Check the individual website of your chosen hut or yurt regarding specific information on trailheads such as location, capacity, security, and access. Access to some trailheads can be difficult due to snow, mud, or steep grades. Take special care with trailhead location. Allow extra time the morning of your trip in case the trailhead is not plowed or otherwise difficult to find or use. As parking at trailheads is often limited, please carpool or use a shuttle service whenever possible.
Visitors are urged to not to leave anything of value in your car. If you must leave something in your car make sure it is either locked in your trunk or well out of sight.
The Colorado Rocky Mountains are known for weather that changes rapidly and is tough to predict. Nonetheless, forecasts have improved and should always be checked before heading into the backcountry. By combining regional forecasts with your own study of air mass trends (see links below), you can get a good idea of what the weather will be a few days in the future.
The main thing to remember is "hope for the best, plan for the worst." During any season you should carry gear that would allow you to survive in the event of a worst case historical scenario. For example, while Colorado's winter temperatures are generally quite moderate, arctic air sometimes intrudes this far south, and we get strings of cold days that can hover below zero. When traveling to the huts and yurts, you need gear that will work for such events. It doesn't have to be perfect -- just good enough. For example, if you tend to get cold hands, a pair of backup mittens stowed in your pack can make the difference. Think through your gear list, check the weather before you go, and your encounter with the wild will be manageable and worthwhile.
Use the links above for regional forecasts. To get a sense of trends, explore the weather links below.
- Colorado Avalanche Information Center (Tons of weather resources for winter travel under the "Backcountry Forecasts" link, from simple weather reports to more advanced forecast models)
- NOAA, Grand Junction, Colorado (Huge amount of useful information.)
- NOAA Forecast Discussion (Get a sense of airmass trends.)
- Fire Weather for Aspen Area (Useful for summer overview.)
- Fire Weather for Leadville Area (Summer info.)
Please check the individual website of your chosen hut or yurt regarding other links that may provide information specific to that hut or yurt.
Avalanche Hazard Information
Colorado is known for its avalanche prone snowpack. A number of the suggested routes to the huts and yurts pass through or are next to terrain that may be prone to avalanches. Accordingly, pick the suggested route that most suits your group and its abilities, carry appropriate equipment, and always exercise prudent backcountry travel techniques when passing through avalanche prone terrain. Remember, avalanches can occur in forested areas and can run into forested areas from open slopes. Moreover, a number of huts and yurts are situated in the midst of extreme avalanche terrain. Many other huts, while located in more modest terrain, still have access routes that cross avalanche paths.
We strongly suggest that someone in every group be experienced in evaluating avalanche and snow stability hazards and practicing prudent backcountry and winter mountain travel techniques. For up to date avalanche information for all of Colorado, visit the website for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). Another excellent resource is the Forest Service National Avalanche Center website. While this site doesn't have local forecasts it does have a wealth of information on backcountry travel in avalanche terrain and snow science, as well as turtorials on some basic skills and snow science.
We recommend that you start checking the avalanche advisory reports regularly before your trip to see how conditions are evolving. Study your maps to see what type of terrain you will be traveling through to see if there are alternative routes that might be feasible if snow stability conditions deteriorate. During most of the winter, travel to some of the huts and yurts is possible with a relatively minor degree of risk. However, if your trip falls within a period or cycle of high or extreme instability, you must make the decision of whether or not to go. While deep snow, bad weather, and white-out conditions are to be anticipated on any trip, a hut credit may be issued if a trip is cancelled due to avalanche danger associated with an extreme avalanche cycle. Research this in advance with your selected hut or yurt because policies differ.
Please check the individual website of your chosen hut or yurt regarding other links that may provide avalanche information pertinent to that location.
Global Positioning System (GPS) Information
GPS data for the trailhead, hut, and perhaps suggested routes may be available at the individual website of your chosen hut or yurt.
A GPS unit can be a good tool for backcountry navigation when used in conjunction with a map, compass, altimeter and appropriate skills. If your GPS fails, you will be very thankful that you wisely brought your map, compass, and altimeter - and know how to use them.
We strongly suggest that you not rely solely on GPS devices to navigate to the huts and yurts. Bring a map, compass and altimeter and know how to use them. Bring extra batteries or effective recharging devices.