By Morgan Tilton
Beyond the altitude, frigid temperatures, and an icy cocktail or brew, high mountain views are truly what take our breath away. Here are five of the best après-ski panoramas to behold at ski resorts around the Rockies in the Western U.S.
The old mining town of Telluride, CO sits at an altitude of 8,750 feet, and is dwarfed by 13,000-foot peaks; the panorama is an absolute stunner in every direction.
As you ride the gondola up—operating year-round and free to the public—stop at the top for a cocktail and incredible meal at Allred’s Restaurant. If you walk in sans appetite (doubtful), you’ll soon be hooked by the sweeping alpenglow out the gigantic windows—and the birds eye view of town a few thousand feet down—and need to dive into the menu. Definitely order the hand-cut truffle fries or sustainably sourced Elk loin.
A handful of European-style huts around Telluride Ski Resort serve up tasty food, warm drinks, outdoor seating and incredible views. At the top of Lift 9, stop into Giuseppe’s for a face-on view of San Joaquin Ridge and Wasatch Mountains to the east. On a clear day, you can see as far as the La Sal Mountain in Utah to the west. Don’t miss out on the chili or the meatball sandwich. If you head to Prospect Bowl, swing into the High Camp Warming Hut for a beverage and chill in lounge chairs. A newer addition to the mountain, Bon Vivant, dishes up classic country French cuisine and steals a breathtaking vista of Palmyra.
Roaring Fork River winds its way through Aspen, CO, which is surrounded by the show-stopping Elk Mountains, Sawatch Range and White River National Forest. Aspen is comprised of four mountain areas: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk.
Get the views at Aspen Highlands’ Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro—best known for its fondue and champagne bottles—which totes an amazing backdrop of the iconic Maroon Bells. At Snowmass, sip wine on the patio of Lynn Britt Cabin, and enjoy the bison or lamb. Another classic view is from the Cliffhouse Restaurant, on Buttermilk, with the dramatic Pyramid and Maroon Creek Valley in sight. Locals and visitors also love to skin or hike up Buttermilk under the full moon, usually ending with a bonfire, drinks and mingling among this generations-long tradition.
Only a few years old, Vail’s mid-mountain lodge and fine-dining restaurant, The 10th—which is named after the historic 10th Mountain Division, a light infantry division in the U.S. Army—sits atop Gondola One at Mid Vail with views of the awe-inspiring Gore Range. Visitors can ski in to enjoy an elegant sit-down lunch, or take the gondola up for a cozy mid-day ride.
While doors close at 3 p.m., the view from Summit House is not one to be missed. Enjoy a casual atmosphere and burgers on the heated deck, which is surrounded by the silhouette of the Uinta Mountain Range.
Near the resort, the Silver Star Café celebrates a long list of accolades—including “Park City’s Best-Kept Dining Secret,” by USA Today—and is home to all-wrapping views of the Wasatch Back mountains, ski resort, town and golf course. Enjoy the hidden gem Thursday through Saturday and you’ll also jam to live music, including jazz, blues, bluegrass or acoustic folk.
Nothing compares to the jigsaw puzzle of the Tetons. At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, take the famous Aerial Tram 4,139 feet up from the valley floor to experience jaw-dropping 360-degree views from the summit of Rendezvous Mountain. From the top, step into Corbet’s Cabin for a bite of tradition: waffles! You can smell them baking with every step toward the door. Corbet’s Cabin closes doors at 2:45 p.m., so for a later après-ski or dinner, head up Bridger Gondola to Piste Mountain Bistro and deck, which serves until 9 p.m.
About the Author, Morgan Tilton
An award-winning journalist, Morgan Tilton is a Bronze medalist and two-time Finalist of the 2015 North American Travel Journalists Association Awards Competition for her travel writing. She covers adventure travel and outdoor industry news with work featured in Outside, Teton Gravity Research, SUP Magazine, Backpacker, TransWorld Snowboarding, 5280 (Denver’s city magazine), and CoBiz among others. Raised in Colorado’s stunning San Juan Mountains, she’s a mountain-ultra-trail runner and snowboarder that loves Bluegrass shows, avocados and trucker hats. Her most recent summit: she and four paddlers made the first SUP descent of Utah’s wild Escalante River. Follow Morgan’s trail @motilton and morgantilton.com.
Born in Texas, but raised in the beautiful Salt Lake Valley, I've always known the mountains of Utah to be home. After pursuing duel marketing and business degrees in the Great White North of Logan, Utah, I re-settled near downtown Salt Lake City where I can enjoy the best of both worlds: city life and world-class mountain ranges. You can always find me exploring Salt Lake's foodie scene, skiing at Alta, rock climbing or hiking in the breathtaking Wasatch mountains.