Get off the beaten path, explore the outdoors through backcountry huts
We frequently meet people that are wanting to start overnight backcountry trips and everyone immediately correlates overnight trips with camping. Backcountry camping provides freedom and unlimited possibilities, but also requires gear, experience and possibly a companion to have a safe and enjoyable experience. When I talk to these eager adventurers our conversations always end up on sharing a new idea on how to explore the backcountry and I’ve been surprised how few people even know about this option - I’m talking about huts. If people are aware of huts they often haven’t gone because they don’t know what to expect. To answer all of your hut questions here is who should go, where to go, what to expect, what to bring and why you will want to go!
Explore Canada’s Wilderness Through Beautiful Backcountry Huts
There are a lot of backcountry huts available, some open all year, other seasonal only user for either hiking or skiing season. I’ll start with the most rugged to most luxurious huts.
I call these huts self guided since you are responsible for your trip, food and clean-up. There are two types of self-guided backcountry huts available - communal and private.
Communal/shared huts are where you pay to use the facilities for 1+ nights, potentially with other people at the same time. Everything is shared from sleeping area to eating. There is usually one room or loft for sleeping, a kitchen and sitting area. Facilities are usually only outhouses and water will need to be hiked in or sourced from a river or snow. Dogs are not allowed, understandably since these are small shared spaces. The huts are open registration and closed only once all spots are filled. We have been to communal huts and been the only people, but we have also been with several other parties. I recommend ear plugs for sleeping, toilet paper, headlamp for night time reading or card games and a flask of something delicious to make new friends.
Examples of Communal Style Huts:
Privately rented huts can be found through smaller associations. These associations only offer renting the whole hut per-night no matter how many people can fit in them - you will not end up sharing accommodation. These huts often allow dogs since you are not sharing a space. Research any locations you are interested in going there may be a small association around that has huts to rent. These huts tend to be the most rugged as they don’t tend to have the same money to maintain and volunteer base to pull from.
Examples for Privately Rented Huts:
Columbia Valley Hut Association
Backcountry Lodges of British Columbia
There are more options for huts in Canada, Google for Backcountry Huts in Canada and lots of search results come up. This is just a place to start, some of the links provided have both communal and non-communal options, check out each description.
Some backcountry hut associations have an annual membership which may offer extra perks than just the use of their huts. Membership required or not you will still have to pay a nightly fee either as an individual for communal huts or per night for the non-communal huts. Communal huts usually cost around $30 per person a night, non-communal may cost $60 for the whole hut a night. You might be thinking wow big price difference, but there is often for a reason. Prices may be different depending on the hut. You must pay in order to get the key code for the hut door and if you just show up without a reservation expect other guests or a hut custodian to kick you out. From our experience, you usually get what you pay for. Lower costing huts don’t come with custodians, chopped firewood, well maintained equipment and shelter. Remember you can book out a whole communal hut you just need to pay for it or have a large enough group. Shared huts can be a very fun experience though - don’t let the idea of sharing with strangers stop you.
Alpine Club of Canada, Elks Lake Cabin
Alpine Club of Canada, Bow Hut Kitchen
Alpine Club of Canada, Bow Hut Sleeping Area
Alpine Club of Canada, Asulkin Hut Eating Area
Thunder Meadows, Fernie, British Columbia
Inside Thunder Meadows, Fernie, British Columbia
Jumbo Hut is a few Steps Up! We Love Jumbo
Jumbo Hut Has Single Beds and a Loft, Rugged But Comfortable
Backcountry huts are usually located a lengthy hike within the backcountry, are equipped with kitchen pots, pans, utensils, sleeping mats, chopped firewood, propane for lights and stove tops and outhouses. You are required to bring food, sleeping bags and other backcountry essentials such as matches, flashlight, clothing, and potentially water tabs or drinkable water. Each hut listing describes the location. Ear plugs always come handy in huts! You are paying for the upkeep of the hut and trail but still required to clean up after yourself. All huts we’ve been to are located in stunningly beautiful wilderness.
Hut Water Situation Can Vary, Grabbing Easily Accessible Water to Boil From a Stream Outside Elk Lakes Cabin
Grabbing Water from the ‘Lake’ at Thunder Meadows Hut
Outhouses Are Your Only Option, Deal With It
The Views, Hikes and Skiing From Backcountry Huts is Like a Dream
Full-service lodges offer more of a hotel-like experience than other huts and there is nothing wrong with that! We want to encourage people to have backcountry adventures as so much positive comes from getting out into the wilderness from personal health and wellness benefits to understanding the need to protect natural spaces from a respect for mother nature. Full-service lodges are beautifully situated, many are well priced and you can ski or hike all day then come back to a hot meal and cold beer. Some locations cost more and may require a helicopter to access but if you have the money why not?! Some of these lodges are shared accommodations but you usually have your own sleeping quarters. Guides are likely available or required for hiking or skiing adventures and cooks will serve you up something delicious.
Examples of Full Service Lodges:
Backcountry Magazine has a great list of huts, lodges and yurts across North America
Don’t Miss Views Like This, Above the Sydney Vallance (Fryatt) ACC Hut, Jasper
Your backcountry overnight adventures are waiting!