Here, in a place deep down in the earth, it’s natural to feel gratitude. But on Thanksgiving, Phantom Ranch makes the day even more special: Only on this day and on Christmas does the kitchen vary its menu from the standard steak, stew, and veggie chili options. Mules trek supplies down to the ranch, where the chef and kitchen staff prepare turkey, gravy, stuffing, and all the sides. A “pie lady” (the name they give the baker, male or female) makes the selection of fruit, pumpkin, and pecan pies. And it’s all from scratch, miles from anywhere.
The meal is extra convivial because a fair number of people rebook every year, which of course means reservations are very hard to come by. The times we’ve gone, we started planning a year ahead, manning the phones in the early-morning hours on the first possible day to book our spots in the dorms, dialing again and again until we got through. But when good things don’t come easy, you appreciate them all the more.