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Mountain Solitude: Huts, Yurts Await Backcountry Skiers


Finding some freshies above Sun Valley. (Sun Valley Trekking/Facebook)

Heading into the backcountry transports skiers and rider into a world of powder, mystery and quiet – especially if the trip includes a night or two out in the woods.

Most of the more than 200 huts and yurts in North America lie under the tall peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Trail systems lead to single nights or connect to a multi-day hut-to-hut adventure for groups large and small.

A few huts cater meals, but most provide the basics and leave cooking to you. Much of hut-and-yurt country is also avalanche country, so hut managers insist on a level of backcountry expertise for many of the trips.

Here’s a look across the West:

Powder bounty outside 10th Mountain Division hut. (10th Mountain Division/Facebook)

Colorado. Spreading out from WWII Camp Hale off Tennessee Pass, the The 10th Mountain Division system is the standard. More than 30 huts stretch from Vail to Ashcroft – many near mountain summits -- and backcountry-ites never stray far from the Continental Divide. Some 350 miles of trails lie within the system. Newcomers can start at the Point Breeze Cabin, less than a mile off Hwy. 24. Other systems run out of Telluride, Hinsdale, and the remote Never Summer Range.

Nighttime in the San Juans. (San Juan Huts)

Idaho. A half-dozen yurts and wall tents based out of Sun Valley sit in the central mountains of the Gem State. North of Sun Valley, the Williams Peak yurt trip in the Sawtooth Range features couloirs, bowls and glades for skiing before a fully catered dinner.

Apres-ski smiles in Three Sisters Wilderness. (Three Sisters Backcountry)

Oregon. Camp in the Wallowa Mountain wilderness for four-day long weekends or five-day midweek stays. A quartet of yurts sit higher than 7,000 feet and include saunas. Also, two overnight yurts give access to Three Sisters Wilderness around Mount Bachelor.

Utah. The central Tushar Mountains and Tushar Mountain Tours bring backcountry enthusiasts at a pair of yurts above 10,000 feet. Powder turns come at 12,000 feet after summiting a peak.

Early morning snow check in Colorado's Never Summer Range. (Never Summer Nordic/Facebook)

For a complete guide to backcountry huts, click here

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