Like tumblers of bourbon and ‘80s holiday movies, all good things must come to an end. Ski season, alas, is one of them. Fortunately, Utah knows how to send its ski seasons off with a bang. Every spring, a cascade of parking-lot parties and ridgetop hootenannies makes waves across the state’s ski resorts.
If you line up your calendar and costume correctly, you can partake in some of our choicest end-of-season assemblies. They happen every year, so if you miss one, there’s another 11 months to get your ensemble (and liver) ready for the next. Take your pick of these five awesome end of ski season parties in Utah.
Solitude Last Day at Moonbeam
Every year, partying in Solitude’s lower Moonbeam parking lot starts ramping up on the first warm days of spring. Over the weeks, you’ll see few straw hats and tailgate coolers full of drinks. But on Solitude’s last day (April 12 th this year), things kick up a few notches. A full-on party brigade takes over the lower parking lot, especially around the base of the Eagle Express lift. Portable barbecues and lawn furniture come out and people pass around red Solo cups of jungle juice.
Toward the end of the ski day, around 3 pm, the party moves up to the top of the Powderhorn ski lift, the highest pinnacle on the front side of the resort. This is where revelers remain until the last run of the day, when the Powderhorn lift chairs have made their final round around the bullwheel till fall. Pro tip: Let everyone else take their last run slightly ahead of you. The caboose is the safest place to be when descending a steep slope with dozens of drinkers.
Brighton Dummy Downhill
Each year, Brightoncloses a week after Solitude, so it’s easy to hit up both parties. This year is no different; Brighton shuts down for summer on April 19th. Over the course of the day, the party builds up. Revelers sun themselves on the patio of the Alpine Rose and jostle in and out of Molly Greens pub. Speakers blast a cacophony of tunes in colorful chaos.
Late in the afternoon, the crowds start their walk to the top of the halfpipe, which is just a ways up the hill. Then, the annual Dummy Downhill commences. Resort employees and locals affix homemade dummies to all manner of sleds, then send them flying down the center of the halfpipe and off a jump at the bottom to watch them smash into bits. The only rules are a 50-pound weight limit and no pyrotechnics (would’ve loved to be around the day they had to add that rule).
Jortski at Snowbird
Originally a little ode-to-jorts tailgate party at the base of Snowbird each spring, Jortski has blossomed into a large-scale denim-clad revelry with its own official beer sponsor (PBR, for the record). It’s held in early May—this year it’s on the 2 nd . As its Facebook page declares, the event is “fueled by PBR, Fernet, free trucker hats, rockin' classic tunes, and pure stoke.”
The rules of Jortski include: a) wear your finest (or fugliest) denim shorts, b) embrace a red, white, and blue color scheme, and c) don’t worry about where the gin-filled turkey baster has been.
Alta High Boy Party
Alta shares a closing date with Brighton—it’s also on May 19 th this year. So you’ll have to make a choice between Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, but if you’re a snowboarder, that simplifies things. On this fine mid-May day, the birds will chirp, the canyon stream runs briskly with snowmelt, and party people will overflow from Goldminer’s Daughter. The rope-tow suddenly becomes a challenging ride with costume-clad celebrants hanging on. (Yes, Alta takes its last-day costumes seriously. You’ll feel like a square if you don’t arrive in something along the lines of a neon one-piece or Snoopy suit.)
Toward the end of the day, everyone rides the Collins chairlift for a last hurrah on the top of High Rustler. Throw a few extra beers in your fanny pack for the adventure, and prepare for hijinks. Just don’t fully open the throttle on boozing until you get to the bottom: In true Alta fashion, there’s no easy way down.
On the Park City Side
Blessed with a little less snow than the Cottonwood Canyons, Park City generally throws its springtime shindigs a little earlier. The Canyons’ epic pond-skimming contest (just as chilly as it sounds) goes down in late March and is generally accompanied by a rollicking free concert. And Park City’s Gaper Day (a rebrand of the Clown Day parties that got so out of hand they were banned by the town) goes down at the beginning of April.
Of course, if all this sounds like a lot of work, you could just keep your Ray-Bans and Arc’teryx on and go have a glass of wine at Deer Valley. But which stories would you rather tell your grandchildren?