11-27-2020 Basch-Tailgating

The pandemic has forced valley ski areas to come up with tailgating policies. (SKI NH/KING PINE PHOTO)

Are dreams of tailgating this ski season dancing through your helmeted head? Thinking of joining the #vanlife craze with your buddies? Calculating a way to include a grill, flat screen TV or other superfluous essentials along with that Thule box loaded with necessities like boards and boots?

There’s a groovy vibe harkening back to Warren Miller’s salad days and VW vans about this season. Your vehicle is your base lodge is the mantra but if you’re thinking of tailgating around valley ski areas, not so fast.

Know before you go.

Ski areas are carving their own tailgating policies because of COVID-19. They vary in the valley but there are several items they agree on, according to Ski New Hampshire — no alcohol, no overnight parking, no open flames or fires.

“Ski areas also ask that people congregate in small groups and adhere to face covering and social distancing policies,” emailed Ski NH’s Shannon Dunfey-Ball.

Ski NH (skinh.com or skinh.com/covid-19-consumer) has developed a campaign “Know Before You Go” to “hammer the message to all potential skiers that things are different than they used to be, and for guests to expect and research changes.” Check resort websites.

Expect accoutrements like food trucks, enlarged outdoor decks, heaters and grab and go options. Use your car as a locker, or to warm up. But linger long? Generally, areas will monitor parking lots. They won’t put their employees at risk. If guests don’t cooperate, expect the law.

King Pine embraces tailgating with restrictions. In addition to no booze, overnight parking and open fires, there’s no glass permitted. Guests are asked to carry in and carry out trash and recyclables. RVs and oversized rigs aren’t allowed in the main parking lot.

General Manager Andrew Mahoney says they want guests to have fun while being safe.

“To help keep tailgating activities enjoyable, our staff will monitor the lots. We appreciate your assistance in advance. Please note (and we hope that this will not happen) that if there’s any resistance to enforcement efforts, Madison Police or the Carroll County Sheriff’s department will be called for assistance,” he emailed.

Though there aren’t any broad tailgating policies at Vail’s Attitash and Wildcat — home to chillin’ Parking Lot C — the resorts are “proactively reducing the amount of non-related party interaction throughout the resort(s),” wrote Communications Manager Jeff Wise.

Wise says they recognize the importance of guests using their vehicles to take a break and have a snack.

“This physical distancing of people not skiing and riding together will be implemented on our lifts and in dining spaces. We’ll encourage people not to congregate in large groups at parking lots as well,” he said.

Staff will monitor physical distancing.

The two ski areas are not Ski NH members.

“Black Mountain will have its lodge open for skiers and riders to eat and drink, of course while maintaining social distance and in compliance with state guidelines,” emailed General Manager John Fichera.

“We will also ask that guests use their vehicles as their lockers this season,” he said.

Black has an expanded deck, new tables, heaters and service window.

“Call it ‘tailgating’ if you will but this does not mean alcoholic beverages are permitted in our parking lots or anywhere outside of our service areas,” he wrote.

At Cranmore, “tailgate picnics are acceptable but open flame cooking (gas grills, charcoal grills, etc.) are not permitted,” wrote Marketing Manager Becca Deschenes.

She says alcohol must be purchased at licensed resort facilities and consumed in those designated locations only. No open containers of alcohol will be allowed in parking lots or outside of said designated facilities or outdoor locations.

“Our (first) approach will be to inform and educate our guests of the rules or laws and seek their compliance,” she said. “At no time will we place our management or staff into harm’s way if a guest or guests choose not to adhere to our rules or state of N.H. liquor laws. If the situation requires an escalation, we will contact the Conway Police Department for their assistance.”

Bretton Woods is asking guests to boot up in their cars and basically has a no drinking, no grills, no tailgating policy, according to Marketing Director Craig Clemmer.

“The parking lots will be patrolled, and there will be signage saying it’s illegal to drink in the parking lots,” he said. “I think everyone will be understanding of that and be compliant and safe at Bretton Woods.”

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