Après Ski in Utah? Decidedly Not an Oxymoron

Alta and Snowbird

Four resorts lie within striking distance of Salt Lake City, a pair in each of the Cottonwood canyons. Alta and Snowbird—the two resorts with a bit of global name recognition—comprise Little Cottonwood Canyon. And while these resorts offer decent options for thirsty skiers and boarders, the bars will always seem slightly less impressive when compared to the rugged mountainscapes—and ample snow-covered terrain—that surrounds them. But then, no amount of alcohol will ever compare to the rush of blasting through fresh powder at either of these resorts.

Snowbird is the first resort you encounter as you penetrate the canyon, and it boasts Cottonwood's most impressive après spot: The Aerie Lounge, located on the top floor of Snowbird's Cliff Lodge. While you may not associate sushi and skiing, consider swapping your fat sticks for chopsticks at this hotspot. Even those coming from both coasts will be impressed with Snowbird's high-quality sushi; with Salt Lake City just 29 miles away, the land-locked area gets fresh fish flown in daily. The Aerie's 10th-floor location maximizes the expansive views of Snowbird's steep pitches. And for those who can't adjust to the idea of sushi after skiing, the Aerie offers a $10 fondue happy hour special Monday thru Thursday, from 5 to 6 p.m. This is also great for budget-minded skiers given that the sushi prices can be as steep as Snowbird's slopes.

On the third level of the Cliff Lodge, El Chanate Cantina is a haven for tequila connoisseurs with Utah's largest selection of premium brands. The $1 taco special offered from 4 to 5 p.m. on Monday thru Thursday completes the Mexican experience—and provides an inexpensive solution to absorb those tequila shots.

Those seeking a more laidback après ski environment should head to the Tram Club or the Wildflower Lounge, two locations that prove popular with the local crowd. The Tram Club, located on first level of the Snowbird Center (below the tram), has neon lighting that evokes a 1980s bowling alley. Puzzling décor aside, the bar offers 13 televisions for sports fans as well as billiards, video games, and pool.

The Wildflower is on the third floor of the Iron Blosam Lodge, near the Wilbere ski lift. In addition to televisions and pool, the bar features live music performed by local bands. Refuel on 30-cent wings every day from 4 to 6 p.m.

Up the canyon from Snowbird lies Alta. Like the resort itself, which is tailored to old-school skiers with no snowboarding allowed, Alta's après ski offerings are more rustic. They're all housed in the various lodging properties, and since the resort-base hotels don't have televisions in the rooms, most visitors seek entertainment in the bars and other common areas.

The Alta Peruvian Lodge Private Club and Bar, more commonly known as The Peruvian, is most popular amongst Alta's loyal ski bums. It's located near the entrance to the Wildcat base area and Collins/Wildcat lifts, embracing a down-home atmosphere accented by breathtaking views of Alta's jagged peaks. Hear the scruffy Alta diehards brag about how many "face shots" they experienced and how much air they got hucking off cliffs that day while consuming complimentary popcorn and hot appetizers, which begin daily at 4:30 p.m. For many, the free bar food provides their main source of nutrition throughout the season.

Or you can ski to the door of the Goldminer's Daughter Lodge, located at the Wildcat base area just a few steps from the Collins lift. On the second floor, the Goldminer's Saloon also boasts tremendous views, including the famed High Rustler run. The Goldminer's features 13 draft beers, hot chocolate for $1, and large bar food portions, including a nachos platter, baked stuffed potato with a variety of toppings, and pizza.

Published: 18 Jan 2008 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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