Backcountry Adventure for all Seasons

MTB Bike Huts

The original hut to hut biking at its best. Enjoy open
country & beautiful single-track.

Hiking Huts
Skiing Huts

Warm, dry huts separated by ski and snowshoe
adventures. What could be better?

As we enter the modern navigation era of GPS tracks, Google Earth files, and Spot devices, we also want to help our more modern guests with some of the tried and true navigation practices of days gone by. What would you do if your GPS fails? Here is a synopsis, from most to least obvious, of how we have found our way around the mountains for many years.

Trail Signs: It is easier than you think to pass a wooden sign on the side of the trail when your mind is wandering and your eyes are fixed on the trail ahead or the mountains above. Trail signs may refer to the name, number, or destination of the trail so it is helpful to have a good topographic map with you.

Trail Markers: Trail markers of various sizes and colors can be found in many areas along the trails. These vary from blue diamonds with reflective tape in the center, to painted mettle strips hammered into trees, to orange flagging. Trail markers are less reliable than Blazes (see below) as they often fall off, are torn down, or fade in the sunlight.

Blazes: Blazes are etched into tree bark and are the shape of a lower case ‘i’. They are often found about head hight (when there is no snow) and on both sides of trees to mark the trail from both directions. In the San Juans many of the blazes are old and the shape is often contorted, but once you train your eye to find them, you will see them all along the trails. Learning to see the blazes is well worth your time as they are the most prolific and universal trail marking.

Cairns: Cairns are piles of rocks that people have built alongside a path to mark it. Most Cairns will not be visible in the winter but you may encounter a few along windswept alpine ridges. Be aware that Cairns are easy to build and not all who build them are marking the best path.

The Path Itself: Sometimes the path can be hard to see with new snow covering it. Look for an indented ‘snake’ where the snow has been compressed by previous travelers. Also remember to look up, as the path will often be discernible by the space between the trees above.

All of these will help you stay on the trail and find your way with nothing but your eyes. We also advise that you bring a good topo map and compass and know how to use them. GPS and other modern tools can be extremely useful, we just hope that our guests don’t rely too heavily upon them. Besides, following a trail without one can be invigorating and force you to be more aware of your surroundings, the majestic San Juan Mountains. Stay tuned for more on how to make a reliable tour plan.

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Watch this as National Geographic rides the Durango to Moab route.

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Latest News...

Sneffels Traverse Ski Race February 12, 2017

The Sneffels Traverse Race is a wild backcountry ski race on mountain ski trails. It is not for the faint of lung or faint of heart. The race will start at the eastern terminus of the Dallas Trail near the town of Ouray, traverse the along the Northern side of the San Juan Mountains, and end on County Road 9 west of Ridgway. The exact course may vary depending on conditions...

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On the way to work:)
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Kristin with a big load of canned goods coming down from Last Dollar for end of season tear down.
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End of season BBQ. Here is to the crew that made it a great season and kept the huts fully stocked with food and running smoothly!
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Love these trees
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This white stuff came to the San Juans
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If you lost an item in a hut, give us a call. We are sending unclaimed items to 2nd Chance Humane Society thrift store on 10/27/17.

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Fresh snow in the mountains this morning.

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Hikers and bikers, remember to wear bright colors as hunting season has started.

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