Exploring Stunning Colorado Hut Landscapes


The Colorado hut landscapes showcase a diverse array of breathtaking natural beauty, ranging from rugged mountain peaks to pristine alpine meadows. Scattered throughout these landscapes are secluded backcountry huts, providing intrepid travelers with a distinctive chance to delve into Colorado’s wilderness while relishing in rustic accommodations.

This one-of-a-kind hut system enables visitors to embark on self-guided multi-day adventures in terrain that would otherwise remain out of reach to most.


  • Colorado is home to various hut systems that facilitate backcountry travel and overnight stays.
  • The huts provide access to stunning alpine scenery and unique outdoor activities.
  • Planning ahead for hut trips is essential, given their remote locations.
  • Huts emphasize sustainable practices, and some offer educational programming.
  • Recent efforts have focused on improving hut accessibility and inclusivity.

A Landscape of Peaks and Passes

The Colorado Hut experience centers around the state’s dramatic peaks, passes, and valleys. The huts themselves are strategically situated to open up vast swaths of terrain for skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and mountain biking while also providing a warm and dry place to stay overnight. Most huts have bunk-style sleeping quarters, shared common spaces, cooking facilities, and composting toilets. Diehard outdoor enthusiasts can link together multiple huts over several days to create a hut-to-hut adventure.

The remoteness of the backcountry huts is part of what makes this travel experience so unique. Visitors can immerse themselves in nature without crossing paths with more than a handful of people. Stargazing takes on a whole new meaning at over 12,000 feet, where the night skies explode with dazzling clarity. Quiet moments spent journaling or photographing the surrounding landscapes are a welcome respite from everyday life.

Rich History and Local Tradition

Several of Colorado’s most iconic hut systems originated in the state’s storied mining and ranching eras. For example, the 10th Mountain Division Hut System consists of 34 huts that were built along the training routes and battle sites of the 10th Mountain Division, a U.S. Army mountain warfare unit that fought in Italy during World War II. Many division veterans returned after the war to help build Colorado’s ski industry and establish this hut network.

In southwest Colorado, the San Juan Hut System follows old mining roads through the historic towns and mountains of the San Juan Range. Riders can experience the living culture of this region by booking a guided hut-to-hut mountain bike trip from Durango to Moab. Knowledgeable local guides share stories, history, and insights about the land along the way.

Nestled within the Colorado State Forest State Park, near Gould, Colorado, the Nokhu Hut boasts a secluded location amidst the breathtaking Rocky Mountain vistas.

Various backcountry huts and cabins near Colorado Springs offer outdoor recreation opportunities: Barr Camp, A-Frame Cabin at Mueller State Park, Frosty’s Park, The Crags Campground, and Mount Rosa Cabin. These all offer perfect locations for hiking, biking, skiing, and wildlife viewing.

Adventures for All Seasons

The Colorado huts offer prime access for skiing and snowboarding throughout the winter and spring. Expert skiers can challenge themselves on steep, untracked lines accessed directly from the huts. Many huts also have networks of snowshoe trails that cater to different ability levels. Multi-day hut-to-hut ski trips like the Colorado Trail and Haute Route have achieved legendary status among backcountry skiers.

As the snow melts in summer, Colorado’s high peaks transform into a paradise for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking. Families with younger children can opt for guided day trips from more accessible huts like the Green Wilson Hut near Aspen. Teenagers often enjoy learning wilderness skills like orienteering and snow shelter construction offered through programs at some huts. Many huts also allow visitors to bring their dogs on summer trips.

Models of Sustainability

The ecological sensitivity of Colorado’s high-altitude environment necessitates sustainable practices to minimize the impact on visitors. Most huts utilize renewable energy systems, composting toilets, and responsible waste management programs. Some backcountry lodges, like the Green Mountain Lodge in the San Juan Mountains, meet the highest standards for sustainability, having been constructed from reclaimed materials and designed to optimize solar gain.

