Arapahoe Basin in the waning days of June. Courtesy A-Basin web cam.

By David Schissler – I live on Cape Cod so I do my 4th of July “beaching” in the traditional sense. Sandy beach, hot sun, cool water. Personally, I’m quite content with the arrangement. But there was a time when the 4th of July meant skiing for me.

I spent the ‘90’s living in Evergreen, Colorado, about half-way between Denver and the Continental Divide and only 45 minutes from Arapahoe Basin. After Loveland closes in late May “beachin’ at the basin” is the place to be. With a base altitude of roughly 11,000 feet and a summit just above 13,000 feet, A-Basin can get snow on any given day of the year ensuring one of the longest season’s in North America. In fact, they received new snow in mid-June. I can remember one 4thof July when my family and I joined friends to celebrate in Georgetown, Colorado, one of the last towns before Loveland Pass. My son was in the parade riding on a fire truck with his friends. Shortly after the parade began it started snowing. I don’t mean a few flurries; I mean a genuine prolonged squall that had everyone scrambling for warmer clothes.

The base area at Arapahoe Basin

Beachin’ at the Basin is a long standing tradition and a rite of passage in Colorado. A-Basin’s Early Riser parking lot is conveniently located right at the bottom of several lifts. Front row spots are coveted because you can back right up to the snow and unload your grill (no charcoal, it’s USFS land), chairs, and cooler for easy access and egress all day. If you hit it right you never need to take off your skis. But be warned. Parking in such a choice spot doesn’t come cheaply. Check the site, but preferred parking this time of year is $100 a day for two cars and includes a picnic table. Reservations are a must! Have a posse of 20+? The mountain will even cater a BBQ lunch for you.

The altitude is what makes all this possible. With some of the highest lift-served skiing in North America and the pitch necessary to glide on all that corn, you can enjoy good turns even with temps in the 70’s!  

You’ll find the Black Mountain lift running from the base up to mid mountain to the Black Mountain Lodge. From there to your left is the venerable Lenawee triple which will take you to the summit. Of course this is where most of the good skiing is. You’ll generally find a half a dozen to a dozen or so trails to get you down. Cover is remarkably good with a base of 2-feet or more. 

For all of the rules and regs on the “beach “at 11,000 feet visit Beachin at the Basin