It’s a colorado conundrum: By the time winter flurries put you in the mood for a hut trip, few spots remain in popular backcountry systems such as the 10th Mountain Division and Braun huts, which can book a year in advance. Now, a new option gives hut-trippers hope for a last-minute adventure: Vagabond Ranch Huts, located north of Granby, combine backcountry accommodation, the potential for sweet turns, and relative availability—till word gets out, that is.
In 2010, a pair of friends converted this family ranch into a cluster of guest cabins offering access to an oft-overlooked pocket of the Never Summer range. Two sprawling lodges (Ranch House and Cascade)
offer shared, hut-style accommodations for dozens—but with plush carpets, flush toilets, and electric
appliances, they feel more like B&Bs than the rustic outposts generally referred to as huts. The two
smaller cabins come closer to that minimalist aesthetic. Ideally sized for couples or families, the more secluded Parkview and River View cabins lack running water but provide attractive decor such as glass mosaic tiles, exposed timbers, and historic stone fireplaces.
In summer, guests drive up to the huts; from December through mid-May, access is via skis or snowmobile on a four-mile groomed route. Free pickup and drop-off at the trailhead are provided for guests who take the train to Granby (prices start at $28 each way on the California Zephyr from Denver’s Union Station). Settle in and strike out into the Never Summers; then, soothe your weary muscles with a soak in the ranch’s outdoor hot tub, where you can take in the view of stunning Cascade Peak. From $34 per person; vrhuts.com.
THINGS TO DO – Trail Map
Manageable, 200-foot hills around the huts make good practice pitches. But the best slopes require snowmobile access, so bring your own sled or rent one at the huts ($150 and up).
The small, on-property trail network is groomed for skate skiing. Or, use touring skis or snowshoes and follow the nearby Bill Creek and Meadow trails, which form a four-mile loop.
Located within the Grand Lake trail system and its 300 miles of groomed snowmobile paths, Vagabond also offers access to backcountry snowfields on Gravel Mountain and Stillwater Pass.