Want to experience a memorable meal and make a lifetime memory? Here’s how.
Pine Creek Cookhouse sees all types.
Located 12 miles from Aspen in the upper Castle Creek Valley, Ashcroft Ski Touring is home to 20 miles of groomed Nordic ski trails. Rent cross-country skis, skate ski gear or snowshoes at the Ashcroft Adventure Lodge and earn your bites as you wind through 600 acres of subalpine terrain to Pine Creek Cookhouse (pinecreekcookhouse.com), where you’ll be rewarded with mountain gourmet cuisine. Or, opt for the snowy horse-drawn sleigh ride. In the warmer months, explore the Castle Creek Valley on bike, foot or with a fishing rod; this paired with lunch makes for a quintessential summer day in the mountains. For equestrians, ride your horse on the trails up to Pine Creek and park your hoofed ride at the table; the staff are happy to accommodate. For daredevils, paragliding to the restaurant for a beer and bite is a welcome only-in-Aspen option.
Cozy up with Cloud Nine’s Snowcat Dinners.
A presnowcat mug of hot chocolate with schnapps will greet you at the base of Aspen Highlands before you depart uphill for a snug winter dining experience at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro (aspensnowmass.com). On top of its raging après-ski scene and decadent fondue déjeuner offerings, Cloud Nine’s mountain-modern-chic cabin boasts snowcat suppers complemented by iconic Maroon Bells views and the warmth of a wood-burning fireplace. Talk about a cozy winter night! If Cloud Nine is booked, Lynn Britt Cabin serves up an exquisite Western mountain four-course dinner experience with live music to boot. Hitch a ride from the snowcat or hike up Snowmass if you’re so inclined.
Dog sled and dinner at Krabloonik
Who let the dogs out? Krabloonik (krabloonik.com). Embark on a snowy dog sled tour and glide through the pristine Snowmass backcountry, powered by a fleet of husky sled pups guided by an experienced musher. Pick your tour time—morning, afternoon or twilight (the latter is recommended for the romantics)— and sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Halfway through, you’ll stop for a campfire and a steamy cup of hot cider while the furry engines take a rest. Postsled, a hearty meal at Krabloonik is a must.
Elk Mountain Expeditions Mine N’Dine with a sunset on the side
You haven’t experienced Aspen until you’ve been to Smuggler Mine (June to August, raftinginaspen.com). Tour the mountain town’s oldest operating silver mine (now a historical venue) and discover the history of this crown jewel (like how it was the site of the world’s largest silver nugget ever mined, weighing in at 1,840 pounds). Emerge from the mine on the terrace, where an open fire, a decadent barbecue dinner courtesy of Home Team BBQ and fiery sunset views will await you.
Cruise to Woody Creek Tavern.
The only thing between you and the historic hangout of Hunter S. Thompson and his eccentric band of misfits is an 8-mile bike ride from Aspen to Woody Creek via the Rio Grande Trail. Pedal the scenic trail and then quench your thirst with a fresh-squeezed lime margarita at the Woody Creek Tavern (2858 Upper River Road, Woody Creek, woodycreektavern.com). This old- school pub serves up mouthwatering Mexican fare, but be sure to bring your bucks; it’s cash only.
Farm-to-Table with ACES and Elk Camp
Celebrate local and sustainable agriculture with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (aspennature.org). Its farm-to-table alfresco dinners feature a five-course meal of local foods and cheeses sourced right from the ranch, in addition to beer, wine and spirits sourced from area vendors. Before dinner, take a guided farm tour and get to know the local producers who made your meal possible. Biking to the ranch is highly encouraged. Or, hike up Snowmass (aspensnowmass.com) for farm-to-table fare at Elk Camp Restaurant (free gondola rides are available too). Every Tuesday, July through August, Elk Camp hosts a family-friendly mountaintop dining experience with a full cash bar, outdoor family activities and live music. Good news, mountain bikers: In conjunction with the dinner, Snowmass Bike Park stays open until dusk if you’re jonesing for a sunset ride pre- or postdinner.
Photography by: Courtesy of Pine Creek Cook House