Hike to a Colorado Hut for Your Next Family Vacation

It’s no secret the Colorado Rockies offer soaring mountains, breathtaking scenery, and outdoor adventures galore. Hikers, bikers, and climbers find limitless opportunities to explore Colorado’s corner of heaven by scrambling up sharp peaks, catching trophy-sized trout, pedaling trails above canyons, and skiing through silent aspen glades. And at the end of an adventure-filled day, there’s no better way to unwind than bedding down for the night in a comfy backcountry hut.

Luckily, Colorado boasts perhaps the largest network of mountain huts in the United States with over 160 huts, yurts, and cabins ready to rent alongside trails and ski routes in national forests and private lands scattered across the state.

Colorado’s huts, including those in the San Juan Huts(Opens in a new window), 10th Mountain Division Huts(Opens in a new window), and Never Summer Nordic Huts(Opens in a new window) systems, range from rustic cabins to comfortable, eco-friendly lodges with electricity provided by solar panels, composting toilets, fully equipped kitchens, and some even have hot showers. All of the huts are reached by trails that are perfect for family hiking adventures in summer and backwoods ski or snowshoe treks in winter. You can hike, pedal, or ski hut-to-hut on a multi-day expedition, do a two- or three-day circuit between a couple of huts, or simply use one as a basecamp for your mountain adventures.

Here is a selection of the best Colorado hut networks and huts for family adventures. They’re easy to reach, generally uncrowded in summer, offer natural social distancing, and sit at the doorstep of incredible outdoor fun.

San Juan Huts

(Opens in a new window) The views along the legendary Sneffels Traverse. - Ed Ogle

The San Juan Huts, with 16 huts in southwestern Colorado, are perfect for a hut-to-hut trek in the skyscraping San Juan Mountains. Or, if two-wheeled touring is more your family’s speed, this hut system also makes for a killer week-long bike ride from either Durango or Telluride to Moab, the epicenter of fat-tire culture. For the ultimate summer hiking expedition, do the renowned Sneffels Traverse(Opens in a new window) between Telluride and Ouray with overnights in four high country huts and forever-views of jagged peaks. The Blue Lakes Hut, reached by a quarter-mile trail, is a perfect basecamp to visit the iconic Blue Lakes and to climb Mount Sneffels, one of Colorado’s most photographed mountains.

Never Summer Nordic Huts

Never Summer Nordic’s backcountry yurts scatter around State Forest State Park(Opens in a new window) in northern Colorado. These nine remote yurts and a cabin sit beside gurgling creeks and nestle in alpine valleys without cell service, making them ideal for secluded family getaways. Easily reached by vehicle and a short hike, the yurts are springboards for hiking, biking, and moose watching. High in the Rawah Range, Ruby Jewel Yurt lies a couple of miles from glistening Jewel Lake, while small Nokhu Hut is a mile from gorgeous Lake Agnes and towering Mount Richthofen in Rocky Mountain National Park.

10th Mountain Division Huts

(Opens in a new window) The comfy basecamp of Francie’s Cabin near Breckenridge. - Pierce Martin

The 10th Mountain Division Huts, named for the rugged soldiers that trained for World War II mountain warfare at Camp Hale, is a system of 30 backwoods huts in the high country between Vail, Aspen, and Leadville. Over 350 miles of trails connect the huts, making them an ideal overnight destination for skiers and hikers. They’re also inexpensive, making a hut-to-hut trek an affordable vacation. The Point Breeze Hut is a perfect starting point with a mile-long approach and access to the long-distance Colorado Trail.

For families, the Continental Divide Cabin near Leadville offers a network of trails, lakes, and a teepee that are reached by an 0.8-mile hike. The hut is outfitted for kids with highchairs and cribs. Other good options are Francie’s Cabin near Breckenridge with hikes to Mohawk Lakes and bike rides on Tenmile Range trails, and Janet’s Cabin near Copper Mountain Ski Area.

Pass Creek Yurt

The isolated Pass Creek Yurt(Opens in a new window), reached in summer by a gentle one-mile hike or in winter by a three-mile ski tour, sits at 10,287 feet. This charming retreat high in the southern Rockies offers warm beds, a kitchen, solar lights, and a wood stove. The yurt is perfect for biking on 62 miles of trails ranging from beginner to expert, miles of hiking on the Continental Divide Trail, or quiet days for cloud watching, meditation, and solitude.

Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower

For an unforgettable experience, stay overnight in the Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower(Opens in a new window), a unique shelter near Mancos that was once manned by Forest Service fire lookouts. It was saved from demolition in the early 1990s by the nonprofit Jersey Jim Foundation and now welcomes hikers who stay in a cabin perched 55 feet above an aspen-lined meadow. Expect expansive views across southwestern Colorado and starry nights. Because of its height, there are some rules to be mindful of, including the fact that children under 8-years-old are not allowed.

Jon Wilson Yurt

(Opens in a new window) The scenic views of Lake San Cristobal, viewable from Jon Wilson Yurt. - Robert Thigpen

The Hinsdale Haute Route(Opens in a new window), the highest hut system in Colorado, offers two yurts for hikers, bikers, and skiers. The lower Jon Wilson Yurt is recommended for families with children since it is reached by a 1.25-mile hike from the highway south of Lake City. Tucked among aspen and spruce trees, the comfortable hut offers all of the amenities of home plus scenic views across Lake San Cristobal toward Fourteeners Sunshine and Redcloud Peaks and hiking on the Colorado Trail, a 486-mile footpath from Denver to Durango.

No matter which Colorado hut system you choose, you’re guaranteed to find a trip that’ll stand the test of time in both yours and your family’s memories. In other words, Colorado’s huts are completely unforgettable. We’ll see you out there.

Written by Allison Pattillo for Matcha in partnership with Osprey Packs.

Featured image provided by Holly Mandarich(Opens in a new window)