If you ask typical Coloradans what’s changed at Arapahoe Basin in the last few seasons, a mention of the Montezuma Bowl expansion is probably the first thing to leave their mouths. But for the locals who ski the Basin regularly, they might also give a nod to Black Mountain Lodge and some of the exciting new culinary additions.
Introduced in the 2008-2009 season to a sellout crowd, the Black Mountain Lodge Full Moon Snowshoe Dinner Series is one of those offerings. Equipped with snowshoes and headlamps, dinner guests ride the Exhibition Lift from the base to Black Mountain Lodge, Arapahoe Basin’s newest on-mountain restaurant.
Live music begins and, as dusk turns to night, diners settle in for a spread of gourmet cuisine prepared by A-Basin chef Christopher Rybak. When the food is gone and the music quiets, guests snowshoe or hike down the mountain under the light of the full (or nearly full) moon.
“Number one, I like doing nice food,” Rybak says “Number two, I really think that when you provide a special thing for the guest it makes a big difference. What a great experience if they get to ride a chairlift and go to dinner. It’s that wow factor.”
As the chef who opened the Alpenglow Stube, Keystone’s four-diamond, signature restaurant, Rybak knows a thing or two about wow factor.
He began upping the ante at A-Basin with super-yummy barbecue and bison stew at the Black Mountain Lodge, and now visitors can indulge in crepes on the weekends. You also can expect to find the burgers standing tall and the onion rings hot and crispy.
“With everything I try to incorporate value,” Rybak says. “You can walk away saying ‘Maybe I paid $8.95 for a burger, but it was well worth it.’”
Like the burgers, the Full Moon Snowshoe Dinner Series will be totally worth it. Themed dinners include Asian samplings such as dim sum and soba noodles as well as a night of French fare that incorporates fine cheeses and delicate sweets.
In the summer, look for the Alpenglow Dinner and Wildflower Hike, a similar affair that involves a chairlift ride, gourmet cuisine inspired by local ingredients and a post-dinner wildflower hike back to the base area.
Though the installation of a new, high-speed quad means the summer dinners will skip a season, it’s not too late for the spring snowshoe series. All previous dinners sold out, a sign that guests should plan to buy tickets well in advance.
If You Go
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
28194 U.S. Hwy 6
Keystone, Colorado 80435
Reservations are required. Cost is $55/person plus tax ($35 for kids under 12) and includes a multi-course, buffet-style dinner. Gratuity is included and a cash bar is available.
For dates, times and themes visit: www.arapahoebasin.com.
Rachel Zerowin is a writer and media professional who specializes in the travel and outdoors industries. Read her blog for a taste of life in the mountains of Summit County, Colorado. coloradosummitlife.com