Note: If you are looking for the Roam Industries hut rentals info and want to skip the trip report, click here...
During the winter, I love to ski tour.
Besides being a full body work out, I find that skiing lets me enjoy the woods and mountains differently. I am gliding through the snow, taking in the brisk winter air, and getting to experience the natural world in a different way.
When I first moved to Moab, I did not comprehend at first what kind of skiing the mountains offered. Be it the La Sals with its backcountry bowls or the Abajos (locally called “The Blue Mountains”) more conducive to touring; I soon realized that my skis did not have to go into storage. I could ski in these local ranges and enjoy the winter landscape beyond hiking.
I introduced Joan to ski touring this past year, and we used some store credit to get a proper beginner backcountry ski rig (waxless skis with NNN-BC boots and bindings, full metal edges, good shape and size for moderate terrain), and she seems to enjoy it overall.
Being a backcountry person, the idea of winter backpacking on skis intrigued her. I also mentioned how hut trips could be a luxurious, but affordable, way to get out in winter with a few creature comforts, too.
Intrigued, Joan did some research. She stumbled upon the Monticello-based Roam Industries hut rentals, and we hatched a plan: The “tiny home” rental would be a great introductory hut trip for Joan and for our two friends that are also new to to the Nordic world.
So we booked the trip with ease, made our plans, and off we went.
We drove up together, and less than an hour later, we arrived at the trailhead.
The day ended up being perfect for an introductory overnight tour: Lots of snow, perfect temps for skiing, no wind, and warm winter sun.
An easy 1.6 miles ski brought us to the hut.
After getting situated, and an afternoon libation, we skied out again.
A local ski and snowshoe club volunteers to groom part of the road, but options exist beyond this area for more of a backcountry touring experience.
We arrived back to the hut just in time for sunset and dinner.
A cold night, but a warm hut with some wine and dinner makes for a pleasant evening.
The following day we did a quick ski back to the car with views to the Colorado San Juans in the distance.
Not quite ready to call it a day with the glorious sunshine, some of us decided to make a loop on the Nordic system, also groomed, before heading back to Moab.
An excellent conclusion to a first-time hut trip for Joan and our friends. And a way for me to share another part of the outdoors I love.
The Roam Industry huts are much easier to book than their more well-known 10th Mountain Division counterparts near Colorado’s Front Range. There is no lottery, seldom a waitlist, and is a low key way to go on a hut trip.
There are two huts of sorts. For more advanced skiers (in terms of distance, elevation gain, avalanche awareness, and skill set to explore the area), there is the Bothy Wagon at the cusp of the treeline. I skied up to the location a couple of weeks ago, and I found the approach and descent to be fun on my heavier touring skis. However, I don’t think people new to backcountry touring would enjoy the experience. 🙂 For those who want more challenging tours or to explore backcountry bowls, this experience might be more to their liking. A good article talks about the Bothy Wagon in more detail.
The Tiny Home is what we booked and excellent for families, people new to ski touring, or if you want a quick getaway.
Naturally, you can snowshoe to these huts as well.
As mentioned, booking the huts is easy; email Roam Industry.
You reach both huts via the Dalton Springs Trailhead located in Monticello, UT. The road to the trailhead is typically plowed (but not always!) and is an easy five miles from the center of Monticello. Monticello itself is about an hour south of Moab.
Moab will have more options for gear, food, and other supplies vs. Monticello.
However, If you need last-minute supplies in town, Blue Mountain Foods is a reasonably well-stocked grocery store, and True Value Hardware has some basic outdoor supplies, too. If you need some adult libations, there is a tiny liquor store in town, also. These stores are not open on Sundays. Roam Industry itself offers some ski gear with some limited winter hours.
The Tiny Home, and the Bothy Wagon for more confident skiers, has an approach where a pulk (gear sled) makes things easier. I schlepped in both of our overnight gear and all the group’s food easily.
Post-trip? The Granary Bar and Grill in Monticello makes for a favorite post-trip watering hole for Joan and me over the past year. Very good “pub grub” with a good draft beer selection and a full bar. Not open on Sundays during the winter.
The Tiny Home itself
The Tiny Home has the essential cooking gear, a three-burner propane stove, sleeping pads, and a small Honda generator to power the lights and the propane heater and stove. Roam Industry requests that you use the vault toilet just out of the hut rather than the composting toilet in the tiny home itself.
The heater puts out a LOT of heat. Even when shut off at night, the excellent insulation of the hut meant my 22F quilt ended up being much too warm until about 3 AM or so. Joan, a cold sleeper, reported a similar experience. Likewise with our friends.
Though the hut has sleeping space for six, the house felt about right for four adults.
As of January 2020, the total cost came to $106 with taxes. Split among four people, a reasonable fee, in my opinion.
What to do?
There are lots of opportunities for skiing or snowshoeing at all levels.
You can follow the groomed trails both on the main road or off — the all-volunteer Blue Mountain Ski and Snowshoe Club grooms the trails.
You can follow beyond the groomed area and explore the network of roads and even ski up to just below Abajo Peak at North Creek Pass and beyond. The Hart’s Draw/Canyonlands Overlook makes for a memorable tour about 8 miles r/t from the winter trailhead.
You can check snow conditions and potential avalanche danger online.
I found the Blue Mountains Tiny Home hut trip experience to be a low key way to get my hut trip fix and sharing it with others. A fix without the logistic hassles of the 10th Mountain Division hut system, a short drive from our home at the south end of Moab, and easier access than the La Sal winter trailhead with its lower mileage but dicier roads and nearly as long drive.
Consider the Tiny Home option a good one if you make your way to the Moab area, and if you are a couple or two, and want an easily accessible hut trip that also offers some excellent winter delights.