The Thompson Guard Station, which was reportedly built in the ‘50s by the Civilian Conservation Corp is one of a handful of cabins that the forest service rents out in the Helena National Forest. The cabin bunks eight and has a wood stove for cooking. You can get within a half a mile of the cabin by car—making a warm-up mandatory. The riding extends out from the hut to a series of small lakes at the four-mile mark. The riding is mellow, mainly double track and horse trails, but there are plenty of options to appease a group with a wide range of abilities. We recommend the 17-mile ride down a relaxed gravel road to White Sulphur Springs, where there are indeed hot springs.
When to go: Early July before things get too hot and dusty. Cost: $30/person: fs.fed.us
Colorado’s Never Summer Mountains, to the northeast of Rocky Mountain National Park, don’t get nearly as much attention as their southerly counterparts. That’s an oversight that can play in your favor when you ride between the Never Summer Yurts. The Yurts feature beds, woodstoves, and cooking setups—and the trails feature no crowds, and miles of riding on a mix of single track and forest service roads in the Colorado State Forest State Park. Yes, that’s really what it’s called.
For a multi-day yurt trip, loop together the Ruby Jewel, Dancing Moose, and Montgomery Pass yurts, or venture a little further to the North Fork Canadian Yurt. The 26-mile trip can be done in four days, and will go by fast, in more ways than one. It's downhill all the way from Ruby Jewel to North Fork Canadian.
When to go: The snow melts late in the Never Summer—hence the name—so hold off until August. Cost: $60-75/night; neversummernordic.com
Sun Valley screams upscale with its ballet company, the Sun Valley Ballet School, and it’s penchant for wine festivals, but Ketchum is serious about all things two-wheeled, with bike-focused companies Scott and Smith using the surrounding world-class riding to draw in passionate employees.
Reserve the Coyote Yurt, which is actually two yurts built at 8,700 feet. The trip isn’t hut-to-hut, per se, but staying in the yurt gets you out-the-door access to Sawtooth single track, with rides like Fox Peak and Curley’s, knowing for their fast, flowing descents.
Sun Valley Trekking, which operates the yurt, will bring you multiple course meals that range from local trout to Thanksgiving dinner and guide you. Or, you can brave it alone and bring in your own stock of Guinness and grillables.
When to go: Wildflower season, between early July and mid August. Cost: $25/person/night for the Yurt. If you want full service, including a guide, yurt rental, food, and transport, it’s $230/person; www.svtrek.com
Eastern Washington’s Methow Valley, whose bottom is filled with trails and nordorks, has been a Mecca for cross-country ski hut-to-hut trips since the mid eighties. The valley is prime for riding, too.
Last year, the owner of the Rendezvous Huts decided to open two of the shelters to bikers in the shoulder season. You can book the wood frame Rendezvous and Gardner huts, which both sleep eight and have full kitchens, from April to July and September to October. There are trails out the door of both huts, and you can easily link them for a multi-day trip.
The classic ride in the area is the 13-mile Buck Mountain loop, which starts off at route 20 near Winthrop and climbs 1,300 feet through forest and sagebrush. If you can’t stand to be separated from your four-legged companion, don’t worry, the Rendezvous hut allows dogs.
When to go: The huts are only open to bikers in the spring and fall. May is prime for wildflowers. Cost: $100/person; rendezvoushuts.com
The slickrock canyons of eastern Colorado and western Utah holds some of the best biking in the country. Backcountry Biker, based out of Fruita, Colorado, runs two different supported hut trips through the Colorado National Monument—the four-day Tabaguache trip and the three-day Dominguez route. Both rides drop from Fruita through the Uncomphagre plateau to Gateway, on the Dolores River.
You’ll have full backup on either ride. Backcountry Biker—which is run by a highly eager fellow named Kevin who calls himself The Hut Guy—will schlep your gear and drop food and beer at the huts. The huts sleep six comfortably and eight cozily, each one has a full bike maintenance setup inside.
The trips end at the riverside Gateway Canyons Resort, which features a spa and access to the Dolores river. If you’re feeling really swanky, or just worn out, add an extra night there onto your trip and put some meat back on your bones by grubbing on the buffalo meatloaf with red onions at the Paradox Grill.
When to go: Fall, when the canyons start to cool off. Cost: $575/person for the Tabaguache; $425 for the Dominguez; backcountrybiker.com