Looking to plan a trip that’s quintessential Colorado? Trying to stay within a tight budget? Interested in exploring the Colorado wilderness year-round? If you’ve never considered a hut trip, now’s your chance.
What’s a Hut Trip?
The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association is a non-profit that oversees maintenance of a system of “huts” – backcountry cabins that have been built throughout the state of Colorado. There are 34 huts total, and while the term may seem to imply a small, temporary shelter, 10th Mountain has worked hard to create accommodations that are sturdy, spacious, and well equipped.
Why “10th Mountain”?
The 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. army trained in Colorado during the early 40’s in preparation for World War II. Because much of the war took place in highly mountainous terrain in Europe, training in the high elevation of the Rocky Mountains was excellent preparation for deployment. The soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division ended up making key contributions in several battles once they arrived in Italy in 1945. Much of the Hut system covers the same region of Colorado where these men trained.
Planning a Hut Trip
Hut trips can be done both in the summer and in the winter. For backcountry skiers, a winter hut trip is the perfect opportunity to access new terrain. Winter hut trips are demanding however; in addition to avalanche danger and variable weather conditions, it is important to have basic skiing knowledge as the trail to and from the hut will not be groomed. Summer hut trips provide more consistent trail conditions and easier packing. Regardless of the time of year, a hut trip is going to be a physically demanding activity. Routes are 6 or 7 miles long on average and often occur at elevations of 8000 feet or higher. Many routes have an elevation gain of 1000 to 2000 feet. Before planning a hut trip, it is important to be certain that all participants a physically capable.
Choosing a Hut Trip
The website for 10th Mountain provides fantastic information on the different huts, which will help narrow down the best option for your trip. There are also numerous guidebooks that can provide additional detail. Purchasing a topographic map can also help in planning and is vital while on the trip. When choosing a trip, it’s important to consider location, trail difficulty and length, hut capacity, and when the hut is open (many huts are only open for part of the year). It is also important to check availability. Reservations are required.
Looking for Other Activities Before or After?
AVA Colorado Rafting is Colorado’s premier adventure tour operator with trip options 9 months of the year. During the summer, AVA offers whitewater rafting on 8 rivers, mountaintop ziplining in two locations, plus horseback riding, rock climbing, fly fishing, camping and more!