Eat, Drink, Play: Summit County sleigh ride
Ryan Summerlin December 13, 2011
In Frisco, some distance behind the adventure park visible from the state highway, hidden by hills and trees is a little hut lit with Christmas lights, alive with music and steeped in the smell of cocoa and comfort food.
The only way to get there is by sleigh.
Or rather, at Christmastime, the best way to get there is by sleigh.
Even in a place that specializes in once-in-a-lifetime experiences, Two Below Zero’s dinner sleigh rides stand out. In December, the icy-cold evening excursion, which carries bundled guests out to the dinner site in a sleigh by moonlight, is downright magical.
Sleigh rides leave from the Frisco Nordic Center, where guests are loaded onto one of several mule-drawn carriages on skis.
The sleigh ride is disarmingly beautiful. On clear nights, moonlight illuminates Frisco, sparkling off the snow and casting an eerie glow over the surrounding mountains. The cold quiet is interrupted only by the crunch of skis and hooves on snow, jingle-bells and the conversations aboard the sleighs.
As ears and toes start to get cold, the 15-minute ride to dinner ends and guests are ushered into the warm lodge where set tables and the evening’s entertainment are already waiting.
Both at dinner and on the sleigh, the evening is a group experience. The carriages comfortably seat 14 people, and the ride is generally cold enough to make it tempting to squeeze in and get to know your neighbors. If conversations don’t get started on the ride out, they probably will over dinner, where guests are seated at tables set for 10.
The lodge is big, comfortably seating 60 or more people, and decked out for the holidays with lights, a little stove-like fireplace and a Christmas tree. Like the entire evening, the dinner location has an unmistakable country feel.
As soon as guests arrive at the lodge, Two Below Zero is ready to cure the chill from the ride out with hot cocoa, sweetening the deal with a splash of peppermint schnapps. Local microbrews from the Dillon Dam Brewery and wine by the glass, warm rolls and tortilla soup follow in quick succession.
Dinner is steak, chicken, veggies and a baked potato and the portions are generous. The food is hearty, unpretentious and surprisingly satisfying.
As the diners are scraping the last traces of apple pie off their plates, entertainer David Peel steals the spotlight from the meal.
Peel is almost a combination musician/stand-up comedian. He plays country, Christmas and classic songs, promising there will be something for everybody, but his talents for telling stories and impersonating legendary singers are just as good.
At the end of the night, full and warm, guests are herded back out to the sleighs for a gorgeous ride back to the Nordic Center.
The ride could be a romantic evening for two, but with a kids’ menu and a particularly entertaining rendition of the Disney Mouseketeers’ song after dinner, it’s equally fitting for families.
Reservations for sleigh rides should be made ahead of time.