As summer comes to a close, it’s hard to think of anything except swimming holes, bike rides, flip flops, and backyard BBQs. But, don’t let that blind you from making plans for that time of year when the white stuff falls. Because when it comes, you’ll be glad you did.
From the backcountry bowls of the Rockies to the peaks and valleys of the Appalachians, this country is dotted with yurts and cabins designed specifically for a ski-up entrance. One-to-several miles of skin track will lead you right to the door of one of these humble, cozy abodes. And once you’re there, a blazing fire or wood-burning stove is supremely welcome.
The best part? Endless turns in the surrounding pitches. Infinite untracked powder. And whiskey that never tasted better than at the end of that day. Make your trip even sweeter by linking several huts in a row along a route.
Every hut trip should have at least one person with first-aid, route-finding and avalanche-awareness skills.
Here are five hut systems we’re eyeing for next winter:
10th Mountain Division Hut Association—Colorado Rockies
Thirty-four huts heated by wood-burning stoves and connected by 350 miles of suggested routes make this system a versatile one. The terrain ranges from beginner and perfect for kids (think one mile and a mellow 800 feet of vert) to advanced. Some of the huts even come equipped with cribs for infants. Most sleep sixteen people, so be prepared to share with (new) friends. For more info, head here.
San Juan Hut System
Five huts in southwestern Colorado’s craggy San Juan Mountains link Telluride to Ouray just below the 14,000-foot peaks of the Sneffels Range. Link them up for a multi-night trip or access each one individually, with ski-ins ranging from 2.7 to 10 miles. Don’t expect luxury—these huts hold eight people and come equipped with the necessities (bunks, a propane cook stove, a wood-burning stove for heat, firewood and cooking equipment) but none of the creature comforts. For more info, head here.
The Bear River Outdoor Recreation Alliance
Head east of Park City, Utah, and south of Evanston, Wyoming, into the Uinta Mountains and you’ll find five yurts equipped for backcountry ski adventures. These round, Mongolian-inspired tents come ready for your arrival with bunks, a propane stove, kitchen utensils and plenty of firewood. For more info, head here.
The Appalachian Mountain Club
Whether a bunkhouse, cabin or hut, the inviting shelters offered by the Appalachian Mountain Club dot the Appalachians from Virginia to Maine. But the concentration of AMC huts is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where eight huts link up just a day’s hike apart from the next one. For more info, head here.
Ostrander Ski Hut—Yosemite Conservancy and National Park Service
A strenuous ten-mile ski from Badger Pass Ski Area, this rustic stone ski hut sits at the edge of a glacial cirque beside sparkling Ostrander Lake (elevation 8,500 feet). A hut-keeper makes sure the fire is roaring when you arrive. Kitchen equipment is provided, as are bunk beds. For more info, head here.
Book your reservation or enter the reservation lottery now to ensure a spot.
Check out "Experience Winter - Cross-Country Skiing in the Methow Valley" for more ski hut inspiration.
Featured photo: Rendezvous Hut by James Harnois.