Lonely Planet Writer

Get off-the-grid in Colorado in a backcountry hut

Colorado is known for its outdoor adventures, but many visitors might not be aware that it’s also home to more backcountry huts and yurts than any other state in the US. A surge of interest in these remote cabins means these amazing spots might not be a secret for much longer.

Estes Park, Colorado. Image by Getty Images

According to Ben Dodge, executive director of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, which operates a network of 34 huts in the Colorado backcountry, hut reservations have increased 22.7% over the past five years, and record numbers of people enter annual lotteries for winter hut space each year. The main draws of Colorado’s backcountry huts, which are generally simple cabins that aren’t accessible by car, are the chances to get off-the-grid and have a unique travel experience with small and medium-sized groups of travelers. But the huts are also a great way to travel sustainably.

The Sisters Cabin is perched at 11,445 feet on Bald Mountain in the Arapaho National Forest. Image by Colorado Tourism

Huts support the local communities around them, according to Dodge. “Huts serve as strong economic engines for communities in a number of ways including bringing in visitors who spend money on food, gas, and other last-minute supplies,” Dodge said. “Hut associations support local vendors by purchasing supplies and services as the huts are maintained and stocked.”

Additionally, the huts are environmentally sustainable. The huts have relatively low carbon footprints. Often powered by solar panels and heated by wood stoves, the huts “reduce consequences to surrounding mountain environments because of their tendency to concentrate use in a relatively small area,” Dodge adds.

New Colorado Backcountry Accommodation to Open this Winter

The new Grand County Huts system plans to establish a network of nine huts in Grand County, Colorado, northwest of Denver. Five huts already exist, such as the High Lonesome Hut, a three-story hut with running water, indoor toilets and a wood stove, set 2.5 miles into the Colorado backcountry.

High Lonesome captured in the summertime. Image by Colorado Tourism

A winter-only hut called “The Sisters Cabin” is slated to open this winter and will be perched at 11,445 feet on Bald Mountain in the Arapaho National Forest. Guests will have to ski or snowshoe their way over 3.5 miles from Breckenridge, Colorado, to access the new hut. The hut will sleep 14 guests and will be powered by a series of solar panels. A wood stove and wood-fired sauna will keep guests toasty, as well.

Opening in December, the Red Mountain Alpine Lodge is Colorado’s newest year-round backcountry lodge. Set within the pristine San Juan Mountains at 11,000 feet, the lodge gives access to some of Colorado’s most beautiful backcountry. Although not the remotest (it’s just 300 yards of Highway 550), it’s still isolated enough that guests can feel alone in the wilderness, while still being within reach of conveniences in Silverton 15 minutes to the South. The lodge can sleep up to 20 people in three private rooms and a loft. Rates for private rooms start at US$379 (€333) per room, including breakfast and dinner.