the best spot in the house. Plus, there's nothing wrong with starting your tailgate on the earlier side. Some hot coffee or cocoa and a breakfast sandwich on the grill are never a bad idea, and what better way to start your day at the mountain than by eating a hearty breakfast and planning what trails you want to explore that day?

        Other things to consider with parking: Is it just your car, or is this a multi-car tailgate with family or friends? If it's a multi-car tailgate, you'll want to meet up with the other cars a couple miles down the road and caravan up to the lots together, so you get spots right next to each other (or end-to-end)

        And of course, make sure you don't back in to your spot. You'll want easy access to the trunk so that you can use that as part of your real estate.


        4. Dress appropriately

        beanies, ski hats

        This should go without saying. If you're heading to the mountain, you more than likely checked the weather the night before. But the après ski parking lot experience leaves a bit extra to be considered. 

        Perhaps you worked up a sweat on the slopes. You're not going to want to stand around in wet, sweaty clothing, so consider bringing some backup layers - think hoodies, quarter-zips, and socks. 

        You'll also want to make sure you have a few extra beanies in the car. If you wear a helmet, you most likely don't plan on rocking your balaclava all afternoon (or your helmet hair), so a beanie will take care of both problems, while keeping you warm.

        Finally, it's always a good idea to throw in some hand warmers and fleece blankets. Unless you hit that perfect, spring skiing, bluebird sky day, someone is bound to get a little chilly just standing around. No one enjoys being cold after a day on the slopes, so you can easily solve that problem with the right gear and accessories.


        5. Know resort rules

        Whether you're opting for an early morning tailgate, or plan to wrap up your day with some après adventures in the parking lot, you'll want to know your resorts rules in regards to tailgating, open cans, and parking lot hours. Definitely check these rules out in advance, before totally prepping for your day. Realizing you have to close up shop early because the lot is closing is a sure-fire way to ruin your big plans.

        tailgating, parking lot tailgating 


        Finally - and this is true wherever you go - make sure that whatever you pack in, you pack out. This goes for trash, recycling, leftovers, handwarmers, etc. Leave nothing behind so that we can continue to keep our parks and resorts clean and clear, so that people can continue to enjoy the slopes and ski bum life for years to come!