Tucked into Colorado’s expansive fir and pine forests sit dozens of backcountry huts—off-the-grid cabins designed as shelter for overnight mountain adventures. They’re located throughout the state, with some taking “rustic” to heart, and others coming completely furnished and with perks like heated floors.
All of the huts, however, require some effort (and snow safety awareness) to get to. Many are accessible by a short snowshoe, while the most remote require lengthy ski tours (aka skinning, or attaching adhesive strips to the bottom of your skis so you can walk uphill). However you get there, the hard-won payoff is a stay at a secluded wood cabin, where you can relax, refuel, and experience the wilds of Colorado without the thrum of too many fellow adventurers.
Here, we’re sharing eight of our top backcountry hut recommendations across the state. Make reservations now—these venues may feel closer to the stars than to civilization, but they’re still popular.
Visit If: You’re Seeking An Achievable Backcountry Challenge
When this Summit Huts Association-operated beetle kill pine-cabin about two hours from Denver opened in January, it became the first new hut in Summit County (a swath of land that includes Breckenridge and Keystone) to do so in more than 20 years. The views on offer of Breckenridge Ski Resort and the Tenmile Range are sublime, but so is the 2,200-square-foot building’s interior: It’s outfitted with solar-powered lights, two indoor toilets, mattress-topped twin beds (it sleeps 14), and even a wood-burning sauna to fight off winter’s chill. The nearly four-mile trail that leads to Sisters, at 11,445 feet, is doable for fit but beginner ski tourers, though the downhill terrain surrounding the cabin is more suitable for intermediate and expert riders.
Visit If: You’re Not Quite Ready To Rough It
We won’t blame you if you decide you want to move into this mountain-chic hut. Located just a half-mile off U.S. Highway 550 near Red Mountain Pass in southwest Colorado, Thelma Hut was crafted from riveted steel siding and blue-hued, beetle kill pine.The result? Its living room is photo-shoot ready, plus it has a shower, flush toilet, and radiant floor heating. Visitors to the privately owned, three-bedroom cabin can also add meals (afternoon soup, dinner, and breakfast) to their stays. Still, none of these amenities compare to the world-class backcountry skiing that can be found in the surrounding San Juan Mountains.
Visit If: You’re An Experienced Backcountry Skier
Reaching the 23-year-old Eiseman Hut outside of Vail is, to put it simply, a slog: You’ll have to take a 7.9-mile trail that requires route-finding skills and plenty of stamina. Part of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association—a nonprofit organization that operates 34 backcountry huts in the state—the log cabin sleeps 16 people and leans rustic (there’s an outhouse and you’ll need to melt snow for water) but still offers welcome amenities (like a wood-burning stove). Avid backcountry skiers and snowboarders will delight in the steep terrain just out the lonesome cabin’s front door. To wit: The operators say it accesses “arguably the best skiing” to be found at any 10th Mountain hut.
Visit If: You’re Bringing Kids Along
Heading into the vast wilderness doesn’t have to be an adults-only pursuit. At Point Breeze Cabin near Leadville, kids are top-of-mind, with an outdoor teepee, high chair, and two portable cribs on offer. (Adults will appreciate that the single-story building, which can hold eight people, has a propane grill and solar refrigerator.) Plus, the well-marked, 0.8-mile approach is manageable even if you’re tugging your tots along on a sled—and lugging all the gear that travels with them. Depending on the avalanche danger, you can keep your footwear light, walking on snowshoes or with just your snow boots. The trails surrounding the spruce-log structure are perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowshoers.
Visit If: You Care About the Topography, Not the Accommodations
You won’t find any running water or electricity at this compact hut in northern Colorado, but it does offer access to the Never Summer Mountains, a range of 17 peaks. Run by family-owned and -operated Never Summer Nordic, Nokhu sleeps six people and is stocked with chopped firewood, kitchenware, a propane cooktop, and a wood-burning stove. The hut sits in the shadow of the namesake Nokhu Crags and various other (avalanche-prone) peaks, making it an ideal spot for experienced skiers and riders. The 1.5-mile winter access route should leave you with enough steam to explore the snowy slopes.
Visit If: You Want Someone Else to Sweat the Details
#BackcountryElevated is an understatement for this year-old remote lodge. The custom-built, Douglas fir-framed cabin looks like an upscale high-country rental was picked up and plopped down on a pristine mountainside at 11,000 feet. Those who make the quick, 300-yard trek are greeted with running water, flush toilets, showers, could-be-in-your-home furniture, chef-prepared meals, and, yes, WiFi. (With three private rooms and a loft, the lodge can sleep up to 20.) But the real treat lies outside the front door: the famed Red Mountain Pass backcountry, which can be experienced on your own or with the aid of the San Juan Mountain Guides (the property is operated by the same folks who own the Ouray-based outfitter).
Visit If: You Need A Break From Resort Skiing
After spending a few days schussing down the trails at Copper Mountain, switch things up by, well, going up. Skin or snowshoe 0.6 miles from the resort’s base (alternatively, you can take a lift up and ski down) to the backcountry gate that marks the start of the real trek to Janet’s—a five-mile haul on a moderate path through pine forests that sees the steepest ascent come during the last mile. Part of the Summit Huts Association, the 3,000-square-foot cabin (which sleeps 20 in four bunk rooms) is cozy, with a front porch that looks toward high-alpine terrain that hovers well above your timberline viewing spot, a wood-burning sauna, and solar-powered lights. The surrounding hills provide everything from low-angle skiing (hi, beginners!) to steep routes that kick you in-and-out of trees.
Visit If: You’re Traveling With A Crew
The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association was named for the U.S. Army division that trained in Colorado during World War II, and Uncle Bud’s honors one veteran, Bud Winter, who was killed in action in Italy. The striking wood-and-stone cabin (which can house 16) north of Leadville was designed to take advantage of the views of Mount Massive, one of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, as well as a combination of big-mountain terrain and mellower, below-treeline options. A 5.9-mile, intermediate trail that switchbacks through aspen and spruce forests, meadows, and Bear Lake leads to your expansive accommodations, which contains plenty of room for playing games, sharing a meal, and simply unwinding.