Winter activities abound in Colorado’s natural playground, for adventure sport enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. But what can the frozen landscape of the Rocky Mountains offer to travelers in search of something slightly off the beaten track; for those who are perhaps in search of a cozy getaway without diving into the epicenter of bustling ski resorts and shops lined with over-priced souvenirs?
For those in need of an adventure that blends the beauty of nature with a touch of luxury and who perhaps lack the time to work out the details of an independent backcountry yurt trip, Tennessee Pass Cookhouse in Leadville is one hidden gem of Colorado that may offer the perfect solution.
Upon arriving to this isolated site after a mere two-hour drive from Denver, you will be fitted with your choice of cross country skis or snowshoes (or both, if you are feeling ambitious). Immerse yourself in the snowy wilderness as you spend a few hours exploring the nordic trails, taking breaks to breathe in the chilled winter atmosphere and spectacular views of nearby fourteeners. A nature photographer’s paradise, the wintry setting of this place is indescribable. The peacefulness is overwhelming. Nature’s ability to shelter dormant deciduous flora while evergreens thrive; the vast amount of life sustained under this flawless white blanket sparkles as slanting rays of the winter sun’s unmistakable hue settle between infinite rows of tree trunks.
So awestruck that you have lost track of time, you realize that the warmth of the sun is diminishing and decide to make your way up to the yurt. As you climb higher and the trail becomes narrower, branches brush you with a fine dusting of snow. Wondering what lies ahead, the forest opens unexpectedly and you find yourself in a wide clearing– snow and trees stretch as far as the eye can see, and looming in front of you, the majestic Mt. Massive. Behind you, a small yurt, or mountain hut, beckons you with curling smoke that reaches into the fading blue sky, and the faint aroma of dinner sparks your appetite. You fight the urge to bury yourself in the snow to gaze at the emerging stars, and you slowly trudge through the snow and up to the yurt.
Inside, the frozen mountain air transforms into a sensation that warms your soul. Candles dimly illuminate the interior of the yurt, and the luxury of the meal you are about to be served seems an impossible feat here in this snowy wilderness. Baked brie, fresh croissants, smoked salmon, and grilled elk tenderloin overwhelm your senses. The perfect end to a winter afternoon, you have managed to fulfill your passion for nature in the dead of winter and savor a steaming meal while gazing out a tiny window into one of Colorado’s most pristine backdrops.
Tennessee Pass Cookhouse is located on County Road 22 in Leadville, CO. The activity described in this article is an organized activity called “Ski to Dinner” that must be reserved in advance. www.tennesseepass.com