10th Mountain Division Huts You Need to Visit

These alpine refuges offer simplicity and shelter in the Colorado high country

Harry Gates hut is the largest of the Tenth Mountain owned huts. It has two floors and can sleep 16. (Photo: Courtesy Craig Hoffman)
Harry Gates hut is the largest of the Tenth Mountain owned huts. It has two floors and can sleep 16.

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Choosing a favorite among the 34 backcountry cabins managed by the Tenth Mountain Division Hut Association of Colorado is kind of like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Each hut in the system is named in honor a famed World War II unit that specialized in mountain and arctic warfare, was built by the nonprofit organization for public use, and offers something unique. Some are big and easily accessible. Others are tiny and remote. But no matter which you choose, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of mountain peaks or pristine forests. I’ve been going on hut trips in the Centennial State since 2000 and have a few recommendations.

The Sisters Cabin

(Photo: Courtesy 10th Mountain Division Hut Association)

Location: Arapahoe National Forest
Elevation: 11,445 feet
Closest Town: Breckenridge
Cost: $50 per person per night

When the Sisters Cabin started taking reservations in January, it became the first new hut to open on public land in Colorado in more than two decades. The 2,200-square-foot space sleeps up to 14 and has indoor composting toilets, a wood-fired sauna, epic ski terrain nearby, and unrivaled views of the Tenmile Range and Blue River Valley. But what really makes this place stand out is its style: the cabin features enormous picture windows and a modern, functional layout. Plus, the indoor composting toilets mean you can relieve yourself at midnight without having to brave the elements.

Fowler Hilliard

(Photo: Courtesy 10th Mountain Division Hut Association)

Location: White River National Forest
Elevation: 11,500 feet
Closest Town: Minturn
Cost: $33 per person per night

One of the few huts with both summer and winter access, this beautiful stone and wood structure looks more like a chalet on its ridgeline perch than a rustic backcountry hut. With timberline views of some of Colorado’s highest peaks in the Elk Range and phenomenal skiing in the bowl right out the front door, it’s the rare hut where you can click in and make turns without any extra effort, meaning it’s a dream getaway for everyone, whether you want to be skinning laps or reading inside by the fire.

Shrine Mountain Inn

(Photo: Courtesy 10th Mountain Division Hut Association)

Location: White River National Forest
Elevation: 11,209 feet
Closest Town: Vail
Cost: $45 per person per night, plus $6 Vail Pass parking fee

Boasting the most creature comforts, Shrine Mountain Inn has running hot and cold water, flushing toilets, a shower and tub, and electricity. Located less than three miles from I-70, it also features one of the least rigorous approaches of all the huts. Comprised of three separate accomodations—Jay’s, Chuck’s, and Walter’s—the easy access and abundance of space make it a great first-time or family trip. 

Benedict Huts: Fritz and Fabi’s

(Photo: Courtesy 10th Mountain Division Hut Association)

Location: White River National Forest
Elevation: 10,970 feet
Closest Town: Aspen
Cost: $33 per person per night

Of all the reasons to recommend these two huts—their beautiful location, modern architectural style, cozy living rooms, amazing skiing—it’s the view of the Elk Mountains from the outhouse that shines brightest. But since you’re going to do more than sit on the crapper, understand this: these shelters are peaceful, set in an aspen grove, and have a sentimental legacy, having been named after Fritz and Fabi Benedict, Aspenites who helped start the Tenth Mountain Division system.

Friends Hut

Location: Gunnison National Forest
Elevation: 11,370 feet
Closest Towns: Crested Butte and Aspen
Cost: $22.50 per person per night

Nestled in the forest about a thousand feet below Pearl Pass, the dividing line between Aspen and Crested Butte in the Elk Mountains, this tiny hut is well worth the slog it takes to get there. After skinning almost 11 miles uphill from the Crested Butte side or braving the seven-mile approach over exposed avalanche terrain from Aspen, you won’t want to leave the intimate, eight-person abode, and not just because you’ll be tired from the approach. Friends Hut is the adult backcountry equivalent of a child’s treehouse—it’s welcoming, accessible only to those willing to work for it, and offers a refuge from the bigger, crazier world.

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Filed To: Backcountry CampingSkiingColoradoEvergreenWinter
Lead Photo: Courtesy Craig Hoffman
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