In Colorado, a trip to one of the many backcountry huts that dot the mountains is a popular way to spend a night or weekend. But this adventure is not just for adults—babies and small children will enjoy the trip, too.
There’s nothing quite like getting out into the wilderness, exploring a new area, and spending the night away from home. Camping is one way to get this fix, but then there’s finding a site, putting up a tent, building a fire, and all the chores that come with actually camping. And all that work might be out of the question if you're looking to introduce your little one to a taste of nature. For an outdoor experience that requires a little less setup, a hut trip might be the perfect answer.
In Colorado, there are several different hut systems around the state. These cabins in the woods come in varying sizes, sleeping anywhere from four to 22 people at a time. Though the locations and amenities vary, the basics are the same: Each has proper beds with mattresses, a wood-burning stove, and a kitchen set-up. This is what makes a hut trip perfect for adventuring with kids.
There’s a perception that spending time in nature with children, especially young ones, is difficult. However, a hut trip is a great entryway to camping with little ones. I recently went on a hut trip with a group of 18 people aged nine months to 46 years and I have to tell you: The 9-month-old took to it like a champ. Here’s how to make your baby (or young child’s) first hut trip a success.
What to pack
As with any camping trip that requires you to pack in and pack out, weight and size are a factor. This is not the time for fancy gadgets and, even better, the hut should be furnished with cooking utensils which will lighten your load. Pick a sturdy, lightweight pack and be sure to pack your sleeping bag.
You’ll need clothes to hike to the hut, plus something warm and dry to change into once you get there. Though you don’t need a full wardrobe (especially if it’s just an overnight trip), being cozy is key. Pack warm, comfortable clothes to change into after you hike in; a pair of slippers is also a great addition as the floors can be chilly before you get the fire roaring. On our trip, baby Hadley had her down snowsuit to sleep in: it’s comfy, warm, and doubled as a sleeping bag for her. To keep baby’s clothes organized and easily accessible (for those unexpected temperature changes), packing cubes are a must. Assign each member of the family their own color and it’ll be easy to grab extra layers for the little one.
There and back again
Getting there is part of the adventure as the huts are tucked away from civilization, requiring a hike (in the summer) or a snowshoe or ski (in the winter) to access. Each hut is different: some are only a few miles in and others are more of an excursion. However, each hut has a detailed description of how to get there and what amenities it includes.
On the first hut trip, it’s best to choose a more accessible hut and summer is a more forgiving season in which to hike. A hiking carrier is a great option for those with small children as they get a bird’s eye view and, depending on how old they are, might even fall asleep on the way in. In the winter, small children can be pulled on a light sled if the trail becomes too long.
Once you get to the hut, it’s time for relaxation and fun with friends. Divvy up the meals between attendees and cooking won’t be a chore. Hadley had a great time being passed around from person to person as we fixed dinner and socialized. Her parents brought a few toys, but with so many people on hand, entertaining her wasn’t a problem. After she went to bed (snuggled in her suit in an inflatable crib that her parents had packed), the rest of the group played card games and just enjoyed being unplugged.
Hut trips are a great way to get out and enjoy nature without some of the work that can come with traditional camping. Add in the ability to bring a group of friends and the comfort of actual beds and you have the perfect opportunity to take your little one on an outdoor adventure.
Have you been on a hut trip with children? What tips and tricks do you have? Let us know in the comments!
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own research and use your best judgment.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Best Hut-to-Hut Hikes in the World
Yurts: Your New Favorite Lodging for Winter Camping
3 Days Exploring Northwest Colorado