Bars We Love: The Snake River Saloon

Where everybody knows your name

We have no idea who any of these people are. We're definitely not friends. PHOTO: HEATHER HANSMAN

You probably don’t need to be drinking in Keystone, especially if you didn’t ski there, but after the bar at A-Basin closes at six, when the gravel-voiced bartender needs to go home, you should probably go somewhere, right? And from there you have to head down the mountain, along Route 6, through the unnatural village of Keystone.

There are two real bars in Keystone, the Snake and the Goat. From the road, the Goat looks like it should be the place. It advertises soup and whiskey, and makes an unbased claim to sell the most PRB in the universe. It’s promising on the surface, but the Goat is a bar for tourons and first year lifties from Wisconsin. Do you like recently formed jam bands and getting your shoes puked on in the ladies room? OK, then maybe you should stay.

But if you’re reasonable, you should head to the Snake River Saloon. When you walk in there will be two doors. Do not turn left, unless you’re with a rich uncle, or someone who desperately wants to buy you elk steak, which you probably aren’t. There’s a schmancy restaurant on that side of the door. Ignore it. Go right, through the swinging doors to the bar.

The Snake is faux log cabin-y, sometimes beaters from Texas find their way in there, and the beer isn’t exactly cheap. But your friends are there. My friends are there. They’re posted up at the bar, sucking wing sauce off their fingers, waiting for the band to start. The band is probably the MTHDS, who have sort of gotten big but still cycle through the Snake’s tiny stage on weekends. The bartender is probably the guy who was bumping your chair earlier that day. People stick around. They don’t give you the ski town stop-looking-at-my-girl cold shoulder. Keep coming often enough and they might start recognizing you.

It’s nice when a bar has a deep whiskey list, and ambiance and stuff, but it’s really important that it has gravity, something that pulls you back in. There’s a reason Cheers was a thing. Music helps, a little bit of food helps. A foosball table probably doesn’t hurt. And the Snake, in the faceless Keystone village, has that pull.

Posted In: First Chair, Places


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  • raindep

    ah I get it…you dont want hippies and freshman lift ops puking on your shoes..instead drunk idiots will do shots off of each other’s abdomens…I say, just go home after the A Basin bar closes and cut your losses…both of these bars seem like a bore to me…

  • Swellhunter

    That place was my watering hole in the early to mid 90′s when I lived there. I worked at Keystone but primarily skied A-Basin. It used to get the most eclectic mix of people you could imagine. Absolutely worth a stop on the way home from the Basin.

  • anonomous

    ahhhh, the ol’ viper lounge

  • viper regular

    That bar is 50 yards from my house. The picture is backwards

  • viper regular

    and they will not do body shots or blow fire anymore

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