Sawatch Range
Hut system:
Independently owned
Nearest town:

As you drag your fingers across the crude carvings in the cabin’s walls—Susie & Joe Dale 6/14/74, Annela 7-21-69, Kelly Marcotte 12/93—you’ll find it difficult not to think about all the hut-trippers who’ve experienced this place before you. If these walls could talk, they would whisper tales of rowdy pasta dinners, late-night card games, and backcountry canoodling.

But that isn’t the only history lingering in the air at Lost Wonder Hut. Built in the 1950s on an old mining claim, the two-story cabin is tucked into the beautiful—and ghost-town-dotted—Sawatch Range. (You can drive to the ruins of St. Elmo by taking Chalk Creek Drive off U.S. 285 near Nathrop.) If you’re into making your own memories, though, Lost Wonder Hut offers plenty of adventure, starting with the rocky four-wheel-drive-only route up Forest Road 230. After bouncing along for about 2.7 miles, you’ll come upon the hut, with its spacious front porch, picnic table, grill with propane, and solar panels. After heaving your gear inside, plying the trails should be your first priority. From the hut’s front door, travel (this time by foot) another mile along Forest Road 230 to hit the Continental Divide Trail. A steep 1.5-mile ascent will deliver you to Chalk Creek Pass, which offers expansive views of the Sawatch Range. The trail is lightly trafficked; relish the remoteness.

Back at Lost Wonder and worn out in the best way possible, you should kick back on the deck—IPA in hand—before rustling up some dinner on the indoor cookstove. While the water you collected from the nearby spring boils, you can return to musing about all the souls who have found a little bit of peace and, yes, wonder at this remote hideaway.

If You Go

Accommodations: Lost Wonder sleeps up to 16, with a main bunk room and two private rooms with double beds. Visitors rent the entire cabin. The hut has a well-stocked kitchen with a propane cookstove. There’s also an indoor wood-fired heat stove; an outdoor grill; an outhouse with TP; and plastic jugs for collecting water from the adjacent spring.
Your Pack List: Sleeping bags, pillows, food, toiletries
Getting There: It’s a 152-mile drive from Denver to Garfield, where you’ll find the trailhead (with designated parking) on the north side of U.S. 50. The trail starts just behind Monarch Snowmobile Tours & Rentals. Hike or drive along Forest Road 230/Middle Fork Trail for 2.7 miles to reach the hut. In the summer, a four-wheel-drive SUV can handle the road.
Book It: For 14 people, it’s $200 per weeknight and $250 per night from Friday to Sunday and on holidays, from May to October; extra guests are $10 each

Sarah Banks
Sarah Banks
Sarah produces, photographs and researches the photography in the print edition of 5280. In addition, she photographs and writes for 5280.com.