Solitude, fresh powder turns, uninterrupted nature – the backcountry has more than a few perks for the adventurous skier and snowboarder.
Yet for those looking to extend their trip longer than just a day, out of bounds is, well, out there. Planning overnights in the backcountry is a lot more challenging than renting a trailside condo at the resort, but that shouldn’t mean it’s not an option this winter.
Throughout North America, mountain huts provide an excellent alternative for those in search of a backcountry base camp. Whether it be a single lodge or a series of interconnected huts, these wilderness accommodations are the perfect way to get out into the backcountry this season, without ditching your creature comforts.
Some of these huts are fully equipped and others require you to hike in with your gear, but each guarantee a warm bed and a place to dry your clothes at the end of a long day. All of these huts require that you have previous snow safety knowledge as well as a beacon, shovel and probe.
From west to east and back again, here is a look at five of our favorite huts for backcountry skiing and snowboarding.
Williams Peak Hut, Idaho
Located just 60 miles from the popular resort of Sun Valley, this Idaho yurt system is the ultimate anti-resort ski and snowboard experience. Resting at 8,000 feet, the hut gets nearly twice as much snow as its resort neighbor and features skiing and snowboarding through dramatic granite spires and cavernous couloirs.
The yurts themselves are an experience worth hiking for, featuring wood-fire stoves, a wood-fire sauna, and a stocked kitchen—all the comforts you need after a long day of cruising empty powder laps.
As with most hut experiences, this is one trip best enjoyed with guides, and the Williams Peak Hut has some of the best. Sawtooth Mountain Guides run guided trips of varying sizes throughout the winter, starting at $360 per day for groups of four to seven people and $315 for groups of eight to 12. Packages include guide and a full smattering of home-cooked meals.
Tam McArthur Rim Huts, Oregon
The Tam McArthur Rim Huts are two backcountry yurts on Tam McArthur Rim in the Three Sisters Wilderness of Oregon, servicing some of the best backcountry turns in the entire state. Situated six miles from the nearest trailhead, the huts sleep up to six people each, feature a wood-fired sauna, and offer up the light-density snow that the Oregon high desert is renowned for.
The huts run a guide service that costs $250 per guide per day, or guests can rent entire huts for $1,620 for a three-day weekend. Book early enough, and you can request a keg be packed in from one of the many local breweries in nearby Bend.
Commissary Ridge Yurt, Wyoming
As part of the network of Teton Backcountry Guides huts, the Commissary Ridge Yurt has a little something for everyone. After a straight-forward, four-mile walk in, beginner backcountry skiers will find solace in low-elevation terrain, while more advanced skiers and boarders can head up to the 2,000-foot shots located on the west side of Beard’s Mountain.
Open for bookings from December 22 until April 15, this yurt sleeps eight people and has a fully equipped kitchen and stove (you’ll have to lug in any food supplies). This yurt is meant for self-sufficient parties and goes for $425 a night (or about $55 a person, per night) and requires an approach guide fee of $250 for first-time users.
Fowler-Hilliard Hut, Colorado
Part of the famed 10th Mountain Division Huts connecting Vail and Aspen, the Fowler-Hilliard Hut is without a doubt the most popular, and for good reason. With stunning views of some of Colorado’s famous 14ers (peaks over 14,000 feet), and skiing right outside the front door, this hut will change the way you backcountry ski from here on out.
Low angle trees provide safe skiing even when avalanche conditions are tough, and when conditions line up, Resolution Bowl is one lap you won’t forget.
This hut is sure to fill up fast, as a night here only costs $33 per person (plus a one-time $6 payment for a Vail Pass Winter Recreation Fee).
Paragon Guides leads custom-built trips out of the hut every year, providing experienced guides, meals, and plenty of snow for a weekend trip of around $700.
Zealand Falls Hut, New Hampshire
Don’t fret, New England, you guys have backcountry huts too, and plenty of skiing to boot. The Zealand Falls Hut in New Hampshire’s White Mountains is proof, providing classic (read: technical) New England tree skiing, and high alpine missions sure to get the blood pumping on a frozen February day.
The Zealand Falls Hut sleeps up to 36 people, and is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club, offering a bed for just $28 a night for its members ($34 for non-members).
From the parking area on US-302, skiers and boarders will have to travel about six and a half miles in to the hut. Skiing is best around late February and March.
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