Vail’s bringing back its vintage high-altitude Ice Bars and Snow Bungalows for its 60th Anniversary season in 2022–23. Image courtesy Vail Resorts.
No matter what your ideal ski day entails, your time on the mountain is undoubtedly gonna leave you hungry for more. And more is exactly what Colorado’s top ski resorts have in store for you this year. Fresh new restaurants and bars range from grab-and-go quick stops to the highest of fine dining affairs, not to mention the return of a vintage classic. Here’s what’s new in mountain dining and drinking for the 2022-23 season.
Located at 12,456 feet at the summit if A-Basin, il Rifugio at Snow Plume is the highest-elevation restaurant in North America. Following an extensive renovation, the restaurant is bigger and better than ever before. Inspired by the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, the mountain restaurant will begin offering table service when it reopens for the season in December 2022. The European-style bistro specializes in wine and charcuterie pairings featuring both imported and local Colorado meats and cheeses, , with boards ranging from around $16 to $32. The menu also features soups and chowders, salads, flatbreads, and espresso drinks.
The recent upgrades to Snow Plume focused on sustainability, and the former warming hut now features the continent’s highest solar array on its roof. Despite the building having no running water, il Rifugio does, however, offer restrooms in the form of composting toilets. Dirty dishes and the like are packed in bins to be carted down to be washed mid-mountain at the end of the day.
To get there, you’ve got to be able to ski or ride at least a blue/intermediate—there’s no foot-passenger lift service.
Also at A-Basin, Steilhang Hut is the newest on-mountain restaurant, set to open late November 2022. Located at the top of the Lenawee Parks frontside terrain, this German-style hut with a wrap-around deck sits above the treeline, making for some stellar views of the East Wall and Continental Divide. It’s serving Colorado-made specialty sausages, Colorado-brewed German draft beer, and soft pretzels and strudel made by Denver bakeries. It’s the perfect spot to grab a quick meal while you rest your legs before another trip into Montezuma Bowl or another lap of the East Wall terrain. And, like il Rifugio, you’ve gotta be able to ride or ski at least a blue/intermediate run to get down from it.
At the base of Buttermilk Mountain, Bumps has been revamped into the new Buttermilk Mountain Lodge, complete with an expanded bar and outdoor patio with table-side heaters. Once it opens for the season on Dec. 17, the Lodge will be serving a breakfast, lunch, and après ski menu heavy on American and Mediterranean cuisine. Think: made-to-order pastas and salads, fresh grill selections, house-made soups, and the only on-mountain bakery in town, with plenty of grab=and-go options to keep you satiated.
Inside and out, Buttermilk’s Super-pipe—the central focus of the Winter X Games—is in prime view. It’s not only the best spot to catch a front-row seat to the action, it’s also an après hot spot where you can enjoy specials on the deck after the mountain closes.
Nearing completion of the second phase of its $200 million, multiyear transformation, Steamboat Resort is debuting its new The Range Food & Drink Hall this year. Part of the newly redesigned Steamboat Square at the base area, adjacent to Skeeter’s Ice Rink, The Range is on track for a mid-season opening. It’ll serve coffee and hot chocolate in the mornings, with a focus on midday meals and après-ski options.
Along with bars on both of its two floors, Range, as its name implies, is offering a wide range of cuisine options with a goal of satisfying even the pickiest members of your group. Twister Tacos will have street-style tacos along with churros for dessert; Sunshine Bowl is where you’ll find all sorts of warming ramen bowls. For pizza, there’s Pioneer Pies, and for sandwiches and salads, head to Why Not Sandwich Shop. (If you’ve spent some time on Steamboat’s trails, you’ll recognize the clever name tie-ins.)
Fear not, you won’t have to wander around the place in your boots to check out the various menus. Instead, grab a seat, scan the QR code on the table, browse the options at your leisure, then place an order right from your phone. You’ll get a text message when your grub’s ready to be picked up.
As for the bars, the first-floor spot is where you want to order if you want to take your beverage just outside to the ground-level fire pits where you can watch what’s happening on the skating rink. If it’s après time, head upstairs to the second-floor lounge, which is oriented around a fireplace. The outdoor lounge, where beautiful views abound, is an added bonus on sunny days.
The building’s design is reminiscent of a modern barn to reflect the strong ranching heritage of Steamboat Springs. You’ll notice beautiful reclaimed timbers that serve as the pillars of the building’s interior and exterior, with decor accents highlighted by cowboy hats, leather, suede, denim, and rope.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary in December 2022, Vail Mountain is upping the ante on its ongoing commitment to providing the best après-ski scene both on and off the mountain. Nothing captures the Vintage Vail feeling and an outstanding ski day more than Vail Après.
How the first Ice Bar came to be is full of lore and legend, but once a pioneering Vail ski mountain legend piled up snow in the mid-1960s and started serving drinks, après was never the same. Sixty years later, Ice Bars are back, baby, and now they’re raising spirits higher than ever. And this time around, there are two of them.
At an elevation of 10,981 feet, the ski-in, ski-out Wildwood bar is accessible only to skiers and snowboarders, but anyone can take the Eagle Bahn Gondola to the ice bar at Eagle’s Nest, elevation 10,350 feet. Both open-air bars, carved and re-carved out of ice and snow as the weather demands, are set to be the hottest places on the mountains, thanks to the music, food, and signature cocktails on offer in the vintage settings.
And if you’re looking to carve out your own special place on the mountains, reserve one of Vail’s four Snow Bungalows, located at the Igloo Village at the Eagle’s Nest Ice Bar. You’ll get a private experience amid all the action.