Ski (or Snowshoe) to a Colorado Backcountry Feast

The Pine Creek Cookhouse is a cozy log cabin that serves up gourmet fare.
The Pine Creek Cookhouse is a cozy log cabin that serves up gourmet fare. Pine Creek Cookhouse
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There’s nothing like working your way through the winter woods to a backcountry cabin or yurt, with the reward of a tummy-full of gourmet food. Don a pair of skis (or snowshoes) and listen to the soft swoosh of your step, while gazing up at a brilliant sky awash with stars. That cold nip on your cheeks awakens your senses, as visions of dinner dance in your head.

Colorado is unique in its backcountry dining experiences. Here, we let you in on three super sweet spots to tuck into a Colorado backcountry feast (and—perhaps—woo your sweet’s heart).

Pine Creek Cookhouse

seigh ride
The Pine Creek Cookhouse will deliver you to its door via horse-drawn sleigh if you so desire. Pine Creek Cookhouse

Wind up Castle Creek Road from Aspen to get to Ashcroft, an historic town that’s also home to the Pine Creek Cookhouse. This cozy cabin is accessible only by ski, snowshoe, or sleigh in the winter. (Yes, that’s right, we said sleigh.) You can opt for a guided 1.5-mile ski or snowshoe to the cookhouse, or—if you don’t want to work up a sweat—hop on a sleigh to whisk you through the woods. Want to go on your own steam but don’t have gear? No problem. Rent what you need from the King Cabin Nordic Center.

The cookhouse serves lunch and dinner all winter starting December 2, with a menu rooted in American alpine cuisine. Dinner is a four-course affair, with choices like buffalo tenderloin, ruby red trout, and herb-roasted Colorado chicken. Lunch is more casual, with sandwiches, soups, and hearty mains to keep you warm. A kids menu is available for the tots.

Tennessee Pass Cookhouse

Tennessee Pass Cookhouse
The Tennessee Pass Cookhouse is a backcountry yurt with commanding views. Tom Gormley

Nestled in the woods a mile from Highway 24 outside of Leadville, the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse is backcountry dining at its best. It’s an easy ski to this off-the-grid yurt, which oozes rustic elegance, lit by candlelight and propane lanterns. You’ll be amazed at what the chef whips up in the wilderness: a four-course spread, with mains like lamb, trout, elk, pheasant, or veg. Lunch is less elaborate but every bit as delicious. The cookhouse is open seven days a week all winter for lunch and dinner, starting Thanksgiving Day.

Rental skis or snowshoes (and a headlamp) are included in the price of dinner (they cost a little extra at lunch). If you’re not up for getting there on your own power, opt for snowmobile service. No matter what method you choose, be ready for a fun journey back down to your car after dinner. Or—better yet—reserve a sleep yurt and spend the night.

Magic Meadows Yurt

Magic Meadows Yurt
The Magic Meadows Yurt in Crested Butte is, indeed, a magical place. Crested Butte Nordic

If Crested Butte is on your brain, then mark your calendar for an evening at the Magic Meadows Yurt. On select evenings during the winter, the fine folks at Crested Butte Nordic bust out all the stops, hosting a five-course dinner in this cozy yurt just outside of Crested Butte. Enjoy a guided 1-mile ski or snowshoe (or go on your own), which takes 20-40 minutes, depending on your speed. Once there, settle in to the all-inclusive experience, with cocktails made from local spirits, beer and wine, and a five-course meal, with live music to boot.

No equipment? No problem. Rentals are included in the price.

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