When our friends in Vail suggested that we go to the Tennessee Pass Cook house I had visions of an old log structure, parts and pieces added on with a huge stone fireplace in the center. I suspected the views would be lovely because our hosts said we’d hike a mile up to get to it, starting at a pretty high elevation.
Their recommendation was to go later in our visit so that we’d have time to adjust a bit to the altitude—hovering at almost 11,000 feet.
I was right about the views. They are truly a DesignDestination. Mother nature at her best. But the structure we ate in, was totally unexpected. The cookhouse is in a 32 foot-diameter Yurt.
A yurt is a portable, circular tent-type structure of Mongolian Design. The reason for this choice in this amazing spot is that when the proprietors proposed the restaurant to the State, who owns the land, they were told they had to do a temporary structure so that if the business faltered, they weren’t stuck with an abandoned building.
They researched “temporary structures” and came up with a Yurt.
It works. It houses about 40 people for dinner or lunch. Depending on the season you hike or cross country ski to the site. After making our way through a beautiful trail the vista opened up stimulating ohs and aahs as we watched the sun slide down the western sky behind the mountains. Along the way we enjoyed wild flowers and interesting natural sculptures.
Dinner is hauled up by Jeep and prepared on site. The pace is leisurely allowing for lots of conversation and popping up and down looking at the clouds, mountains and setting sun. Some of us had dessert out on the deck, enjoying an electric gold sunset directly to the west and an eerie pinky glow to the southwest. Tried to capture on camera but just don’t have the skills or equipment. Had to be there at the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse.
We hiked back down the mountain, miner’s flashlights for our heads. Every so often a rustle in the woods gave a Michigander who mostly hangs out on beaches or in urban settings a jolt and the incentive not to dawdle.