WINTER PARK —After opening last winter, the Broome Hut has continued to draw a steady stream of visitors through the summer months.
Situated up the Second Creek Trailhead on Berthoud Pass, Broome is the first recreational hut operated by Grand Huts Association. At 1,800 square feet, the structure can accommodate up to 16 people overnight and offers a daytime stopover for hikers. Although huts are most popular among backcountry skiers and snowshoers, the hut has received its share of summertime bookings as well.
“The maintenance on the hut is expensive, so I’m grateful we have all these bookings coming in,” said Katie Soles, treasurer and board member for Grand Huts Association. “At least we know we’ll have funds in the future to cover costs — fundraising gets kind of old.”
All said, it took $454,835 to build the hut, which includes helicopter flights that helped deliver construction materials. Grand Huts Association values donations and the 6,000 hours of volunteer time at $307,765.
“We had some help from people with substantial means, but most of our money was raised in small amounts and in small pieces,” said Andy Miller of Grand Huts Association. “It was a group process.”
Soles credits much of the hut’s booking success to the 10th Mountain Division, which does all the marketing, booking and reservations (www.huts.org). The division also pays taxes and collects visitor waivers. It manages over 30 huts throughout Colorado’s mountains, and provided ongoing advice on how to best build the structure in Grand County.
“Without them getting the word out for reservations, we probably would’ve only had a (fraction) of what we have,” Soles said.
The Broome Hut is the first on Colorado’s public land in 20 years, according to Miller. It took 13 years for the Grand Hut Association to pull permits together and lobby the state legislature to change archaic water rights laws prohibiting visitors to use cisterns and snowmelt. The 10th Mountain Division kicked in funding to help pay Grand Hut’s legal battle.
As part of their mandate from the U.S. Forest Service, the Broome Hut provides free public access during the day in addition to paid overnight accommodation. The public access space is separate from the overnight area, and includes a composting toilet, picnic table and heat in the winter. The hut is open year-round. Although dogs are popular hiking companions on the Second Creek trail, they are not allowed in the hut.
Volunteers continue to be essential in the hut’s operation and maintenance, and can earn free overnight stays.
As Grand Hut Association grows and gains more support, it looks to eventually construct a chain of huts in the county, linking Broome all the way to Grand Lake, and making the area a popular place for backcountry travel year-round.
“With our Nordic ski emphasis in this county, and the type of terrain we have, this is a good place for a hut system,” Miller said. “As we get a better presence out-of -state, I think our summer presences will also grow.”