Hiking hut-to-hut in Colorados high country

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of August 20-26, 1998
Learn-to-sail vacations in the tropics
Hiking hut-to-hut in Colorado’s high country
Uncovering dude ranches in the wild west

Hiking hut-to-hut in Colorado’s high country
Question: Some friends and I would like to spend a week in Colorado next summer. While in the past we’ve gone on multi-day backpacking trips, this time we’re hoping to rent a Forest Service cabin, hut or lodge and use it as a basecamp for shorter hikes and mountain bike rides. How do we find information on the 10th Mountain Division Hut System and any others in the area? Thanks.

Josh Roman
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Adventure Adviser: For starters, pick up a copy of Colorado Hut to Hut, by Brian Litz (Westcliffe Publishers). This compete guide to hiking, biking and skiing Colorado’s backcountry offers extensive info on the 10th Mountain Division Huts as well as other hut networks. Along with suggested itineraries, you’ll find a comprehensive list of contact numbers, recommended equipment lists and suggested guide services. Also, plan on picking up the excellent Trails Illustrated maps once your planning is underway.

Southwest of Vail Pass, the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association is probably the best known and most extensive in North America and is named after the said division of the U.S. Army’s elite ski corps. The 14 different huts provide access to staggering backcountry challenges and are surrounded by several hundred miles of old roads and trails that lace the valleys and peaks between Aspen, Vail and Leadville. Each rustic and roomy hut can accommodate 15 to 17 people and sports mattresses, a wood-burning stove, outhouse facilities, electric lights, propane cookstoves, and plenty of cookware.

Needless to say, securing a spot in these ever-popular huts can be a real challenge. Planning way ahead and being as flexible as possible with dates are your best strategies. Huts are equally as popular in summer and winter. For reservations and information, call the Aspen-based 10th Mountain Division Hut Association at 970-925-5775. Good luck getting through the often-busy line. Other neighboring hut systems worth looking into include the Summit Huts and Trails Association (10th Mountain handles reservations ), the Crested Butte Area Huts (970-349-6201 ), and the San Juan Hut System (970-728-6935).

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