Après-ski is paramount to the ski experience. For some, après-ski is even the most important part of a ski trip. Recently, we discussed après-ski’s history, which is rooted in Europe. After all it’s a French phrase. However, North America has made après-ski its own, with every region and even ski resort having its own tradition. In some ski towns, like Colorado, skiers congregate at craft breweries. Elsewhere, like California’s Mammoth Mountain, there are full-on après-ski parties.
No matter your choice of beverage or après-ski style, there’s just something about taking part in a ski town’s best après-ski traditions. And we’re here to help you discover the best après-ski bars and parties in North America.
The Best Après-Ski Party
So what and where is the best après-ski party in North America? Well for that, look no further than Mammoth Mountain. Enter Mammoth’s Weekend Après Party, happening every Friday and Saturday on the Canyon Lodge sundeck. Kicking off Christmas weekend, on December 23, and continuing until April, the Weekend Après Party at Canyon Lodge pulls out all the stops. We’re talking a DJ spinning music from an elevated gondola car, giveaways, drink specials, poppin’ of champagne bottles, and more. If you’re lucky, you may even see some crowdsurfing and dancing on tables. Among the event’s sponsors are Red Bull and Yeti, which do giveaways, such as limited edition ramblers when you order one of the cocktail specials.
Mammoth’s Weekend Après Party at Canyon Lodge kicks off at 2 p.m. and goes until 5 p.m., every Friday and Saturday. Holiday weekends get a bonus Sunday Funday après party. The Weekend Après Party continues until April, culminating with the pond skim, making for one heckuva spring après-ski party. Pro tip: Take advantage of the complimentary Village Gondola, which connects the Village at Mammoth to Canyon Lodge.
Check out lodging options at Mammoth.
Continue reading for the best of the rest of North America’s après-ski bars.
The Best Après-Ski Bars in North America
Killington, Vermont’s Wobbly Barn is a bustling post-ski nightclub, live music venue and steakhouse that’s been a winter staple in Central Vermont since 1963. The Wobbly Barn was built from a collection of assorted barn pieces from across New England, and goes big with its big steaks, big salad bar and more. Bonus: There’s free admission to the nightclub when dining at the steakhouse.
Also in Vermont, General Stark’s Pub at Mad River Glen, has been called one of the “World’s Top Après Bars” by Men’s Journal Magazine. The pub’s namesake, General Stark, served as an officer in the British Army during the French and Indian War, and a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The pub serves Vermont craft beer and a hearty pub menu. General Stark’s Pub features a full bar and table service for lunch and après-ski during the ski season. You’ll also find the “Wall of Fame,” where photos of Mad River Glen’s iconic “Ski It If You Can” bumper stickers from around the world are displayed.
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Over in New Hampshire, the motto of Iron Furnace Brewing in Franconia, home to Cannon Mountain Ski Area, is “Beer, Food, Friends.” Founded by former college buddies in 2017, they describe their offerings as “… beers that tend to be hop forward but we still have plenty of variety. “ You can choose from pale ales, stouts, goldens and more. Plus, it’s not just every day that you’ve enjoyed a post-ski beer in a barn.
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The Bag and Kettle at the base of Sugarloaf in Maine is still going strong after 50 years. “Alpine Altitude Ales” include stouts, German lagers, and more, while belly-sticking food includes stews, soups, The Bag Burger, and pizza. The Bag also has a great whiskey list, and often does flight nights featuring specific distilleries from around the world.
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Let’s start in Michigan, where Mount Bohemia’s rustic North Pole Bar and Restaurant has such a nostalgic, old school feeling. Featuring local Keewenaw Brewing Company’s draft beers, the North Pole also serve up crepes as the sweet treat specialty. On Friday and Saturday nights there’s live music. But don’t miss Mount Bohemia’s Log Cabin Italian Bistro, located inside the Nordic Spa. Bring your bathing suit, so afterward you can enjoy U.P.’s largest outdoor hot tub.
Also in Michigan, near Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire, is Short’s Brewing Company, which is considered one of the top breweries in Michigan. They have an extensive list of brews, and a great gastropub menu. Try one of the Short’s Stacks, a selection of loaded toasted sandwiches served with Great Lakes kettle chips. Weekends feature live music from great regional musicians, while Short’s hosts a number of great events, such as their Ugly Sweater Party coming up on December 23.
