|

14 Backcountry Huts to Rent This Winter & Tips On What To Pack

Plan a fun and cozy getaway to one of these winter backcountry huts accessible via snowshoeing, cross-country, or backcountry skiing.

Plan an adventurous getaway to one of these winter backcountry huts that are accessible via snowshoeing, cross-country, or backcountry skiing

Find our content helpful? You can support the BFT team by making your gear, apparel, and travel purchases through the affiliate links in this blog post. We get a small commission with no added cost to you. You can also say thanks by leaving a tip in our virtual tip jar. THANK YOU!

With the onset of snow comes the opening of winter backcountry huts all across the US. Whether you want to snowshoe, cross-country ski, or backcountry tour, there are a lot of reasons to plan an epic adventure to a backcountry hut this winter.

From the adventure it takes to get there to untracked snow and incredible mountain scenery, overnighting at a cozy backcountry hut is an awesome way to enjoy all that winter has to offer with friends or family.

Plan your next winter ski or snowshoe adventure with this roundup of the best backcountry huts across the US from Vermont to California.

Important Note: It is your responsibility to be aware of avalanche risks and to have the tools and knowledge you need to safely travel in the backcountry. If you don’t have any experience with winter backcountry travel, we’ve included a few huts that offer backcountry guides to show you the way.


Why Book a Backcountry Hut?

Whether you’re an avid backcountry skier or you’re just looking for a weekend getaway to a cozy cabin set amid a winter wonderland, there are a lot of great reasons to book a backcountry hut this season.

5 Reasons To Book a Backcountry Hut

  • DITCH THE CROWDS – Most backcountry huts are secluded and private, so you can get some quality alone time with friends or family.
  • SPEND TIME IN NATURE – We all know the benefits of being outdoors and backcountry huts provide a great opportunity to disconnect from everyday life.
  • SAVE MONEY – Most backcountry huts are very affordable, so you can plan a weekend trip even on a tight budget.
  • FRESH POWDER – Looking for some fresh tracks? Chances are you’ll get them right out the door of a backcountry cabin!
  • GET COZY – One of our favorite reasons to book a winter cabin is to cozy up by the wood stove with a hot drink.

14 Best Backcountry Huts Across the US

1. Clair Tappaan Lodge Huts

  • Location: Lake Tahoe, California
  • Number of huts: 4 huts
  • Hut occupancy: 12-15 people depending on the hut
  • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: All huts are a short trek from easily accessible parking areas
  • Reservations: Hut reservations can only be made over the phone by calling 530-426-3632. For more information visit their website.

If you’ve hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, these 4 year-round huts will sound familiar as they are right off the PCT. The Peter Grubb Hut, Ludlow Hut, Benson Hut, and Bradley Hut are located just a short drive from Truckee and Tahoe City in California. All huts include a sleeping loft, a wood stove, and an outhouse.

Each hut requires only a single day to get to, making them perfect for a one or two-night getaway. In winter, the huts offer easy access to exceptional backcountry skiing routes right out the front door.

You can even loop Benson Hut & Bradley Hut together for a three-day, two-night epic adventure. If you do this, you should be familiar with the area and have winter wilderness survival skills.

A-frame backcountry hut in winter with long-exposure night sky above

2. Bear River Yurts

  • Location: Uinta County, Utah
  • Number of huts: 6 huts
  • Hut occupancy: 4-12 people depending on the hut
  • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: Five of the yurts are easy to access along well-marked and maintained trails. The distance of the approaches range from 1.5 to 6 miles. The 5th yurt is an additional 2 miles further into the backcountry on an ungroomed trail.
  • Reservations: Reservations are first-come, first-serve and can be reserved starting the first Monday in October. You can check yurt availablity and make reservations online here.

The Bear River Outdoor Recreation Alliance (BRORA) operates 6 yurts in Uinta County for backcountry skiers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers. BRORA’s mission is to assist in the promotion, development, and maintenance of outdoor recreation and access in Uinta county, an effort you support when you rent one of their yurts.

The yurts are equipped with bunk beds, a propane stove (propane included), kitchen utensils, and plenty of firewood to keep you warm and toasty throughout the night. The yurts also provide easy access to some of Utah’s finest backcountry terrain.

Outdoor Trip Planning Toolkit

Download my FREE Outdoor Trip Planning Toolkit

Enter your email to get access to printable PDF packing checklists, itineraries, and more.

    3. Bryant Camp

    • Location: Bolton Valley, Vermont
    • Number of huts: 1 camp
    • Hut occupancy: 8 people
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: Bryant camp is accessed via Bolton Valley Resort’s network of cross-country ski & snowshoe trails. There is an easy one-mile walk from the Bolton Sports Center that leads right to the hut, making it a great hut for beginners.
    • Reservations: Reservations can be made online.

