Dining and Dashing Through the Snow

Snowshoeing to Tennessee Pass Cookhouse

Snowshoeing to Tennessee Pass Cookhouse.

I had heard of the violet hour before, as well as the green hour and yellow hour, but never the blue hour. It wasn’t until I was standing at the edge of a dense forest, about to snowshoe along a well-worn trail in the snow, that I thought to myself, “If there is such a thing as the blue hour, surely this is it.” The sun had disappeared behind a distant mountain range, its radiant glow diffusing along the ridgeline, while the moon had already risen on the other side of us, turning the glittery, white snow into a soft blue hue. It was about 5:15 p.m. on Christmas day, and we were on our way to Tennessee Pass Cookhouse, a quaint, candlelit restaurant housed in a remote yurt, which you can reach via snowshoes, cross country skis or snowmobile. For novelty’s sake (and so I could finally cross it off my list of things to do in Colorado), my boyfriend and I opted for snowshoes.

The moon through snowy forests

The moon through snowy forests.

Even though the trail is only about a mile long, it winds through stands of towering pine trees, making the journey seem like more of a backwoods adventure than it really is. And then there’s the stillness. The muffled quiet of snow drenched forests punctuated only by the crunch of our snowshoes made us feel as though we were in another era, as though we were actually going back in time for dinner. My mind wandered to the Little House on the Prairie books that I loved so much while growing up, and I vaguely recalled childhood fairytales, in which spirited travelers wandered through forsaken forests and caves, narrowly escaping packs of hungry wolves and devious dragons perched atop beds of gilded coins.

That sensation of being in another time seemed to carry through the evening, as our meal was cooked on a vintage stove, and the menu reflected the rough-hewn sensibilities of a home-cooked meal, with dishes like wild boar sausage, elk tenderloin, chunky mashed potatoes and freshly baked strawberry-rhubarb pie. (Granted, the menu does offer Silver Oak and Staglin wines… you know, in case you want to feel VIP while eating your rustic dinner.)

Cooking dinner by candlelight.

Cooking dinner by candlelight.

Was it expensive? Yep, especially with wine, our dinner definitely entered the price range of fine dining in Denver … BUT if you’re looking for an amazing experience, an intimate place to gather with family or an unbelievably romantic winter adventure, it’s an ideal escape.

Know Before You Go: The Tennessee Pass Cookhouse is approximately 2 hours from Denver, and depending on the weather, all-wheel-drive is recommended. Reservations are a must, and dinner costs $80 per person (not including tip or tax, though it does include snowshoe/ski rentals). Wear hiking boots, and definitely bundle up. (We wore our snowboarding gear since we just came from Copper Mountain, and that seemed like appropriate attire.)

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