Great food? Check. Incredible views? Check. Easy access? Well... you'll have to work a bit for it. These seven back-country restaurants require patrons to board a snowcat or step into a pair of skis -- but the effort will be totally worth it.
Alpino Vino, Telluride Ski Resort (Colorado)
You can ski in for lunch, but if you want to enjoy dinner at the highest fine-dining restaurant in North America, at nearly 12,000 feet, you’ll have to take a snowcat to the top of Gold Hill. Opt for the Italian-themed, five-course tasting menu for a true gourmet experience. $125, plus an additional $60 for wine pairing.
The Montana Dinner Yurt, Big Sky Resort (Montana)
Two enclosed snowcats, Betsy and Dolly, transport diners from the Summit Hotel at Big Sky Resort to the edge of Lone Peak for a multi-course meal of French onion soup, filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes, and Toblerone fondue. The feast is followed by stargazing and sledding, and while the yurt restaurant does not serve alcohol, you can bring your own. $97.
Cloud Nine Bistro, Aspen Snowmass (Colorado)
Aspen Snowmass offers two restaurants accessible only by snowcat in the evenings. Cloud Nine Bistro is the more upscale of the two and includes a mug of Gluhwein before the climb to nearly 11,000 feet. We like to score a seat near the wood-burning fireplace ($135, beverages not included). Lynn Britt Cabin is a family-friendly, four-course meal with live entertainment. $135 at Cloud Nine Bistro; $99 at Britt Cabin; alcohol not included.
Parallax, Mammoth Mountain (California)
You know you’re in for an elegant evening when you're greeted at Mammoth Mountain Inn with a glass of champagne. A short snowcat ride takes you to Parallax at 9,600 feet where you’ll enjoy a four-course dinner of seasonal fare. $99.
Beano’s Cabin, Beaver Creek Mountain (Colorado)
Beaver Creek Mountain also has two restaurants that are only accessible in the evenings by an open-air sleigh pulled by a snowcat. Beano’s Cabin -- named for the man who once farmed lettuce here, Frank “Beano” Bienkowski -- serves hearty dishes like venison, lamb, and beef tenderloin. Honoring late deputy sheriff Zach Allen, Zach’s Cabin A Wine Spectator award-winning restaurant. $155 for fixed price menu at Beano's Cabin; prices vary, but expect to pay $75 to $100 per person, plus a $5 ride fee, at Zach's Cabin.
Paradise Camp, Silver Star Mountain Resort (British Columbia)
During the day, Paradise Camp warms skiers with hot beverages and hearty breakfasts and lunches, but on Friday and Saturday nights, the rustic cabin at Silver Star Mountain Resort becomes a fine dining establishment lit by candles and lanterns. Snowcats depart for the restaurant near the Powder Gulch lift at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m., or you can opt to ride a snowmobile there, instead ($224). $79 for a 3-course meal, alcohol not included.
Tennessee Pass Cookhouse, Tennessee Pass Nordic Center (Colorado)
The only way to get to the off-the-grid at Tennessee Pass Cookhouse is to ski to it. Your evening begins at 5:30 p.m. at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, where you’ll receive Nordic skis or snowshoes and a headlamp. From there, you trek to the yurt to dine on the likes of grilled elk tenderloin, rack of lamb, stuffed chicken, or salmon. After dinner, don your skis or snowshoes, flip on the headlamp, and head back to the Nordic Center. (All right, if you simply really can’t walk or ski, other transportation can be arranged -- but what's the fun in that?) $85, alcohol not included.