By Frankie Spontelli
If you plan accordingly, enjoying an on-mountain meal at Vail doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour. With numerous locations to grill your own slopeside lunch, you can be the five-star chef and cook for your crew. Why not take after the locals and experience a grill out on top of the slopes? To help you enjoy this local pastime, we’ve compiled a guide for your grilling pleasure.
Photo: Zach Mahone Photography/Flickr
Prep your supplies the night before. We recommend packing items that are easy to eat (hot dogs, brats, kebabs, etc.). Toss your items into a soft lunch box and divide them into your groups backpacks (locals' tip: utilize the on-mountain dining cafeteria for packets condiments), a few craft beers will act as the perfect insulator for your packed lunch. A Colorado craft brew will taste especially refreshing as you enjoy views of Gore Range and Blue Sky Basin from 10,000 vertical feet now sit back and allow the grill to do the rest of the work.
The best spots for on-mountain grilling at Vail
There are numerous grilling decks located across Vail’s 5,000-plus skiable acres, but finding them can be tricky. One of the busiest grilling spots, most popular to the locals, is Hawk’s Nest scenic overlook and grilling patio located at the top of Chair 4 (Mountain Top express), just past the top of High Noon Express. The views from Hawk’s Nest are remarkable, attracting heaps of hungry skiers and snowboarders to this favorite lunch spot.
Adjacent to Hawk’s Nest is an additional grilling area located just outside Henry’s Warming Hut; a more appropriate grilling area for families and equipped with a warming yurt to keep the little ones warm. Both of these areas offer public grills and are supplied with propane, all you need to bring are your lunch supplies,.
If you’re looking for epic views of Holy Cross Mountain (one of Colorado’s 14ers) and a location to watch skiers tackle Sun Down Bowl, then head over to the Windows Deck. A more secluded grilling area, this deck has been appropriately named because of the outstanding views of Mt. of Holy Cross and the surrounding Colorado Rocky Mountains.
If you’re committed to riding Blue Sky Basin all day long, a lunch cookout can be enjoyed at either Belle’s Camp or Dawg’s Haus picnic. Belle’s Camp is situated at the top of the Skyline Express Lift (#37) the largest of the grilling areas but slightly more difficult to access.
If Game Creek Bowl is your level of terrain or you plan on spending the day skiing on Vail’s front side, then pack your portable grill and accouterments and head the Ouzo grilling deck when your stomach starts growling. Just at the bottom of the Game Creek Bowl, the Ouzo grilling area stays relatively quiet in comparison to the other grilling decks and is another great place to meet the family for slopeside lunch. This deck does not supply a public grill or have a propane supply so you will need a cold lunch so be sure to plan ahead.
Be sure to clean up, please
It’s incredibly important to be respectful (you're on U.S. Forest Service land after all), so please throw away trash and properly account for your lunch supplies. Also, do your research on which area you plan to visit. Some of these gathering spots have their own gas supply and public grill, while others may just offer a lunch deck with a view.