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A winter night spent in a cozy backcountry hut is a Colorado must-do.

FEATURES

An Aspen Bucket List for Winter

By Tess Weaver Strokes

Skiing photo by Seth Beckton courtesy of Snowmass Tourism | Hut photo by C2 Photography

02.06.18

Skiing and hut trips are musts for an Aspen winter.

December

Classic: Close to home hut trip
Of the seven huts in the Alfred A. Braun Hut System, the Markley Hut and the Lindley Hut are the most accessible, with approaches less than two hours. Aspen locals frequently ski to the Markley Hut on a weeknight and make it to work on time the next morning. Rates vary

Alternative: Women’s hut trip
Aspen Alpine Guides’ Leave the Boys Behind program fosters all-female wilderness experiences, like its Backcountry Basics McNamara Hut Trip, March 6 to 8. Female skiers and snowboarders will spend three days and two nights learning about hut-trip planning, avalanche safety and backcountry navigation. $685

Upgrade: Epicurean ski hut trip
Imagine skiing to a backcountry hut with a private ski guide where the fire is already glowing and a private chef is laying out an exquisite spread of appetizers. Dreams do come true: Aspen Expeditions offers full customizable options for groups of all sizes and ability levels. Rates vary

January

Classic: Cat skiing with Aspen Powder Tours
On the backside of Aspen Mountain, a blank canvas awaits guests of Aspen Powder Tours, which guides skiers and snowboarders on an average of 10,000 vertical feet of off-piste skiing within 1,100 acres of open bowls, meadows and tree glades, followed by a hot lunch in a wood stove-heated backcountry cabin. $489

Alternative: Cat skiing Vail Pass with Vail Powder Guides
Drive two hours from Aspen to Vail Pass for the next closest cat skiing to Aspen’s. Vail Powder Guides offers triple the acreage of open bowls, low-angle tree glades and steeper tree runs coated with an average 350 inches of snowfall per year. $500 per seat

Upgrade: Aspen Heli Charter transfer to Crested Butte, cat skiing with Eleven Experience
Cut the almost five-hour drive from Aspen to Crested Butte to 15 minutes of flying time with a lift from Aspen Heli Charter; then take a leather- and barnwood-lined snowcat from luxe Scarp Ridge Lodge in downtown Crested Butte to the ghost town of Irwin, which sees almost double the snowfall of Aspen and hosts the highest-end cat skiing in the state. Helicopter $3,000, aspenhelicharter.com; cat skiing $650

Between Aspen and Snowmass, there are more than 55 miles of cross-country ski trails.

February

Classic: Nordic skiing Snowmass
When snow covers the green, the Snowmass Club Golf Course transforms into the Snowmass Cross Country Center, offering 55 miles of undulating groomed trails, programs, lessons and rentals between Snowmass and Aspen. Lesson and rental prices vary, donations encouraged

Alternative: Nordic skiing Spring Gulch Nordic Center
This lesser-known trail system sits 7 miles west of Carbondale on County Road 108. More than 13 miles of professionally groomed trails for every ability level wind through sagebrush and scrub oak with expansive views of Mount Sopris. Donations encouraged

Upgrade: Nordic skiing to Pine Creek Cookhouse
Aspen’s quintessential cross-country ski adventure begins at the Ashcroft Adventure Lodge at the end of Castle Creek Road. Twenty-two miles of groomed trails wind across more than 600 acres from the ghost town of Ashcroft to the Pine Creek Cookhouse, a destination restaurant serving gourmet field-to-stream cuisine. $115, includes dinner and ski or snowshoe rentals