Spring Tailgating Tips: Where to Go, What to Bring + How to Slay Après
Kelty March 18, 2022

By Staci Amend

Maybe it’s just us—but as the ski season starts to wind down, the whole vibe is less about first tracks and last light than it is about pure pleasure. Now, with Spring Break just around the corner and plenty of late-season dumps to slappa-da-base, it’s time to up your après ski game…and your friends at Kelty are here to help. We asked our resident parking lot pariahs to round up their ideal winter tailgating gear, and cook up some perfect food + drink pairings for their favorite après ski spots. Here are all the winter tailgating tips worth reading this season.

  • Pack Like a Kardashian. We’re assuming they don’t pack light, and neither should you! Think of your après ski sesh as glamping rather than camping, and you’ll be on the right track. We like to bring cozy lounge clothes and comfy shoes to change into, along with almost everything we’d schlepp to the campground—read on for specific recos.
  • Food-Prep Like a Crossfitter. As any Deadhead knows, there’s a reason those (potentially dodgy, probably dirty) Shakedown Street burritos taste universally awesome: you didn’t have to make them. So when it comes to winter tailgating food, you’re gonna want to prep everything you can the day before, so all you have to do on the day-of is heat it up and mack it down.
  • Divide and Conquer. We’re not huge fans of adulting over here, but when it’s absolutely necessary, it sure helps to divide up those duties. How you do this is up to you, obvi, but for larger groups, we like to designate specific people to handle booze, apps, mains and cooking stuff—with tarps, chairs and other essential winter tailgating gear as strictly BYO.
  • Don’t Be a Ding-Dong. Speaking of adulting, there are a couple of “unspoken” rules for après ski shenanigans that we’re gonna say out loud anyway. First, be sure to double-check that winter tailgating is allowed wherever you’re headed! Nothing’s sadder than eating a five-star spread in a one-star parking lot—or worse, having to head home without après-ing!

And finally, remember that the Great Outdoors is only as great as you leave it! Please be prepared to leave your encampment just as you found it. Trash cans are notoriously unreliable (i.e. either non-existent or overflowing) in ski resort parking lots. You may need to pack out your waste, which is exactly why we invented the Litter G’tter—the ultimate pick-up artist. Durable and spill-resistant, this hand-held waste warrior makes it easy to do the right thing.

Our Four Fave Winter Tailgating Spots…plus what to eat, sip and spin, wherever!

California/Nevada: Heavenly

Heavenly Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe

There really is nothing like that first time on a Heavenly lift, when you look over your shoulder to see Lake Tahoe sparkling in the distance…or, for that matter, the first time you smash the mountain’s most iconic run: Olympic Downhill. After schussing for 5.5 miles with intermittent lake views, you’ll be too stoked to care about the slushy finish to your day—the final descent to Boulder Lodge. Parking here is free, and the winter tailgating scene is predictably laid back. Side note: with Cazadores on the menu, you’re gonna want to bring along a Kelty TruComfort Doublewide 20 in case you (ahem) overdo it and need to crash in the van.

EAT: Crispy Slow-Cooker Carnitas Taco Bar
SIP: Cazadores Canned Palomas
SPIN: 40 oz. to Freedom / Sublime

Colorado: Arapahoe Basin

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Colorado

There’s a reason A-Basin’s famous “Beach” has (at the time of writing) only THREE OPEN DAYS for the remainder of the 2022 season, and a reason they go for $200 a pop: it’s the mack-daddy of winter tailgating scenes. With front-row parking and ski-in-and-out access, it’s an absolutely epic hang—whether you’re racking up Pali laps or just chillin’ in that famous Colorado sunshine. And, speaking of el sol: we get more than 300 days of it here, so you’ll wanna string up a Kelty Waypoint Tarp to keep your crew from getting crispy.

EAT: Marinated Mixed Grill
SIP: Breck Buddy Pass Oatmeal Stout
SPIN: DJ Khaled Radio

Vermont: Killington

Killington Ski Area, Vermont

If you’re serious about being the King of Spring this year, there’s still time to hit K-Town! The legendary Beast of the East boasts the longest season on the east coast, and their après ski scene is no slouch, either. You’ll need to treat this day like the fun-a-thon it is: start early to snag a sweet spot in your favorite lot, be sure to hydrate (with actual water) throughout the day, and carbo-load to keep your energy up. Bonus points for adding lots of the world-famous local ched! Pro tip: temps drop FAST in this part of the world, so be ready for slopeside snugs with our out-of-this-world-warm Galactic Down Blanket.

EAT: Grilled Cheese Bar
SIP: Hill Farmstead Edward Pale Ale
SPIN: Hampton Comes Alive / Phish

New Mexico: Taos

Taos Ski Area, New Mexico

If you like your après ski scene with a side of enchantment, you’ll first have to recover from the initial “oh SH*T” moment ALL Taos newbies experience. From the mountain’s base, Al’s Run—a heart-stopping mogul situation—seems to rise straight into the blue New Mexican sky.

But while this famous knee-buster (along with the dozens of other intimidating steeps visible from this vantage) is certainly a rite of passage, it’s only about 1/30 of the mountain. There are plenty of reasonable runs for those who’d rather cruise blues before getting down to the business of party pleasure. Parking is free and many lots have stunning views of the pow you just pummelled. True story, though: Taos is known for its light lift lines, so even the least-committed among you WILL be tempted to chase stoke until your legs are toast. Be sure to pack a Kelty Lowdown Couch for world-class loafing after the last, last (no, really!) run.

EAT: Hatch Chicken Chili
SIP: La Cumbre Project Dank IPA
SPIN: Cornell 5-8-77 / Grateful Dead

Stay tuned for more #roadielife with great gear to get you out there in style—and be sure to follow @keltybuilt for all kinds of cool get-out-there content.