    Located in Mt. Mansfield State Forest, Bryant Camp was originally built in the 1930s and was recently restored for backcountry and overnight use. The Camp is operated by the Green Mountain Club and offers rustic accommodations in the backwoods of Bolton Valley.

    Byrant Camp is equipped with a sleeping loft (no beds or mattresses, so bring your sleeping pad and sleeping bag), a wood stove, and plenty of firewood to keep you warm. It’s surrounded by dozens of miles of cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing, lift-accessed skiing, and snowshoeing terrain.

    The Green Mountain Club also operates the Hadsel-Mares Camp in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

    Rustic snow-covered Bryant Camp in Green Mountains of Vermont
    Bryant Camp is a rustic backcountry hut in the Green Mountains of Vermont

    4. Jon Wilson Yurt

    • Location: Hinsdale County, Colorado
    • Number of huts: 1 yurt
    • Hut occupancy: 8 people
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: The Jon Wilson Yurt is a short 1.25-mile trek from HWY 149 making it great for beginners or families with children.
    • Reservations: Reservations can be made online.

    The Hinsdale Haute Route Huts currently offers one backcountry yurt option – the Jon Wilson Yurt. There are two additional yurts, the Colorado Trail Friends Yurt and the Rambouillet Yurt, that are in the process of being re-established for winter use as of 2023. If you’ve hiked the Continental Divide Trail or the Colorado Trail, you’ve likely heard of these huts as they are right on the trail.

    The Jon Wilson Yurt is perfect for family-friendly outings since it’s located just a short distance off the highway and accessing the hut is pretty straightforward and easy. The yurt is also dog-friendly!

    5. Mount Tahoma Trails Huts & Yurts

    • Location: Near Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
    • Number of huts: 4 huts
    • Hut occupancy: 6-14 people depending on the hut
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: Copper Creek Hut is the only hut accessible to beginners and can be reached by a gentle uphill 5.5-mile hike along the Rainier Vista Trail through the forest. The other four huts require anywhere from 4-6.5 miles of strenuous uphill hiking to access, so be sure to read the descriptions before reserving.
    • Reservations: All the huts are available for day visitors to drop-in from 7am to 7pm. They can also be reserved for overnight stays. More information can be found on their website.

    Experience 360 views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens with the Mount Tahoma Trails Huts & Yurts. It’s pretty hard to beat that when it comes to backcountry winter scenery!

    The huts can be visited during the day by the public or rented overnight. A porter service is available to haul your gear up the huts for an additional donation.

    Man on skies pulling sled loaded with gear on trail next to snow-covered backcountry yurt and followed by family of three

    6. Mountaineering Club of Alaska Huts

    • Location: Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska
    • Number of huts: 8 huts
    • Hut occupancy: 7-10 people depending on the hut
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: The GPS coordinates of each hut and detailed directions can be found on the club’s website. According to the website, “All of the huts are located above the treeline, often right next to glaciers, and are most often used for climbing nearby peaks, glacier traverses, and for skiing and hiking trips. All of the Chugach huts require glacier travel skills to reach and two of the seven huts can be reached by fixed-wing aircraft.”
    • Reservations: The huts do not require any reservations and are free to stay in. It’s important to note they have no beds but can be used overnight, so don’t forget to bring your sleeping pad and bag!

    These simple backcountry huts are designed for the more advanced and skilled winter traveler. The Mountaineering Club of Alaska maintains 8 huts that can be found across the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains. Each hut is equipped with cooking stoves, lanterns, and a few other essentials for the mountains.

    If you’re new to backcountry hiking and camping, consider visiting these huts in the summer instead.

    Small, red Alaska Backcountry Hut with rocky jagged mountains as backdrop
    Alaska backcountry hut in summer

    7. Southwest Nordic Center

    • Location: Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico & San Juan Mountains, Colorado
    • Number of huts: 5 yurts
    • Hut occupancy: 6-10 people depending on the hut
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: Four of the yurts are located in southern Colorado and are accessible via well-marked trails, making these great for beginners. The fifth yurt is located two miles from the Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico.
    • Reservations: Reservations can be made online. Due to COVID, SNC is only accepting reservations for two nights or more.

    The Southwest Nordic Center (SNC) operates four yurts near the southeastern end of the San Juan Wilderness in Colorado and one yurt in the Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico.

    People don’t often associate New Mexico with skiing, but the Taos Ski Valley has world-class terrain and options for all levels. The Bull of the Woods Yurt is just two miles from Taos Ski Valley and offers some of the best alpine views in the state.

    You can even reserve “Yurt to Yurt” trips through the SNC or “triple Yurt-to-Yurt-to-Yurt” trips for an exciting long weekend.

