Having trouble booking a backcountry hut this winter? Eschew those always-booked 10th Mountain Division huts and reserved-before-you-know-it squares on rec.gov and try Bluebird Backcountry on the other side of Rabbit Ears Pass, a new “liftless” ski area which will be offering new on-site lodging this season.
The resort-not-a-resort will have “about 40 beds,” says co-founder Jeff Woodward, including seven domes/cabins you can skin to, as well as three at its base. The lodging ranges from a single-bed, hostile-like experience to multi-person cabins and domes. The human-powered “resort” offers a safe, backcountry skiing experience with ski patrollers, instructors, guides, a base hut, gear rentals, mountain warming hut, designated trails and avalanche certification courses. But don’t expect the 10th Mountain’s Shrine Mountain. The skin-to huts utilizes existing ranch cabins, without running water or power. “It’s a more hut-like experience with a wood stove and maybe a gas kitchen,” he says, adding they may offer a service bringing skiers’ bags and food up to the huts. “We hope to lower the barrier on entry for people to go on a hut trip.” Hosting 5,000 skier visits during its 70-day season last year, the 1,200-acre ski area is located at 12210 Colorado Highway 14, on a private ranch on Bear Mountain just off the road to Walden.