Arapahoe Basin has announced the grand opening of America’s highest restaurant. The new Il Rufigio at Snow Plume, which sits at 12,456′, first opened its door to the public on January 19th, 2019.
Il Rifugio, or The Shelter, in Italian is located at the top of Lenawee Mountain Lift, where it shares a building with the ski patrol hut. The isolated location requires skis or a snowboard to access. It results in some unique logistical challenges for the staff as well. Chef Jarrod Wright explains,
“We have to bring up clean water, take down dirty water, take up clean dishes, bring down dirty dishes. We have no running water up here.”
Snowcats and snowmobiles do much of the heavy lifting, but the staff also transports food and equipment by ski lift.
The European-style bistro’s menu contains salads, charcuterie boards, paninis, soups, and desserts. Espresso, beer, and wine are also available.
Arapahoe Basin pulls the title off Telluride, whose high-end Alpino Vino situated at 11,966 feet previously held that honor.
Alpenglow Stube and Der Fondue Chessel (11,444′) which share a building at Keystone and Pioneer Crossing (11,400′) at Breckenridge Ski Resort are also honorable mentions for high altitude dining options. No surprise these are all located at ski resorts in Colorado, which are among few areas where altitude meets enough traffic to sustain a business.
Doors are open from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM each day during ski season, essentially any time you’d be able to access the restaurant by lift. However, food service is limited to lunch hours, between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
The restaurant also provides access from The Beavers lift and to The Beavers terrain, as well as immediate access to the Montezuma Bowl and front-side terrain. This central location, between the top of three of Arapahoe Basin’s lifts, makes it a great spot to rendezvous with friends to or grab a quick mid-day bite before getting back after it.