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Magic Meadows Yurt Dinner

Butte Buzz Winter

Magic Meadows Yurt Dinner

Crested Butte Magic Meadows Yurt Dinner

Photo: Kurt Reise

Fine dining is an adventure in and of itself—the Chef prepares something unique, taking you through the evening one inspired dish at a time.  You leave feeling like you experienced something you haven’t before, satiated both in body and spirit.

But for those looking for something even bolder, there is a dining experience that is truly unique to Crested Butte, and it’s tucked away down a snowy trail that is illuminated by fire light. 

It’s an experience accessible to all ages.  The only prerequisite is a taste for adventure and willingness to do a little work for something that’s both thrilling and intimate. 

The Crested Butte Nordic Magic Meadows Yurt Dinner will leave you and your loved ones in awe.  In awe of the way the pines look at night, covered with snow.  In awe of the warmth of the wood burning stove, crackling inside the yurt at the end of your journey.  In awe of a meal crafted out of a labor of love, in a backcountry kitchen. 

What makes an experiential dinner something grand and unique?  Whatever it is, the Crested Butte Nordic Center does so in spades. 

The Journey

The sun was setting as I headed to the Crested Butte Nordic Center, our collective Christmas wish for snow had finally arrived, spiraling from the sky in fat flakes.  It was sure to be a wintry journey, the cold of the night settling in as I walked into the Center.

Not entirely sure what to expect, I packed a head lamp, thick beanie and wore my ski pants and jacket.  I expected to get warm during the mile cross-country ski trip to the yurt, however the temperature was hovering in the low 20’s, making me wish I had brought warmer gloves.

If you don’t have a head lamp, Nordic skis or snowshoes, the center supplies them at no extra cost, so don’t fret if you don’t have a full set up.  I received my cross-country gear and headed out the meet the shuttle to the trailhead.  If you happen to have your own vehicle, you can head out towards the yurt on your own—the trail is lit with tiki-torches, so a guide is not necessary for the independent types. 

Myself and number of other folks loaded into the Nordic Center van and were off to the trail head.  Upon arrival, myself and my partner in crime clicked into our skis and decided to head out ahead of the rest of the group.  I’m new to Nordic skiing, but had taken a lesson with the center a couple weeks prior, so I felt confident in my skills on the relatively flat track.  My partner on the other hand had never been on a pair of skis in his life—but with confidence he clicked in and we were off.   

The night was calm, the snow layered up on the hood of my coat and made the tiki-torches crackle as we skied by.  The dark of the night and the gently falling snow was reminiscent of skiing in a snow globe.

We occasionally passed groups of snowshoers and slower skiers, everyone laughing and enjoying the challenge.  If you’re unsure of your Nordic skiing abilities, have a lesson before hand—I can personally attest to how rewarding it is to have a few basic skills under your belt before heading out on your own!

Around a bank of trees, the warmly lit yurt peeked out, holiday lights festively twinkling around the entrance.  After leaning our skis and poles up outside, we went into the yurt, with the heat of the wood burning stove beckoning.

Photo: Xavier Fane

The Meal

The heat of the wood stove was shocking at first, having been out in the elements for about 20 minutes, so I quickly ditched my ski pants and jacket, and opted for the outfit I had planned to wear for the evening.  It seemed many folks wore lighter touring gear, so as not to have to worry about taking off ski pants.  Other people thought ahead and brought slippers to wear while they dined, leaving their ski boots at the door.

There were multiple family style tables set up, and we quickly found our names on place cards.  The meal is all inclusive, so we wasted no time heading back to the bar to sample Elevation Brewery Beer, a variety of wines, and a Montanya Rum cocktail, aptly named the “winter coat.” 

Photo: Xavier Fane

Settling in to our tables, and our drinks, we met our table-mates who were all incredible company.  The chef announced what we would be feasting on and we were quickly presented with the Hors D’oeuvres.  The lovely staff mingled with guests and chit-chatted, while wasting no time making sure we were all well fed and our glasses were filled. 

Having food allergies forces those of us afflicted to sometimes avoid dining experiences such as this—fixed meal plans can make being choosy difficult.  I was incredibly relieved, and very excited when the Crested Butte Nordic informed me they can accommodate food allergies and preferences, within reason.  I enjoyed an amazing meal, without feeling left out or underfed. 

The evening progressed through the delicious 5-course meal, the wonderful conversation and tunes played by Bill Dowell, local musician and Director of Ski Patrol with Crested Butte Mountain Resort.  Perfect strangers bonded over wine and stories, planning coffee dates and swapping emails.  And eventually we all parted ways, feeling more like close-friends than the strangers we had been skiing in.

Photo: Xavier Fane

The Trip Home

Full and happy, we donned our ski gear and prepared for the trip back to the shuttle—what skis in, must ski out.  The snow had really begun to fall while we ate, stacking fresh powder on the trail.  While this proved to be a bit more of a challenge to ski on, compared to the groomed trail we had on the way in, the wine and food had me convinced I would be just fine. 

I was amazed at how quickly the return trip to the trailhead was, compared to going out.  I guess reminiscing on the evening’s conversation, the delicious food, and with the snow spiraling down in huge flakes, I was perfectly content in the moment, not eager to be anywhere else. 

Photo: Xavier Fane

Trip Recommendations

The Crested Butte Nordic Center does an incredible job making sure you’re prepared and comfortable during the entire Magic Meadows Yurt dinner experience, but here’s a couple recommendations for first timers:

  • Bring heavy gloves—if you’re skiing, you’ll be using poles, which means you can’t tuck chilly fingers into your pockets!  Take it a step further with hot-packets to stuff into big gloves.
  • Don’t forget a beanie or (at the very least) an ear-warming head band—even though you’ll be getting warm on the journey out, your ears will be exposed to the elements, so prepare accordingly!
  • If you don’t want to be stuck in ski boots, or be in your socks during dinner, bring a pair of slippers—something lightweight and easy to pack would be perfect to tuck inside your jacket pocket or into a small backpack!
  • Pack a head lamp if you have one—while the CB Nordic Center will supply head lamps, I always like using my own equipment.
  • Get familiar with Nordic skiing before your Yurt Dinner—the trail out is short and easy, but having even a few of the basics under your belt will make your trip that much better.  If you’re not comfortable skiing, don’t worry, they have snowshoes you can use instead!

The Magic Meadows Yurt dinner in Crested Butte was something off the beaten path, and truly special.  The people that attend are cheerful and friendly, especially after an energizing jaunt through the snow.  If you’re looking for a dining adventure, look no further—the Crested Butte Nordic Center has you covered.  Book your Magic Meadows Yurt dinner soon, reservations fill up fast!  Happy adventuring!

- Cayla Vidmar