Coloradans have always loved patios, but never more so than during these socially distanced times. While stunning views and cold brews are always welcome, thanks to COVID-19, we’re also safer dining in the great outdoors. The really great outdoors, when you’re in the Colorado Rockies. Don’t forget your sunscreen — and especially your mask — when making your way to one of these ten favorite mountain patios, which range from swanky to funky.
Has anyone seen our sunglasses?
Bucksnort Saloon15921 Elk Creek Road, Pine
Rip-roaring, Harley-revving good times are on tap at the Bucksnort Saloon, a rustic, graffiti-covered cabin up a narrow valley that once housed the Sphinx Park Mercantile. Enjoy a pint of Antler Ale while overlooking Elk Creek, and don’t forget to snag a slice of the signature Ice Cream Pie.
Garfinkels536 East Lionshead Circle, Vail
Brah, there can be only one Garf's...and nobody calls it Garfinkels. This Vail institution has been doing ski bums a solid since 1993, and the enormous deck lets you see all the action on the slopes. The wings are righteous, the service friendly, and the Shot Wheel — we’ve all spun it at least once. (We won’t talk about that weekend if you won’t.)
Highside Brewing720 Main Street, Frisco
Ahoy! If beer, barbecue and boats are your jam, you’ll love Highside Brewing, with its wide-open marina views and a spacious patio. The smoked tri-tip sandwich is outstanding, laced with chimichurri sauce, chipotle mayo and pickled red onion and served on a toasted ciabatta bun. Ask for extra jalapeño-and-garlic coleslaw...and definitely more beer.
Homestead Bar & Grill303 River Valley Ranch Road, Carbondale
With one of the best chefs in the Roaring Fork Valley, Homestead offers far more than your usual golf-course fare. Order at the walk-up window and wait at your well-spaced table for pulled-pork sliders or a buttery lobster roll while enjoying a stunning, front-row view of Mount Sopris.
Last Stand Tavern32138 CO-72, Golden
The Last Stand Tavern, up Coal Creek Canyon, has an umbrella-shaded deck looking out over gorgeous scenery. It housed two different European restaurants before it was reimagined as a sports bar in 2017; today, Last Stand Tavern offers a hearty all-American menu, including an excellent bourbon grilled cheese sandwich and a lip-smacking peanut butter pie. The bar also boasts an enormous beer can collection; bring in a can it doesn’t already have and you’ll score a free beer!
The Mishawaka Inn13714 Poudre Canyon Road, Bellvue
Classic eats, river beats — the restaurant at this iconic music venue (no concerts at the moment) is a dandy place to while away an afternoon on the Poudre (during which you’ll find it increasingly difficult to say “Poudre”). Settle in on Mishawaka's spacious riverside deck and go for the burger, washed down with one (or more) brews from Fort Collins hometown favorite Odell Brewing Co.
Morrison Inn301 Bear Creek Avenue, Morrison
Killer margs, mighty good Mexican food and a rooftop patio with lots of umbrellas have made the Morrison Inn a sunny afternoon and pre-Red Rocks staple since 1979. Even with nothing booked at Red Rocks, it’s worth a visit. Enjoy the complimentary chips and salsa — the kitchen serves 50,000 pounds of the combo a year — while anticipating “The Burrito That Ate Juarez” or the blackened fish tacos.
Nest Pool Bar130 Wood Road, Snowmass
Located adjacent to the Viceroy Hotel’s outdoor pool and directly on the trails of Snowmass, this poolside bar is open to the public and harks back to the sultry ’70s. Hike, bike or ski straight to the Nest for ceviche and spritzes, then throw down with life-sized Jenga, cornhole or ping-pong.
Riff Raff on the Rio356 East Pagosa Street, Pagosa Springs
Which came first, the hot springs or the cold beer? Take your pick at the popular Riff Raff brewpub in Pagosa Springs, which has an impressive patio view of the San Juan River and Wolf Creek Pass. (Watch for the alpenglow!) Riff Raff lists a good selection of house-brewed beers and a standout Cobb salad, packed with crispy chicken and adorned with a puckery, beer-brined egg.
Willow Creek29029 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen
Feast your eyes on Evergreen Lake from the patio of Willow Creek, only 35 minutes from Denver. Willow Creek boasts a nice beer and wine selection, a small but well-curated menu, and ample parking. If you’re lucky, you might spot a moose going for a swim while you’re tucking into your truffle fries.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.