Guide to Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Huts
By Allison Fitts & Lillian Robinson
Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Hut System is a stopover every campervan renter traveling through the state should experience. Located in the triangular area between Aspen, Leadville, and Vail, near Escape’s Denver camper van rental site, this hut system itself dates back to the 80s, but its inspiration is from even earlier.
A Brief History
As the U.S. was fighting in World War II, Camp Hale was built as a training site for mountain warfare in the Eagle River Valley of Colorado. Its infantry division became known as the 10th Mountain Division. Decades later, some of the division’s veterans came back to Colorado yearning to find a way to keep the legacy alive. Thus, the 10th Mountain Division Hut System was born.
When to Book a 10th Mountain Division Hut
Today, the system consists of 13 original huts, with an additional 19 privately-owned (but still rented out) huts. The aptly-named huts.org is where you can learn about the specifics of all the different locations and book your own visit.
A word of wisdom: Not only should you book your Escape campervan as early as possible for the best prices and most time to plan your trip, but you should also do the same for your stay at a 10th Mountain Division hut. These are a Colorado commodity and they get snapped up quickly. Take a look at their website to view a calendar with all the huts and their available dates. Prices vary to rent each, but it usually around $50 per person – totally worth it!
What to Pack
Once you’ve booked your hut, it is important to know what yours is outfitted with vs. what you need to pack in. During our visit in October, we stayed with some friends in the Continental Divide Cabin near the old Camp Hale. Ours had plenty of beds and pillows, but we brought our own sleeping bags to supplement. We had plenty of heat from a wood fireplace plus a full kitchen.
We were surprised at how many amenities there were in the hut, but we also think it is always a good idea to come over prepared and ensure you have everything you might need. Each hut is different, so be sure to research yours before going.
The hike to each hut and just spending time in the solitude of the Colorado wilderness is enough to keep us happy, but there are also plenty of things to do in the Aspen, Leadville, and Vail triangle. Here are some of our favorites to do before, after or during your stay:
- Aspen: hiking around Maroon Bells, using the town’s free bike system, great skiing (if you are more coordinated than us)
- Leadville: explore the historic downtown, the Leadville scenic railroad, admire views of the highest peaks in the state
- Vail: exploring nearby Red Cliff and Minturn, playing at the peak park on the ski mountain