    8. Sun Valley Yurt System

    • Location: Sun Valley, Idaho
    • Number of huts: 6 huts
    • Hut occupancy: 10-14 people depending on the hut
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: The huts are accessible via beginner or strenuous trails that range from 1.5 miles to 10 miles. For the more advanced routes, if your group is new to the area, you’re required to “Rent a Guide” to accompany your group on day 1.
    • Reservations: Reservations can be made online.

    Sun Valley Trekking operates 6 different backcountry huts in the Sawtooth, Smoky, and Pioneer Mountains near Sun Valley, Idaho. They have options for all levels and interests, including beginners and families with kids. What makes the Sun Valley Trekking huts unique is some of them have their own saunas and hot tubs – a luxurious way to end a cold day in the snow!

    9. Pear Lake Hut

    *CLOSED FOR THE 2022-2023 season due to the KNP Fire Complex*

    • Location: Sequoia National Park, California
    • Number of huts: 1 cabin
    • Hut occupancy: 10 people
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: The trail to the Pear Lake Cabin begins in Wolverton Meadow and ascends 6 steep miles to Pear Lake. Since the cabin is in Sequoia National Park, you will need a wilderness permit for all overnight trips. The trail is marked as advanced for backcountry skiers/snowshoers.
    • Reservations: Advanced reservations are required and can be made through the Sequoia Parks Conservancy website.

    Sitting alongside Pear Lake in Sequoia National Park at 9,200 feet is Pear Lake Cabin. The cabin is managed by the Sequoia Parks Conservancy and is available for rent from mid-December to April.

    Keep in mind that it is a steep 6-mile hike or skin up to the cabin.

    Pear Lake Backcountry Hut surrounded by winter forest landscape

    10. Idaho City Backcountry Yurts

    • Location: Boise National Forest, Idaho
    • Number of huts: 6 yurts
    • Hut occupancy: 6 sleep comfortably, but 9 people are allowed for additional fees
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: Each of the huts is accessible by a groomed 2-3 mile ski or snowshoe trek.
    • Reservations: Reservations can be made online. If you’re traveling from November 15th through April 30th you also need to purchase a valid Park N Ski parking pass to display in your vehicle.

    The Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation operates the Idaho City Backcountry Yurts system which encompasses 6 yurts that are all about 1.5 hours north of Boise, ID in the Boise National Forest. If you aren’t a big fan of snow and winter, all six of the yurts are available year-round.

    Most of the yurts are also dog-friendly, with the exception of Banner Ridge and  Elkhorn yurts, which are off-limits to dogs from Dec. 1st to April 15th.

    Backcountry winter hut lit up with lights overlooking snow-covered ridges and mountains

    11. Baxter State Park Huts

    • Location: Baxter State Park, Maine
    • Number of huts: 7 bunkhouses and 8 cabins
    • Hut occupancy: 4-10 people depending on bunkhouse or cabin
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: Baxter State Park roads are not plowed in the winter. The treks to most huts are a full day’s journey and should only be attempted by individuals familiar with the territory. There are companies that offer guided winter tours in the park if you are a beginner looking to gain skills and expertise.
    • Reservations: Winter camping in Baxter State Park is permitted by reservation only from December 1st through March 31st. You can make winter camping reservations in person at Baxter State Park Office or by email after November 1st. Reservations must be made at least 7 days in advance of your trip. More information on winter camping reservations can be found here.

    Baxter State Park is the home to Mount Katahdin and is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The Park operates 7 “bunkhouses” during the winter as well as 4 cabins at Daicey Pond and 4 cabins at Kidney Pond.

    Winter campers in Baxter State Park can experience extremely harsh weather, so you must be prepared for all conditions.

    12. Yellowstone Expeditions Yurt Camp

    • Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
    • Number of huts: Not specified
    • Hut occupancy: 2 people
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: Transportation for all trips is provided from West Yellowstone into the park. You’ll tour the park on your first day and then explore the park. Trips can be tailored to meet all levels, beginner to advanced.
    • Reservations: You can pick from a 4-day, 5-day or 8-day excursion. Rates are available online.

    If summer crowds are keeping you away from Yellowstone National Park, consider visiting in the winter. Yellowstone Expeditions operate a “Yurt Camp” in the park that includes private heated yurts.

    You’ll spend your days trekking across snow-covered meadows, relaxing in hot springs, viewing wildlife, cross-country skiing the rim of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon, or backcountry skiing some of the nearby slopes.

    Herd of bison walking down snow-covered road in Yellowstone National Park in winter with vehicle stopped to watch
    Yellowstone National Park in winter

    13. San Juan Hut System

    • Location: Sneffles Range in Colorado between Ouray and Telluride
    • Number of huts: 5 huts
    • Hut occupancy: 8 people per hut
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: All of the San Juan Huts are challenging to get to. Last Dollar Hut is the closest hut with a 2.7-mile ski-in and 1,300 feet of elevation gain. The other four huts are over 5 miles to hike into and 1,200-2,700 feet of elevation gain.
    • Reservations: Reservations are required for all San Juan Huts and can be made over the phone.

