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—Photo by Ross Kribbs

Mountaintop Escapes

We’ve staked out three high-country options for a spring getaway.

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In addition to Telluride’s Tempter House, we’ve staked out three high-country options for a spring getaway. All you need to decide is how you’re getting up the mountain.

If you want rustic…

Jackal Hut, Leadville, 11,660 feet

The trees thin out at this elevation, leaving you with unobstructed views of the Continental Divide and, once the sun goes down, a stunning starry night sky. There’s room for 16 people—one double bed and 14 singles—at this no-frills retreat, but you’ll have to get there on your own; Jackal Hut is only accessible by a steep 4.7-mile hike, skin, or snowshoe. Like many other 10th Mountain Division huts, Jackal’s got just the basics: a wood-burning stove and oven, a propane cooktop, and outdoor toilets. Guests must collect snow to melt for water or lug in their own. The views and access to backcountry glades, though, more than make up for the lack of niceties. $33 per person/night


If you want luxury…

The Smith Cabin, Aspen, 11,300 feet

Yes, the three-bedroom Smith Cabin has Wi-Fi. But we suggest you only use it to cue up the perfect soundtrack on the Bose stereo system. Accessible via a 3.8-mile skin or snowshoe from the Aspen Sundeck, the 998-square-foot mountain sanctuary boasts reclaimed-barn-wood ceilings, pine floors, and a solar energy system. If you can tear yourself away from the handmade leather chairs and the large wood-burning stove, mile upon mile of backcountry awaits. You just have to choose your chariot: snowmobile, snowshoes, or skis. But get back in time to enjoy sunset views of the Maroon Bells from the deck. $2,700 per night; $2,000 per night for two or more nights


If you want adventure…

Opus Hut, Telluride, 11,765 feet

If you’re looking for deep snow in every direction, head to this Ophir Pass hut just south of Telluride. A 3.5-mile skin up the unplowed Ophir Pass Road delivers you to this hostel-style abode, which sleeps 16 and offers running water (cold and hot!), big powder days, and an in-house bartender to pour warming cocktails before dinner. If you really want to avoid all things DIY, you can pay for meal service sans lunch ($40/day) and backcountry guiding (from $100) from owner Bob Kingsley, who says late spring often provides the season’s best conditions. The sauna, of course, remains blissful any time of year. $40 per person/night

—Photos by (from top) Jack Brauer, Ross Kribbs, Opus Hut

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