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Mountaintop dining

By Claudia Carbone, Examiner.com

Lots of restaurants in Colorado boast inspired cuisine, international wine lists and impeccable service. But when you get it all above 10,000 feet in the midst of the magnificent Rocky Mountains, dining out just doesn’t get any better than this.

Whether you ski in for a sit-down lunch or ride a snowcat, gondola or horse-drawn sleigh up for a romantic dinner, you’ll find dining at these mountaintop eateries to be an unforgettable and unique experience and, yes, even an adventure. On-mountain restaurants feed you the most spectacular eye candy in the state. They are the ultimate treat for a holiday vacation or special occasion. Night time is the best time, when fires glow in the fireplace, candles flicker on the table and lights of the resort twinkle far below against a black sky. Plan to spend some bucks and be sure to make reservations well in advance.

Game Creek Club at Vail
www.gamecreekclub.com

Mountain clubs are ski resorts’ answer to golf clubs. At Vail, Game Creek Club is such a place. But non-members can taste the good life – or shall we say the good food – at the club’s Game Creek Restaurant, for dinner at least. In the richly appointed main dining room with upholstered chairs, savor wild game and fresh seafood dishes served with award-winning wines. The restaurant is hidden in Game Creek Bowl. From Lionshead, ride the gondola to Eagle’s Nest from where you’ll be shuttled by snowcat to the glowing lights of the lodge.

The Outpost atop North Peak, Keystone
www.keystoneresort.com

This gastronomic escapade begins with two gondola rides over the slopes of Keystone to The Outpost atop North Peak, the massive timber home of Alpenglow Stube at 11,444 feet. Inside North America’s highest fine dining restaurant, trade your boots for comfy slippers before entering the Swiss-style dining room. Under the eye of Executive Chef Skip McCarthy, award-winning chefs prepare exquisite (and expensive) seven-course prix fixe dinners. Or choose from the a la carte menu of the chefs’ favorite creations. Finish it off with cognac or port in front of a roaring fireplace.

Allred’s at Telluride
www.tellurideskiresort.com/allreds

The timber and stone building housing Allred’s perches on a cliff 1,800 feet above Telluride. To reach it, board the gondola, the historic town’s umbilical cord to chi-chi Mountain Village. As you rise upward on your ride to the midway station, the twinkling lights of the tiny town become distant as the snowy 13,000-foot San Juan Mountains engulf you. Inside, cozy up for the night with small plates and cocktails or enjoy fine dining from the à la carte menu. More than 250 wines from around the world complement the gourmet food.

Zach’s Cabin at Beaver Creek
www.beavercreek.com/zachs-cabin

Zach’s joins Beano’s and Allie’s Cabins at Beaver Creek as elegant yet rustic romantic sleigh-ride dinner destinations. This one is named for Zach Allen, father of Beaver Creek’s first female resident Allie Townsend, for whom Allie’s is named. With vaulted ceilings, a massive stone fireplace and huge windows for dazzling views of the Gore Range, 13,000-square-foot Zach’s is hardly a cabin. But its secluded location in an Aspen grove between Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch give it a cozy cabin feel. Sleighs leave from the Ritz-Carlton for dinner Thursday-Saturday.

Hazie’s at Steamboat
www.steamboat-dining.com/Hazies

The Werner family brought fame to Steamboat with three Werner kids sharing Olympic glory. It is fitting, then, that their mother Hazie is immortalized with a restaurant named in her honor. The alpine bistro sits halfway up Mount Werner in the Thunderhead Lodge. Ride the gondola, watching the twinkling lights of the Yampa Valley grow smaller as you reach the top. The dreamy ambiance temporarily fades walking through the terminal building—until you sit down for dinner. The set-priced Continental meal is as romantic as the ride.


RANDOM POSTS

The USA Pro Challenge largely shutdown Steamboat Springs for two days and sent some of the best riders in the world rolling down local roads.

Stage 1, Saturday: Time trial, Colorado Highway 131 to River Road, starting at 11 a.m.

Stage 2, Sunday: Road race, 80, 62 and 48 miles, on Twentymile Road and Routt County Road 27, starting at 7:30 a.m.

Stage 3, Monday: Downtown criterium closing down Oak, Fourth, Eightth and Pine streets starting at 7:15 a.m. and finishing at 5:30 p.m.

The Steamboat Stage Race hopes not to leave nearly the same footprint but to still offer three days of some of the best road bicycle racing Colorado has to offer.

The annual three-day event has become a Labor Day weekend staple in Steamboat and returns Saturday, Sunday and Monday for its sixth ride.

“Our event is unique because it's open to everyone from professionals down to first-time racers,” director Corey Piscopo said, “but regardless of ability, it's a very challenging event. It's three days of racing on some really hard courses.”

The race begins Saturday with a time trial in and around Steamboat Springs, running down Colorado Highway 131, turning around on Routt County Road 14 and returning to town on River Road, 13 total miles.

Sunday the riders will tackle a long road race, 80 miles for the pro divisions. They'll start on 13th street in town, race out toward Twentymile Coal Mine, then log most of their miles on county road 27, first toward Hayden, then with a turnaround and back toward Oak Creek, and finally with one more turnaround that will take riders back to Steamboat.

On Sunday, riders will tackle a criterium in downtown Steamboat Springs, riding laps around Fourth, Oak, Eighth and Pine streets.

“Out by the coal mine, those are probably some of the most punishing roads in Colorado that racers will participate in a race on,” Piscopo said.

The race has settled into attracting about 400 riders annually, divided up into more than a dozen age, gender and skill classifications. About 80 elite racers are expected for the pro divisions, and that field should be comprised of some of the very best cyclists from around the state, including Steamboat Springs' own pro cyclist Amy Charity.

“Unlike the Pro Challenge, we won't get full professional teams, but we do get one or two riders from different national teams, as well as riders from a lot of Colorado-based pro teams,” Piscopo said. “We're about the second tier for high-level racers, so there will be some guys from BMC, one of the big national teams, but also some regional guys. It should be a good mix.”

The only road closures associated the event will come with Monday's criterium race.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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