Anyone who has ever lived in a ski town will tell you one of the most looked-forward-to days of the year is closing day. Not because the mountain is closing or the winter is over, but because the season is to be CELEBRATED! And with four mountains comprising the entity that is Aspen Snowmass, it's not unusual - in fact it's heralded - when people go all out for all four closing day celebrations.
April 8th marks the first, last day of the season. Both Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands stop spinning lifts on the 8th. With two closing days in one, the free skier shuttle definitely comes into play, so make sure you take a look at the schedule of the routes between Buttermilk and Highlands to map out the hours of the day. We recommend starting at Buttermilk first thing in the morning for Bacon Appreciation Day.
For the more aggressive of the bunch headed to Buttermilk, an uphill event kicks off at 8:00 AM that will begin at the base of Buttermilk and end at the Cliffhouse Restaurant. Prizes will be awarded for best costume, fastest individual, fastest family, and the "Center Cut", or whomever is dead middle of the pack. From there, delicious bacon waffles will be served at the Cliffhouse starting at 9:00 AM and sweet ColoraDough is serving up all kinds of bacon related goodies at the base.
If you're looking to stick around Buttermilk for the day, more bacon samples will be served all around the mountain starting at 11:30 AM including bacon wrapped scallops at the top of the Summit Express chair, Applewood smoked bacon at the top of the West Buttermilk chair, Canadian bacon at the No Problem Cabin and BLT sliders provided by Home Team BBQ at the bottom of the Summit, just to name a few. Then the party really kicks off at 2:30 PM at the base with bacon caramel kettle corn, chips and bacon dip, and games, s'mores, and face painting for the kids until 4:00 PM.
For those with little ones, simply hanging at Buttermilk may be the way to go. But for the more adventurous - and party savvy -- grabbing some bacon nourishment in the morning at the 'Milk then heading to Aspen Highlands will ensure you get the most bang for your buck. For locals, closing day at Highlands is the closing day to end them all. This. Is. The. Party. From getting in one last bowl hike, to dressing up, to Cloud Nine, to DJs, dancing and going late at the Highlands Ale House, this is the party of the season. Costumes ranging from 80s to babies and everything in between will be seen around the mountain on the 8th. Never again will you see such a wide array of creatures hiking Highland Bowl or spraying champagne at Cloud Nine or dancing in ski boots at the base.
You'll need a week to recuperate from the festivities of the 8th to prepare for the festivities of the 15th. Both Aspen Mountain and Snowmass shut down on the 15th and this is the END of skiing in Aspen for the season... unless we get a bonus weekend, which the Aspen Skiing Company has been known to give us here and there.
Snowmass goes all out and declares closing day to be a weekend-long event. This year is the second annual surf and snow beach party with events lined up from Friday evening through last chair on Sunday. As this season marked the 50th anniversary of Snowmass, this closing day/weekend will surely not disappoint. In fact, the best way to ensure you make both Snowmass and Aspen Mountain closing festivities, you might need two days.
The place to be on Saturday the 14th is Elk Camp Restaurant at Snowmass. Hawaiian leis, dueling DJs, margarita blender bikes, and volleyball will all be part of the fun at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola. To really be a part of the action, don't forget to put your swimsuit on underneath your outerwear as revelers will be skiing down to the base in just their swimsuits at the end of the party.
Sunday the 15th - the final closing day of the season -- is going to once again necessitate committing the free skier shuttle timetable to memory. And the decision on where to start completely depends on where you want to end. Some will want to finish the season where it started for many... Gondola Plaza at the base of Aspen Mountain. Ajax Tavern is creating The Ultimate Fiesta complete with live music from Mala Rumba, Mexican street fare, and drink specials. Right across the way, Shlomo's will undoubtedly see guests table dancing and dueling music with Ajax Tavern. If finishing up at Aspen Mountain is the way to go, then start at Snowmass and watch the Events crew set up for the 10th Annual Schneetag.
Schneetag is a pond skim for teams of four who are invited to create a "watercraft" that will carry them across the pond. The event is judged and prizes are awarded based on costume theme, creativity and distance they made it across the pond. It's a time-honored Aspen tradition. Usually held at Highlands, the event was moved to Snowmass this year to the Spider Sabich Picnic Palace to be able to accommodate more spectators. The event officially kicks off at 12:00 PM and goes until 2:00 PM. So, for those wanting to finish the day here as more festivities commence after the Schneetag event wraps up, then start the day at Buckhorn Cabin on Aspen Mountain. Aspen 82, the local television channel, always rents the cabin and tons of people in all attires flock to help them celebrate the wrap of their on-mountain television season. Lots of beer is provided, but to be cool, BYOB some refreshments as well.
No matter where you spend your closing day celebrations and whether you hit just one or all four, the end of a ski season in Aspen Snowmass is a chance to celebrate the time on snow and thank the hard-working crew who made the whole season possible. So high-five the lift attendants, shake hands with a ski patroller, and wrap those who deliver you beverages in a big hug because that's how it all gets done, after all.