Whether wrapping up a deep session in the backcountry or capping a day at the resort, après ski is often the most coveted moment of a ski day and a hallmark of ski culture. There’s simply something special about kicking back, unbuckling your boots, and trading tales about powder stashes, untracked lines, and epic conditions over a few drinks—If you even know what it is.

Defining Après Ski

The tradition of après ski began in Norway, however, the French adopted and popularized the activity. Its practice as we know it today traces its roots to France and the rise of commercial skiing in the 1950s.

Après skiing loosely translates to “after ski” or “after skiing” and Merriam-Webster defines it as “social activity (as at a ski lodge) after a day’s skiing.” That said, most modern ski bums define après ski more liberally, using the term to describe everything from trading stories on the lodge patio, to refueling and celebrating around the fire pit to cracking a few tall boys in the parking lot. In other words, if you’re still in your ski clothes, surrounded by friends, and recently wrapped up a day of skiing, then you’re après-ing. And contrary to popular opinion, drinking is definitely not a requirement—Après ski is for everyone.

With that broad definition in mind, there are some generalities commonly associated with what constitutes après ski.

Courtesy: Anders Ljungberg

Après Activities

Après activities run the gamut from picking at a charcuterie board to beer-fueled dancing on the bar with your ski boots on. While alcoholic drinks and a party-like atmosphere are typically après ski staples, the term has been co-opted to encompass a variety of activities that happen after a day skiing, like soaking in the hot tub, cornhole tournaments in the parking lot, and even playing board games at home.


While après ski now includes a wide variety of activities, it typically runs from about an hour before to two or three hours after the lifts stop running. (If you’re in the backcountry, that roughly translates to from late afternoon to early evening or dinner.) It’s often enticing to take the après party late into the night, but savvy ski bums know that the key to first tracks the next day is to get a good meal and be in bed early after a long day on the slopes. And while we’re at it, if you got your butt kicked during a morning of skiing and decide to call it a day at lunch, après can always start early.

After-ski drinks in the Paul Bunyan Lounge. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain


You’ve had a long day. No one is counting calories here, so go ahead and dig into a plate of nachos, grab a few wings, or sample an après ski staple: poutine (french fries covered with cheese curds and gravy).


How you choose to après helps determine exactly what you’ll need for gear. In general, what you wore on the mountain will work equally well for after-ski activities, and is often preferred. Of course, trading a shell out for a puffy coat is a nice touch, especially if you’re planning to après outside. The same is said for swapping out your helmet and goggles for a winter hat and sunglasses.

If you’re hitting up a slopeside bar or nearby pub, you don’t need much else, except your wallet (and probably a different pair of shoes). If you’re going to après in the parking lot or toast at the trailhead after a day in the backcountry, your gear needs can range from spartan to extravagant (or from green square to black diamond).

Credit: Tim Peck

How to Find the Best Après

Whether you’re on the hunt for the strongest drinks, cheapest drafts, or tastiest apps, the best strategy is to keep your eye out for locals—they live and breathe the mountain and are the best place to get info on everything from secret stashes to awesome après. So if you find yourself sharing a lift with a local, seize the opportunity to get the low down on the hottest après destination. And if all else fails, try to spot the locals: Look for a ski patrol or mountain ops jacket draped over a chair or the faces you saw running the lifts at the local watering hole.

Last Bell

No matter if you’re sipping wine slopeside or kicking back in the backcountry, après is all about connecting with friends, celebrating a great day sliding on snow, and partaking in one of skiing’s most hallowed traditions. Don’t miss out after the next time you hit the slopes!