    The San Juan Hut System includes a collection of well-stocked huts that are open year-round for backpackers, mountain bikers, backcountry skiers, and other outdoor adventurers.

    Each hut can sleep up to 8 people and are stocked with firewood, cookware, propane stoves, mattresses, and other necessities.

    For winter visitors, the huts are quite remote and difficult to access, so reservations can only be made over the phone to make sure you are prepared and capable. You can ski between the huts to make a multi-day trip, but winter wilderness and route-finding skills are essential.

    14. Ostrander Ski Hut

    • Location: Yosemite National Park, California
    • Number of huts: 1 hut
    • Hut occupancy: 25 people with a max group size of 15
    • Hut accessibility & difficulty level: Ostrander Ski Hut is not recommended for novice skiers. It is a 10-mile trek to the hut (one-way) with 2,500 feet of elevation gain and an elevation high of 8,500 feet.
    • Reservations: Reservations are required and can be made online at the Yosemite Conservancy Website.

    Perched on the shores of Yosemite National Park’s picturesque Ostrander Lake, the Ostrander Ski Hut is an incredible destination for experienced backcountry skiers. The route to the hut awards skiers with great views of Half Dome, Clark Range, and other peaks as well as a true backcountry experience.

    The Ostrander Hut is equipped with 12 bunks with mattresses, a cooking area, solar-powered lights, and a wood stove. Since the hike-in is so strenuous, it is highly recommended that you pack the gear needed to be able to spend the night outside on your way in or out if necessary.


    Tips for Your First Backcountry Hut Trip

    Is this your first backcountry hut experience? Be sure to read through these tips so you can make the most of your time out in the woods.

    • Get an early start: Don’t try to estimate how long it will take you to hike in because there are too many variables. Snowshoeing and skiing in the backcountry almost always take longer than normal hiking. It’s best to just get as early of a start as possible.
    • Hang any wet clothes: When you get to the hut, hang up any wet clothes so they can dry out before you have to hike back.
    • Drink a lot of water: You don’t worry about bringing extra water since you can melt snow, but make sure you stay hydrated the whole time you’re there. Hydration can also help prevent altitude sickness.
    • Know what is provided at the huts: Read the website carefully to see what is provided at the hut. It would be a bummer to arrive at your hut without a sleeping pad only to find out there are no mattresses.
    • Check whether pets are allowed. Most huts do not allow pets since the snow around the hut is used for drinking water and pet waste would contaminate the snow supply. Check on this before you book your spot in a hut, and if pets are not allowed, PLEASE obey this!
    • Pack it in, pack it out: Everything you brought with you needs to leave with you. There’s no trash or recycling at most huts.
    Winter huts in snowy landscape at sunset

    What to Pack for Your Backcountry Hut Trip

    Backcountry huts are typically remote and only stocked with basic necessities. Be sure to bring everything you need to keep yourself warm, hydrated, and well-fed. Here is what we recommend packing:

    Clothing & Accessories

    Don’t pack any cotton clothing as cotton doesn’t wick moisture or dry quickly, which can leave you wet and cold. Instead, wear clothing made from synthetic materials or merino wool.

    Gear

    The gear you need for your backcountry hut trip will depend on how the hut is stocked. Be sure to read the website closely to determine what you need to bring. Here are some recommendations for gear you’ll most likely need:

    We hope this post helps you plan an unforgettable trip to a backcountry hut this season. Whether you’re looking for a cozy weekend getaway or untracked powder, winter huts are a great way to relax, unwind, and disconnect with friends or family.

    Have you stayed at a backcountry hut before or do you have any questions? Share your winter hut experiences in the comments below!

    Discover the best overnight backcountry huts for backcountry skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more. These huts are located across the United States and are available to rent overnight for your next winter adventure.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    6 Comments

    1. I’ve stayed at the Yellowstone Expeditions Yurt Camp twice and I can attest that it is dreamy. I want to spend every winter there! The food is great, the guides totally know what they are doing, the yurtlets are cozy, and being out in the middle of Wonderland without anyone else is a dream come true!
      These other backcountry huts look pretty great, too. I am going to have to add some of them to my winter to-do list.

    2. If I could add a 13th Backcountry Hut it would be Ostrander Ski Hut in Yosemite National Park. Great backcountry skiing right out the front door of the Hut.

    3. Re Ostrander hut, the article says the max. capacity is 12, and it was limited due to Covid concerns one year. I’ve been going into the hut solo pretty much every Xmas or just after New Years’ since 1980, and in fact the max. capacity is normally 25 (5 x triple-tier single bunks downstairs, 10 single mattresses on the floor upstairs) with a max. group size of 15, which is also the max. group size for a wilderness permit.