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North America’s Highest-Elevation Restaurant is Located in Summit County, Colorado

Published: January 20, 2023

Arapahoe BasinLast month, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area officially reopened the il Rifugio Italian bistro, the highest-elevation restaurant in North America, located at an elevation of 12,456 feet. The restaurant offers a unique on-mountain dining experience that combines delicious food, stunning views and a cozy atmosphere.

Il Rifugio, meaning “the shelter” or “the refuge” in Italian, provides diners with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and is only accessible by ski lift. The restaurant’s large windows and outdoor deck offer the perfect spot to take in the breathtaking scenery while enjoying a savory, warm meal. The menu features a mix of classic Italian dishes and local specialties.

The restaurant’s wood-fired oven creates delicious pizzas and other Italian favorites such as lasagna and risotto. Il Rifugio also offers a selection of hearty soups, salads, and sandwiches for those looking for something a little more casual.

Il Rifugio first opened in early 2019 in The Snow Plume Refuge building, which also serves as a headquarters for Arapahoe Basin’s ski patrol. Shortly after opening, the establishment was forced to close its doors in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Since then, A-Basin has expanded the space to include additional seating and increased restaurant operations. Patrons of il Rifugio now receive full table service instead of ordering from the counter.

Part of what makes the dining experience at il Rifugio so unique is its chairlift-in, ski-out location. The restaurant is just a short walk from Lenawee Express, Zuma Lift, and Beavers Lift. After visiting the Italian bistro, diners will ski or snowboard down the mountain. It is important to note that the summit has no beginner terrain, so visitors should be comfortable on intermediate runs before visiting and skiing down.

Despite its high altitude location, il Rifugio boasts impressive strides in sustainability efforts. The Snow Plume building has composting toilets, no running water, creates minimal waste, and features the highest solar array in North America on its roof.

The il Rifugio restaurant at Arapahoe Basin is yet another gem of life in Summit County and we couldn’t be happier to celebrate its reopening! Next time you find yourself at A-Basin and in need of a break from the elements, prendere rifugio – take refuge – at il Rifugio.

Learn more about il Rifugio and its menu offerings by clicking here.


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