Starting in 1973 and taking place every fall for the past 45 years, Oktoberfest at Snowbird has become an autumnal staple in Utah, as admired as our state’s beautiful fall foliage. This beer-and-brats themed celebration is held every weekend from late August until late October. With an annual attendance of 60,000 people, Snowbird’s Oktoberfest celebration has been recognized as one of the best German-themed festivals around.
With summer winding down and ski season (and après-ski season) rapidly approaching, I needed an excuse to kick start my après-ski training. Spending nearly one-fifth of my season at Snowbird, it was only natural that I kicked off the après-ski training season with a weekend of biking, Bier and Bratwursts at Snowbird’s Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest takes place every weekend from now until October 20th. With a handful of fun activities, live music, and events like the Beard and Mustache Competition and the Snowbird Bratwurst Eating Championship taking place this fall, make sure to pay attention to Snowbird’s event calendar for all the latest happenings.
Before we dive further in Oktoberfest culture, let’s learn some useful German phrases drawn from the three years of high school German I somehow managed to pass half-a-lifetime ago:
- Bier = Beer
- Steins = A giant glass for consuming massive amounts of Bier
- Bratwurst = Grilled or fried pork sausage
- Weisswurst = White sausage made traditionally from veal
- Sauerkraut = Fermented cabbage
- Spaetzle = Soft egg noodles
- Lederhosen = Festive German garb for men
- Dirndl = Festive German dress for women
- Oktoberfest = An annual festival in Munich, Germany celebrating the drinking of Bier
- Gemütlichkeit = a feeling of warmth, friendliness and good cheer
While my inner-German loves nothing more than a Stein of Bier and a giant plate of Weisswurst, Sauerkraut and Spaetzle, ski season is coming and we have some downhill training to do and mountain biking on Snowbird’s Big Mountain Trail (BMT) is one thrilling way to do it.
The BMT is Snowbird’s signature bike trail starting at the top of Hidden Peak and descending almost 3,000 vertical feet over 7.5 miles, ending smack dab in the middle of the Snowbird Center, home of the Oktoberfest village.
At the top of the Aerial Tram, we took in some views while being serenaded by Alpenhorns at the summit of 11,000 foot Hidden Peak. After hopping on our bikes, we started the 3000 vertical feet descent of Big Mountain Trail. As we rode, fast and loose switchbacks traversing Regulator Johnson gave way to tight berms and rock gardens under Gad 2. After failing hard last month, I successfully negotiated the man-made bridge that connects the top half of the mountain to the fast and flowy sections through pines and aspens. Much like Tram laps in the winter, we rode the 7.5 mile trail at a varying pace, stopping occasionally to take panoramic photos, snapping banger Instagrams on berms, and filming some follow cam action through technical sections with GoPros. Mile markers seem to also mark transitions in the trail, from fast and fun, to technical and playful. The best part of the BMT is experiencing a variety of terrain as you descend nearly 3,000 feet. Well, that and rolling into the Tram Plaza and the Gemütlichkeit of Oktoberfest.
Bikes, brews, and brats: the essential ingredients of Gemütlichkeit!
We ditched the bikes and refueled with Steins of Bier and huge plates of authentic German fare. After lunch, we hopped back on the Tram for a second lap on the BMT, finishing back in the Snowbird Center around six in the evening as Oktoberfest was wrapping up for the day.
Fortunately for our crew, the festivities didn’t end there. Snowbird is currently offering Oktoberfest Getaway packages
and a few of us booked rooms at the The Cliff Lodge
for a nice little staycation weekend. We traded in our Dirndls and Lederhosen for warmer clothes, met up with non-biking friends, and boarded the Aerial Tram to watch the sunset from the top of Hidden Peak. While on the last Tram down, we made reservations, then enjoyed an incredible meal at The Aerie
, located on the 10th floor of the Cliff Lodge.
Not ready for the après-ski training to end, we made our way to The Tram Club
for some après-Oktoberfest fun. The Tram Club, and their five dollar shot-and-a-beer combo, is a year-round favorite of ski bums. And with a last call of 11 pm, we were all back to the room and asleep before midnight.
Following a long day of training, we kicked off Sunday Funday (aka Sonntag Spaßtag) with an incredible brunch buffet at the Atrium in the Cliff Lodge, devouring enough food that cramping became a concern as we later lounged poolside at the newly renovated Cliff Spa