For those acquainted with hut trips—essentially, backpacking treks that trade tents for remote dwellings—wintertime might seem like the ideal season for the pursuit. After all, the idea of propping your touring skis against the side of a weathered cabin burdened by the weight of heavy white drifts and warming yourself by a potbelly stove after making hero turns is nothing if not romantic. The reality, of course, is a little less dreamy. Someone’s sweat-drenched long johns always seem to be hanging on the banister; unavoidable sock-soaking puddles of melted snow dot the wood floors; and even though the sunny deck looks inviting, the temps are frigid enough to freeze 3.2 beer. And don’t get us started on how difficult it is to haul a 30-pound pack with fiberglass sticks strapped to your feet. Instead, we suggest taking a hut trip during June, July, August, or early September, when the hiking and biking trails are (mostly) dry, wildflowers paint the hillsides, and there’s little need for thermal underwear. Armed with sunscreen, plenty of water and beef jerky, and sturdy hiking boots, a team of 5280 reporters ventured out to experience some of Colorado’s best summertime hut-tripping options. Here, their experiences, advice, and tips, all of which will help you plan your own warm-weather backcountry escapade.
What Kind of Hut Trip Are You Looking For?
Colorado’s high country is rife with antler-bedecked, hot-tub-blessed cabins, but those beauties do not qualify as off the grid. For a truly unplugged hut-style adventure, you’ll have to (mostly) forgo running water, electricity, and cell service. You’ll need to be charmed by sleeping on the top bunk. And you’ll have to dig the idea that the journey is part of the fun.
So how does one find these creature-comfort-less shelters? That’s a good question—without an easy answer. Although there are a few well-known hut systems in Colorado, there are also dozens of U.S. Department of Agriculture cabins and privately owned abodes that deliver similar experiences. With no one clearinghouse for the state’s stash of remote crash pads, we created this not comprehensive yet still handy guide to finding your getaway.
Hut-tripping with kids? Read about one editor’s experience.