Backcountry huts make ideal home bases for outdoor adventure. Here's our roundup of the best backcountry huts in America.
What Are They?
Also known as backcountry shelters or wilderness huts, backcountry huts are shelters that provide temporary accommodation in national parks, remote wilderness areas, and along hiking and backpacking routes. The huts can be basic, unmanned structures with no running water or furnished, permanently attended accommodations with showers and hot meals.
The best backcountry huts offer much more than food and shelter, however. Many include comfy beds, wood-burning stoves, spectacular views and waitstaff. Throughout America, there are some distinctive backcountry huts that have become quite famous among seasoned outdoor adventurers. Among the most distinguished include:
Maine Huts and Trails: In Kingfield, Maine, you will find four famous huts across an 80-mile biking, hiking and Nordic skiing trail system. That said, these structures are less like huts and more like off-grid luxury lodges with full meals, showers and composting toilets, which are all available in the winter and summer.
10th Mountain Division Huts: In central Colorado, you'll find America’s best-known hut system, consisting of 34 cabins, which link up to 350 miles of backcountry ski routes, mountain biking single tracks and scenic hiking trails. These enchanting respites offer convenient accommodation, while you're exploring the rugged Rocky Mountain wilderness around Vail, Aspen and Leadville.
Rendezvous Huts: Edging the eastern flanks of the North Cascade Mountains in Washington, Rendezvous Huts consist of five separate accommodations, situated along the 120-mile Methow Trails. They make cozy little places to get warm when you're not skiing, snowshoeing or exploring the scenic landscape.
Len Foote Hike Inn: Dawsonville, Georgia plays host to a spectacular five-mile hike that winds through sparkling streams, scenic ridges and beautiful landscapes of rhododendron and mountain laurel. Along the way, you will find Len Foote's hut system, which provides private rooms, fresh linens, hot showers and home-cooked meals.
Williams Peak Hut: Soaring 8,000 feet above sea level on the snowy flanks of Williams Peak in the Sawtooth Range, this famous hut sits at the doorstep of some of the best hut-accessed backcountry ski terrain in America. It's also fully stocked with a kitchen, warm wood stoves, cooking supplies and bunk beds.
Muir Trail Ranch: What began as a public guest ranch has evolved into a popular mid-way stop for outdoor enthusiasts backpacking through the 211-mile John Muir Trail in California. To reach the ranch, you will need to hike 5-miles from a heavily wooded trailhead at a remote lake. Expect to sleep in either a log cabin or campaign tent, depending on availability. Muir Trail Ranch also offers impressive communal dinners, such as steaks barbecued on a wood-fired grill. You can also soothe sore legs in 107-degree hot spring baths.
Opus Hut: Situated in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, this hut sits amid desolate wilderness and jagged peaks. To reach it, you must drive a dirt road between Ophir and Silverton's old mining towns. Then it's only a quarter-of-a-mile hike to the hut, where you can enjoy freshly made dinners, hot breakfasts and seamless access to nearby alpine lakes and meadows of wildflowers.
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