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In Minnesota at the base area of Lutsen Mountains, Papa Charlie’s Tavern and Stage is the spot. Enjoy great views of the mountains, and play foosball, billiards, and darts. Papa Charlie’s can’t-miss event is the 6th Annual Ski Party, happening the first weekend of January, featuring a fun après-ski party of live music, lodging specials and more.
Out west we start in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which is known for more than skiing and riding. Visit the legendary Mangy Moose, located in Teton Village at the base of the ski area. They want you to know they’ve been around for 50+ years and they’re mangier than ever. The two full bars offer just about anything you could want. Tip from a pro visitor: A must-try are the spicy margaritas, complete with strawberries and pineapple. Live music happens daily.
A trip to Jackson Hole isn’t complete, however, with a visit to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Opening in 1937, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is no ordinary après-ski bar. Saddle up, literally, to the bar lined with saddle bar seats, and enjoy live music just about every night of the year. If you’re looking for a reason to dust off your Western boots, this is it.
We head to Colorado, where Double Diamonds Bar in Steamboat Springs has made USA Today’s list of best après-ski bars in North America 4 years running. It serves craft beers, cocktails, sandwiches, meatballs and more. Go big or go home with the bacon-wrapped tator tots or truffle tots. The partying begins at 4 p.m. and lasts ‘til 2 a.m. Among Colorado’s most revered après-ski bars is TBar, in Breckenridge at the base of Peak 8 and steps from the free BreckConnect Gondola. High-energy DJs spin music every Friday and Saturday, while the bar features elevated takes on classic cocktails, like the Smoked Brisket Bloody Mary and Buttered Up Toddy.
Vail, Colorado is home to so many great après-ski bars, not the least of which is Garfinkel’s. The locally-owned Garfs, as it is known, is located in Lionshead Village, making it a great spot after a day of skiing. The walls inside tell the stories of the past with photos of patrons, athletes, and events gone by. Menus include build-your-own burgers, soups, and specials, such as the Powder Day, which is essentially their version of a grilled cheese and tomato soup. Choose from a wide selection of craft beers, wines, whiskey, and much more.
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Park City’s famous distillery, High West Distillery, is North America’s only ski-in, ski-out distillery. It’s located in a historic livery stable and garage in Old Town Park City, at the bottom of Quittin’ Time ski run and next to the Town Lift. This is an intimate gathering place serving small plates of nouveau Western fare, a full selection of fine wine and spirits, and their own award-winning whiskeys and vodkas. Check out lodging options in Park City.
Once Mammoth’s Weekend Après Party at Canyon Lodge is over, head to Clocktower Cellar, located in the Alpenhof Lodge just across from the Village Gondola. Select from more than 160 whiskeys, 26 beers on tap and 50 different bottles of beer. Their pub-style menu features Bavarian style classics, like schnitzel plates or sandwiches. Clocktower’s atmosphere is divey and casual with a juke box, foosball and pool tables.
With so many incredible Lake Tahoe après-ski bars, it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one. However, Lake Tahoe has no shortage of great après-ski options. In South Lake Tahoe, across from Heavenly’s California Lodge, Himmel Haus is a little taste of Europe with its German bier garden, Bavarian dishes, and overall German vibe. On the north side of Lake Tahoe, one of Tahoe’s most famous après-ski bars, Le Chamois, is located at The Village at Palisades Tahoe. Affectionately known as the Chammy, Le Chamois has been slinging drinks and creating fun vibes for more than 50 ski seasons. Here, it’s all about the “Buddy Pass,” their signature drink deal that comes at a variety of price points and up to $40 in savings.
We round out the best U.S. après-ski bars in Washington, with Crystal Mountain’s Rathskeller-style bar, Snorting Elk Cellar, featuring a roaring fire and 18 local craft beers on tap. During the winter the Snorting Elk is host to a wide range of events and some of the best-themed parties on the mountain, including the Polyesta Fiesta (dust off your polyester digs), retro ski night, and Amateur Ski and Snowboard film night. Wednesday is locals night.
Header image ©Mammoth Mountain/Weekend Après Party at Canyon Lodge