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Northern Rockies

These New Ski-In/Ski-Out Digs Are Not Your Typical Luxe Lodging—In the Best Possible Way

Colo's Bluebird Backcountry debuts skin-in geodesic domes this season that guarantee first tracks, last tracks, and everything in between.

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A day at Bluebird Backcountry offers a return to the simpler days of skiing. In lieu of chairlifts, you’ll find skin tracks, and instead of pricey, advance reservation parking, the parking lot is free and slopeside. At Bluebird, the daily skiers are capped at 200 and dogs are welcome.

The backcountry ski area’s newest venture, a series of cabins and geodesic domes for overnight guests, is a far cry from the typical five-star hotel found at most base areas—in the best possible way. Sure, there’s ski-in, ski-out access—and in fact, the skin track is practically at your doorstep—but après is BYOB and dinner is whatever you packed in on your back.

Brown Bear Cabins Bluebird
The new Brown Bear Cabins at Bluebird Backcountry. Could this thing be any cuter? Photo: Justin Wilhelm

These new accommodations, the Skin-To Domes, Basecamp Domes, and Brown Bear Cabins, are coming online this month and add an additional layer of adventure to the experience at the country’s only lift-free, backcountry resort. The Skin-to Domes ($229/night) require a two-mile skin to access, and sleep five skiers. Each comes outfitted with a wood-burning stove and access to a fully stocked kitchen and composting toilets.

Skiers who want to skip the skin and sleep at base area can book one of the five-person Basecamp Domes ($229/night), which all have access to a shared kitchen and outhouses. Meanwhile, those with winterized vans or campers can park at the base area and use the facilities for $25 a night.

For more traditional lodging, the low-key, low-cost Grizzly Hostel ($59/night) is a quarter-mile skin from the base area. Nearby, the two-person Brown Bear Cabins ($109/night) are barebones but cozy. A shared kitchen and outhouses make up the amenities.

Bluebird’s base area amenities include gear rental (including shovel, beacon, probe rentals), ski lessons, avalanche courses, guided skiing, and regular fireside events. A low-key snack stand is stocked with packaged and hot food items, including S’mores and breakfast burritos.

Bluebird Backcountry is located at Bear Mountain just 35 minutes southeast of Steamboat Springs. The northern Colorado ski area, which is the state’s newest, has over 1,200 acres of avalanche-controlled in-bounds terrain, 28 runs, and 11 marked skin tracks. It is the only chairlift-free ski area in the U.S.

A Bluebird Backcountry day pass starts at $39 and a season pass starts at $249. All season passes include an unlimited Dog Pass (a $10/day value). Bluebird Backcountry and all lodging is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.