Hut visitors play a critical role in maintaining the pristine wilderness through responsible behaviors. All huts promote “Leave No Trace” land ethics, and some like the Friends Hut near Steamboat incorporate these principles into their programming. Following designated routes, properly disposing of waste, and leaving sites as they were found preserves these fragile alpine areas for generations to come.

Planning Your Hut Adventure

A hut trip requires more forethought and preparation than most backpacking excursions given the extreme environments and lack of resources along the way. Visitors should research route conditions, terrain, and potential hazards like avalanches or wildlife encounters based on the time of year. Most huts offer winter travel skills courses and maintain information on snowpack stability.

Packing adequate gear and clothing is also key to comfort and safety. Huts provide blankets, but visitors must bring their own sleeping bags and pads. Headlamps, water bottles, sun protection, first aid and repair kits constitute other hut trip essentials. In winter, shovels, traction devices, and avalanche transceivers may be necessary depending on the route.

From Backcountry Cooking to Fine Dining

The remote settings of the Colorado huts present some unique culinary experiences. Guests can channel their inner chef to prepare tasty backcountry meals using ingredients brought from home or available at the huts. Some larger lodges like Skinner Hut have well-equipped kitchens and dining areas where groups can gather to share epicurean feasts.

For those seeking a more pampered mountain getaway, Colorado also offers several upscale hut-to-hut ski experiences that involve gourmet dining and wine pairings along the route. Both the Crested Butte and Telluride hut trips offer extravagant meals featuring regional flavors and wines served by professional staff within spectacular alpine settings.

Expanding Access and Inclusion

Recent initiatives have focused on enhancing accessibility, affordability, and diversity within Colorado’s hut communities. Several huts have added amenities to support visitors with disabilities, such as the wheelchair-accessible Eiseman Hut near Vail. Some lodges offer financial aid or work opportunities for underresourced groups. Outreach efforts also aim to engage more women, families, and minorities in the hut experience through specialized trips and leadership training.

Lifelong Learning and Connection

Beyond reveling in the natural splendor, hut trips also create space for learning, reflection, and community. Visitors can attend naturalist programs to understand local ecology or develop wilderness skills during multi-day youth expeditions. Solo travelers often forge profound connections with newfound friends in the communal hut lifestyle. Others discover new passions for conservation or outdoor education sparked by their time in Colorado’s high peaks.

Within the expansive wilderness of Colorado’s backcountry huts, the essence of the state emerges vividly – a deep respect for the majestic peaks, a thirst for snowy escapades, and a resilient bond formed through conquering obstacles together. Those who traverse these landscapes depart with indelible memories and valuable teachings that will forever enhance their existence beyond the confines of these mountain ranges.


How do I make reservations at Colorado Huts?

Most hut systems have online reservation systems, but booking early is key as spaces fill up quickly, especially for winter trips. Some smaller huts operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Shared bunk rooms typically sleep 6-20 people. Larger groups can sometimes reserve entire huts.

What is the best time of year to visit Colorado huts?

Winter and spring offer skiing and snowshoeing with smaller crowds. Summer sees the most visitors hiking and biking the trails. Early fall brings splendid colors along with crisp days and cold nights, perfect for hut trips. Whenever you go, prepare for extreme mountain weather.

Do I need any previous mountaineering experience for hut travel?

Beginners can enjoy many hut trips, but having basic backcountry skills helps ensure a safe, enjoyable adventure. Some hut systems offer introductory courses in winter travel, avalanche safety, navigation, and wilderness first aid. Visitors should assess their fitness level and acclimatization needs as well.

How accessible are the huts for older visitors or people with disabilities?

Several huts have added accessibility features, but most require the ability to traverse steep, uneven terrain. Inquire with individual huts about specific accommodations for people with limited mobility. Some guided hut trips cater to older visitors.

Can I bring my dog to the huts?

Many Colorado huts allow dogs, though some restrict larger breeds. Expect to keep dogs leashed and follow any rules about where they can sleep. Owners must pack out all dog waste. Rental cars and shuttle services may prohibit dogs, so plan transportation accordingly.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at ReadyColorado.com. My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.