Duck Lake Backcountry Hut Experience

A unique, full-service, backcountry hut experience at an abandoned ski area!

Image result for map location icon Duck Lake is located on Guanella Pass at 11,000 feet in the Front Range of Colorado.  From 1955 until 1957, when the lodge burned down, Duck Lake operated as a small ski area with one chair lift moving skiers up approximately 500 feet to enjoy turns down to the cabins.

Image result for question mark icon png Your 3 or 4 day adventure begins at the Winter closure of Guanella Pass Road, approximately 8 miles off of Hwy 285 from Grant, CO.  One of our guides will meet you and your group at the Geneva Creek Trailhead parking where we’ll load up your overnight gear and food and wisk it up it up the road to Duck Lake.  This is where you’ll begin your peaceful ski approach to the cabin.

Image result for skier icon png The best part:  you’ll be staying just steps away from the famous abandoned Geneva Basin Ski Area, which closed its doors (and lifts) for good in 1989 and was featured in the 2018 documentary Abandoned.  You can also read about skiing Geneva Basin here.

Skinning down the “old road” for just 10-15 minutes, you’ll find yourself standing in the ski area parking lot, looking up at a variety of old ski runs that have been slowly returning to their natural state over the last three decades.  From here you’ll climb over a thousand feet to find your dream powder run.

The Cabins

Julie’s Inn

Julie lived in her cabin at 11,200 feet from 1966 until October 2019.  She raised her family here and later hosted friends from all over the Front Range for coffee talk, card games, and exploring the terrain around Guanella Pass.  She’s a real mountain woman, sharp as a fire iron, and tough as the granite cliffs surrounding Geneva Basin.

Julie’s Inn was originally the ticket office for the Duck Lake Ski Area and is now a bright, warm, and inspiring ski hut, nestled in a spruce forest just a few hundred feet below treeline.

Blue Piano

The Blue Piano cabin, in it’s alpine villa style, was the centerpice of Alpendorf on the Lake, the name given to the property by the original owners, the Coors family.  Adorned by it’s namesake blue piano, quirky dutch door, and ornate turn-of-the-century stove, sleeps 8 comfortably

Trailhead Location

The parking and trailhead is located at the Duck Creek Picnic Area.

Access to the trailhead is along Highway 62 (Guanella Pass Rd.) just 7 scenic miles from  Highway 285 at Grant, CO.

Getting to Duck Lake

You’ll meet your guide and porter (who will do all the heavy lifting) in the parking area.  This is where your experience truly begins.  Your route will follow Duck Creek toward Guanella Pass, in the shadow of Mt Bierstadt, along the edge of the Bierstadt-Evans Wilderness.  This easy-to-travel route meets the original Guanella Pass Road (now a wooded trail) and winds its way up the valley to the abandoned Geneva Basin Ski Area.  Another quick 20-30 minutes and you’ll be greeted by your hut master with snacks and hot beverages at the historic Duck Lake Ski Area.

Lodging Specs

The historic nature of these cabins makes them RUSTIC and it also make them AMAZING!

  • Hydroelectric or propane powered lights.
  • Propane and woodstove heat.
  • Fresh water delivered by mountain creek (no snowmelt required).
  • New, clean, modern, foam mattresses.
  • Each cabin sleeps 6 comfortably.
  • Equipped with full kitchens with propane stoves.
  • Easy access to the famously abandoned Geneva Basin Ski Area with great backcountry powder skiing.
  • Located along a closed highway, near a mountain pass, allowing for a truly serene experience.
  • Plenty of history…

What You Need to Bring

For your comfort we recommend:

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Compact Pillow
  • Alpine touring setup or splitboard.  (top-of-the-line equipment available for rent directly from CAG)
  • Avalanche rescue equipment (FREE demo gear available from CAG in partnership with Ortovox)
  • Ski touring outerwear and layers.  (see backcountry ski equipment list here
  • Hut booties or slippers
  • Apres clothing
  • Your preferred adult beverages (will be transported by porter)
  • Great attitude!

The Experience

This is not a hut trip.  This is a backcountry experience.  

Day 1:

  • Guided tour to Duck Lake
  • Begin building on your backcountry knowledge with an AIARE Avalanche Rescue course to hone your skills that you will rely in the case of an emergency.
  • Delicious meal provided by your hut-master and guide.

Day 2*:

  • Start with coffee and breakfast to fuel the day.
  • Complete your AIARE Avalanche Rescue Course
  • Lunch and tour planning with your guide and hut-master
  • Free afternoon of unguided ski touring.
  • Return to cabin for apres, story-telling, and dinner.

* add a day for more relaxation or exploration

Day 3:

  • Another great mountain breakfast and tour planning with your guide.
  • Day of discovering your own powder stashes.  Packed lunch provided.
  • Meet your guide in the basin for the descent back to the trailhead.

The Price

3 Days – 2 Nights = $900/person

4 Days – 3 Nights = $1150/person

Price includes:

  • Hut accommodations
  • Porter service / hut-master
  • Professional Guide and AIARE Instructor (Geneva Basin Ski Area excepted)
  • FREE avalanche safety equipment from Ortovox
  • 2 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners

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