The actual skiing should always be the reason to book a mountain getaway, but there are other factors that go into making a legendary ski trip, well, legendary. One such factor is the ski bar, the place where skiers and snowboarders come together to share the day’s doings over a pint (or three).
Cold beer, loud music and lively locals bring these sacred places to life, adding an element to your ski experience galaxies apart from your regular happy hour scene. After all, if you don’t tell a complete stranger about your day on the slopes at the local watering hole, did it ever really happen?
Good ski bars come in many shapes and sizes, but there are a few that set the bar tab a little higher. Through diligent research, we created a list of our favorite ski bars from across the country. If you find yourself in one of these ski towns, make sure to stop in and raise one up for the best thing on Earth.
The Slot Bar, Squaw Valley, California
Hidden in plain sight within Squaw Valley’s bustling village, The Slot is a departure from the resort party over at the well-known Le Chamois, but it plays host to its own array of shenanigans. Saddle up to the bar (as it is virtually the only seating in the place) and watch ski movies from the early 2000s while sucking back local craft brews. Be careful about heckling the dude hucking the backflips on screen; he might be sitting right next to you. A true Squallywood hangout, The Slot can be funny like that.
The Pickle Barrel, Killington, Vermont
There are few places in the Green Mountain State that offer better live music than the Pickle Barrel, and exactly zero that offer it just minutes from one of New England’s biggest ski areas. The Pickle Barrel’s legendary dance floor heats up every weekend, but it’s also a great place to shake off chilly Bear Mountain laps with a variety of Vermont’s growing craft-brewing industry.
Grizzly Ridge Station, Bridger Bowl, Montana
If you’ve taken on the rough and rowdy terrain of Bridger Bowl just outside of Bozeman, Montana, reward yourself with a stop into Grizzly Ridge Station. Smattered with stickers from ski vagabonds nationwide, the Griz is home to some of the most badass skiers in the country; it’s a place where the drinking might matter more than any ski story you’re willing to share. That being said, it’s easy to make new friends in Big Sky Country, and the Griz is no exception. Make sure to respect your locals and the Griz will become a regular stop on your ski vacations ever after.
The Snorting Elk, Crystal Mountain, Washington
Tucked into the basement of the Alpine Inn, The Snorting Elk feels like a portal into a cozy Austrian village, featuring a tight array of wooden booths, frosty beer pitchers and a blazing fireplace. Northwest powder hounds cap epic days at The Elk, surrounded by locals and Seattleites alike in one humid and happy mass. The Elk has live music on the weekends, but make sure to have a ride on speed dial when the bar shuts down; Crystal has very few on-hill lodging options. Sip wisely, friends.
Grumpy’s, Sun Valley, Idaho
The iconic ski bar of yesteryear, Grumpy’s has weathered generations of skiers and ski bar tabs to remain one of the most sought-after après locations in the United States. Keep your eyes peeled for the “Sorry, We’re Open” sign, order up a schooner and convince a crusty local to tell you about the “good old days,” which, by all accounts, are still in progress.
The Red Onion, Aspen, Colorado
Aspen is considered the party epicenter of the Colorado ski scene, and while the town has many options in the libations department, the party always ends up at The Red Onion. Aspen’s oldest bar, The Red Onion sits just off Main Street, dangerously close to the Silver Queen Gondola, for easy on- and off-mountain access. Order a bear fight, tip your bartender and hold on: You’re in for a long night.
The Funky Red Barn, Sunday River, Maine
Escape the Maine cold and step into a funky good time at The Funky Red, where Maine backwoods meets resort yuppie in the only place that really matters: the dance floor. Featuring regular karaoke and a DJ that knows how to get the crowd moving — hint: it starts with a Geary’s and a shot of Fireball — The Funky Red is just a couple of miles from Sunday River and the go-to for ski bars in the area. Prime-rib night isn’t too shabby either.
Molly Green’s, Brighton, Utah
Utah isn’t exactly known for its bars, but hidden up in Big Cottonwood Canyon is a gem of a ski bar that everyone should try at least once. Nestled in the attic of Brighton’s base lodge, Molly Green’s is an Irish-themed watering hole that serves up a vast array of hot and cold beverages next to its 360-degree fireplace. Don’t let the cozy cottage feel fool you, though: Molly’s throws one of the best St. Patrick’s Day parties in skiing. Consider yourself warned.