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April 7, 2012
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Eat, Drink, Play: A-Basin pairs summer fun with winter sports

The balmy weather and longer days that mark early spring have the same affect in the High Country that they do everywhere else.

So locals and visitors must be forgiven for being unable to resist the temptation to turn the parking lot of a local ski area, normally a sacred stronghold of winter-sports culture, into a combination beach/tailgate party in the spring.

Beachin' at the Basin is as reliable as it is unofficial. Without any prompting from ski area management, skiers and snowboarders regularly claim parking spaces along the slope-front property of Arapahoe Basin's Early Riser parking lot for summer-style parties.

"It's like being on the beach, without an actual body of water, and the snow is the sand," A-Basin spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer said. "It's nothing we have created. It's just something that has happened since A-Basin's been open."

Skiers and snowboarders park along the snow-sand beach, crank up their car stereos, set up tents and grills and enjoy a day of picnicking, tailgating, drinking, Frisbee, volleyball, tanning and, paradoxically, skiing and riding.

Dogs are welcome as well, as long as they're leashed, A-Basin representatives say.

"There's no particular day," Hierholzer said. "It could happen any day, but most people come up on the weekends and spend the whole day just hanging out on the beach."

The most dedicated tailgaters sometimes arrive as early as 6 or 6:30 a.m., when the parking lot gates open, to grab the best beach-side real estate. Those who plan ahead can reserve most sought-after parking spaces closest to the base area, with the ski area for parties.

Food is available on site from the nearby A-Frame.

The Legend once allowed overnight camping, but these days beach-goers and tailgaters have to vacate the property at 6 p.m.

This weekend A-Basin's beach party will, of course, have an Easter theme, with visits from the Easter Bunny and an egg hunt for children on the snow, on Molly Hogan at noon for kids who are not skiing and on Wrangler at 1 p.m. for those who are. Approximately 2,000 eggs will be filled with candy and toys.

The beach is a ski in, ski out area, adding to its appeal. While it's not an official slow zone, the ski area does have a banner up warning skiers and snowboarders there are "kids at play," Hierholzer said.


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The Summit Daily Updated Apr 8, 2012 12:02AM Published Apr 7, 2012 11:58PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.