Full Moon Snowshoe Treks to Dinner

The Vail Valley and surrounding area has no shortage of snowshoe trails. From groomed trails at the Vail Nordic Center and Tennessee Pass to the many hiking trails on Meadow Mountain, Vail and Beaver Creek Mountains to guided snowshoe hikes from Walking Mountains, anyone of almost any age or ability can get out and enjoy mountain vistas via snowshoes. But, as someone who loves food almost as much as getting outdoors, I believe that at least once a winter you should plan a full moon snowshoe outing to dinner. If your kids are old enough (12+ or very athletic) it would be fun to do this as a family, but if not, get out and do it with some girlfriends or your significant other.

Vail Area Full Moon Snowshoe to Dinner Venues

You can certainly enjoy a snowshoe hike to either of these restaurants without a full moon. The full moon just helps light your way and enhances the view.

Full moon showshoe to dinner at Zach's Cabin.
As someone who loves food almost as much as getting outdoors, I believe that at least once a winter you should plan a full moon snowshoe outing to dinner.

The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch to Zach’s Cabin

Our group of friends at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch prior to our full moon snowshoe hike up to Zach’s.

First, you will want to make reservations. You can valet park at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch. Winter 2016/2017 the discounted parking for Zach’s Cabin dinner guests is $10 payable by either cash or credit card at the front desk. Grab a mountain map and head out the back patio straight up the mountain. You will veer right at the top of the first lift and then keep on going straight up. It is about a 2.5 to 3 mile hike with an 1800 foot elevation gain so is a pretty good workout. Expect it to take about an hour to hike, give or take a few minutes depending on your speed.

The lights of Zach’s Cabin sparkle so close, yet so far, as you near the end of the vigorous hike.

If there has been lots of snow you will want snowshoes and poles. If there hasn’t been much snow and the snow is packed down you can just wear Yaktrax or some similar boot slip on to give you traction. When you park, ask about the conditions. Their staff should have a good idea of whether you want to use snowshoes or Yaktrax. You will want a head lamp and layered clothing as you might get warm hiking that incline, and it is quite toasty inside the restaurant with a big roaring fire.

If you have someone who wants to join you for dinner but isn’t up to making the hike, they can take the snowcat up.

Enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine and be sure to order an entree.

The bar area isn’t very large but there is plenty of space to relax up front if you happen to get there early. They were actually able to seat our group a few minutes early. Then enjoy a delicious dinner. The appetizers sounded amazing on the menu, but the entrees were even better. A group can probably share a couple of appetizers (the fig salad was the best) and then each order their own entree. Enjoy dinner and friends. The host or hostess will let you know when a snowcat is available to take you down. Or if you aren’t too relaxed after dinner you could certainly hike back down.

Tennessee Pass Cookhouse

While I did snowshoe the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center this winter, it has been quite a while since I enjoyed dinner at the Tennesse Pass Cookhouse. I will have to take my own advice and visit next winter.

A snowshoe trail at Tennessee Pass after fresh snow.

Tennessee Pass is at the base of Ski Cooper just past Camp Hale on the way up to Leadville, so it will be more of a drive for anyone coming from the Vail Valley. Again, you will want to make reservations, probably well in advance. There is only one seating per evening with a maximum capacity of 38 guests. You are expected to arrive at the Nordic Center by 5:30 p.m.

Kids could probably handle this hike, but again, I think it is an experience you will enjoy more with your partner or a group of friends. It is just a mile Nordic ski or snowshoe hike in to the Cookhouse. Check with the staff, but you probably could wear Yaktrax instead of snowshoes. They do provide snowshoes, skis and headlamps in the price of dinner.

Tennessee Pass Cookhouse is set in a Yurt, and is a rustic experience. The Cookhouse is off the grid,” heated by woodstove, and lighted by candle and propane lanterns. It really is a very unique (rustic & idyllic) experience. There is an outhouse, and hand wash at the Cookhouse. Back when I went they didn’t have a liquor license and it was BYOB, but now they offer a very nice wine list.

Have you snowshoed to either of these restaurants? Let us know below what you thought.

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Full Moon Snowshoe Treks to Dinner

Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

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