(Trip taken, March 13, 2020) Every year, we attempt to rent a portion of a back country hut in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We used to get them every year, until the entire country decided Colorado is the place to live. Now, accessing all the cool stuff is a challenge – gone are the good ole days of getting to the mountains easily.
In order to secure a hut, we have to go through a lottery system in January for the winter of the following year. In January of 2019, we failed to land a spot for the winter of 2020. The second year in a row.
We said to hell with that, and researched options for a different adventure. Years ago, our Denver magazine 5280, published a story about some yurts called the Never Summer Nordic Mountain Yurts located in the Colorado State Forest State Park, North/West of Fort Collins, CO. This has to be the most un-creative name for a State Park, EVER.
After the big rejection from the 10th Mountain Division Hut system, I decided to look into it and luckily, there were two yurts available in March, 2020. A perfect time for a winter get-away.
We picked the Montgomery Pass yurts. There are 2 of them separated by an outhouse and are REALLY good for groups. They say the 200 sq. foot yurts sleep 5 but honestly, 4 was just right. Think about all your gear and how crowded it would be with more than 4 people. You might just end up killing one another!
My friend D and I rounded up 6 amazing friends and away we went. It just happened to be the weekend before the entire world shut down because of the virus that shall not be named.
What’s a yurt?
There is a really good description of a yurt found on their website: “A yurt is a circular tent type structure. Yurts were designed by Mongolian herders as a necessity to keep up with their herd’s rapid movements. Evidence of yurts have been found from the fourth century B.C. in Mongolia and is still used by nomadic tribes in Central Asia. “Yurt” is actually Russian for dwelling.”
What does said yurt look like?
It’s essentially a round dome with a canvas protection layer. Both of our yurts had a deck for sweet sunset gatherings.
The yurt came with pots, pans, silverware, dishes, a 2 burner propane cook-stove, table and chairs, pillows, pads for the bunk-beds, and firewood for the wood burning fireplace. Essentially, everything you need except food, games and bevvies.
How did we get there?
It’s roughly a 3 hour drive from Boulder and 3.5 hour drive from Denver. We took the route through the Poudre Canyon and it was STUNNING. One of our buddies saw a moose along the way.
Before you get to the yurt, you have to stop and get State Park passes at the Moose visitor office. The passes need to cover you for the amount of time you will be in the back-country.
Once you arrive to the trail-head parking lot, strap on your snowshoes or skis and head on out! We brought a bunch of beer and food, so we experimented with a sled to help pull everything. Macgyver Sean figured out how to build the rig. It worked out great!
It’s a pretty easy hike to the yurts – 2.8 miles with ~900 feet of elevation gain, all of which, you experience at the end of the hike. It took us about 2 hours to get there on snowshoes. The signs to the Montgomery Pass yurts are pretty clear – the risk to getting lost is LOW.
We were super lucky and hiked in a little snow-storm – the BEST ever conditions to kick-start our adventure.
What did we pack?
There is a winter packing list on the yurt website, but thought I would highlight some of the most important items: Sleeping bag, pillow case, wine, games, beer, whiskey, and coffee. What else do you need? We also had 4 sleds with us so we could relive the good ole days of childhood and sled down steep hills with reckless abandon!
Oh, we also brought food. Each yurt was assigned dinner one night – we were on our own for the rest of the meals. Sean
and I dragged 4 lbs of chicken fajitas and our travel mates brought pasta, shredded chicken and pesto sauce. Not bad for back-country meals, eh? For dessert, D packed in cupcakes as it was Sean’s birthday as well :-). Happy Double Nickels to Sean!
What did we do while we were there?
- First things first, we unpacked all of our crap and got organized for smooth living with 4 adults in 200 square feet of living space.
2. We went sledding – the video below is of Mr. L. We loved his graceful body rolls to make it down the hill. The video posted funky, but it is hilarious – especially if you can turn up the sound.
Mrs. G wins the award for the cutest and most nimble sledder of the group! She has MAD sledding skills.
3. We had a snowman building contest between the yurts. Luckily, our friend N is an artiste who came up with the great idea to carve out a dragon in a non yellow snow pile by our yurt. Our competitors built a toilet-paper hoarding, snowman. We had 30 minutes to make it all happen. Not sure, but I think our team might have won, though it was pretty close. The competition was fierce.
4. We watched the sunset every night with happy hour cocktails – the company was outstanding! :-).
As you can see, we were very busy the whole time. So busy, we somehow managed to skip nap-time. When it was all said and done, we were sad to leave our cozy home in the back-country of Colorado. To soften the blow, the views on the way down were spectacular.
Would we do it again?
Hell yes. A great time was had by all even with the fouler than foul smelling outhouse. The friendship, views and special moments we shared will stick with us for a lifetime!
In the four days we have been back, the world seems to have spun out of control. Not only with this virus, but our friends had to put their sweet puppy down. Life sure has a way of throwing curve-balls seemingly all at once. If we had it our way, we all would have stayed up there for an undetermined amount of time. Alas, work, family and pet responsibilities prevented this from happening.
Thankfully, we all have the strength and fortitude to make it through all of this. Hope everyone is doing ok during these challenging times.
….i choose this….