- Cross country ski or snowshoe into the wilderness to a cabin with a wood stove ready to warm your hands.
- Take the entire family out to Shrine Mountain Inn, a perfect location for kids to experience the winter outdoors.
- Huts fill up early, so make sure to plan your trip and make reservations as soon as possible.
Visiting a backcountry ski hut in the middle of winter can be a magical experience. Most hut visitors are seeking a similar sense of adventure, peace, and closeness to the great outdoors. Because space is limited, the most difficult decision to make when planning backcountry hut trips is who to invite.
Where to go on a Hut / Yurt Ski Trip
Shrine Mountain Inn
This is a great option for beginners or kids. Just because the hike is short, however, doesn't mean the views and the wilderness experience is diminished. That's one of the great things about the area: just a short distance from the highway, nature is at one's fingertips.
- The hike is 2.7 miles from the Vail Pass Trailhead (I-70 exit 190). Three cabins are clustered together at 11,209 feet for a total capacity of 36 people.
Sangree M. Froelicher Hut
This is a popular 3.5 mile hike to the hut, located just below timberline. It provides excellent access to Buckeye Peak, so make sure you plan enough time for an excursion to the summit, which is an quick, but rewarding, jaunt.
- The hut is located at an elevation of 11,700 feet and holds 16 people. The trail starts at Buckeye Gulch Trailhead, located on the north side of Highway 91, 20 miles south of Copper Mountain.
Janet's Hut to Fowler/Hilliard Hut
Try linking two huts together for a great backcountry experience. This trip starts at the Union Creek Trailhead, which is located off the Alpine Lot in Copper Mountain. Rising from 9,820 feet to the hut at 11,610 feet, this 5.5 mile trail follows Guller Creek Trail for some great backcountry ski touring. Janet's hut holds 20 people. After taking a night to rest your body for the long slog the next day, grab a hearty breakfast for the Upper Stafford Creek Route, connecting to Upper Wilder Gulch. This will take the weary skier to the Fowler/Hilliard Hut, located at 11,500 and housing 16. The last day has a number of options, the most challenging of which is to the Red Cliff Trailhead, a 10.5 mile hike. The easier option is to return via Shrine Mountain Inn, to take a break (or another night) before heading out. Red Cliff Trailhead is located past Minturn off I-70. Take a left immediately before the canyon bridge on Hwy. 24. Shrine Pass Road is on the northeast corner of town, heading up Turkey Creek.
When planning a hut trip into the backcountry, it's important to be up to date on avalanche safety and weather. Make sure you have the appropriate equipment and specific safety skills.
There are quite a few huts that are located in a "safe zone." No avalanche activity has been recorded in these areas and the huts are therefore recommended for hut trips with beginners or children.
Rentals & Fees
Depending on which hut or huts you decide to rent, different fees apply, so call ahead for reservations and prices. These huts fill up fast, so make your decisions early.
If the cabins are in the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area, there is a fee of $6 per person per night. Children 13 and under are free.
Hire a Guide
While most trails are safe and well maintained, taking a guide makes sure the risks are minimized. Also, their intimate knowledge of the backcountry will help increase the group's enjoyment of the trip.