More than likely, while exploring Eagle County after arriving via our mountain shuttle, you have come across signs for the “10th Mountain Division.”
The 10th mountain division near Vail is a non-profit organization that manages a system of 34 backcountry huts in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It commemorates the soldiers of the 10th mountain division of the U.S. Army which trained at Camp Hale constructed in 1942, between Leadville and Vail during World War II. It is connected by over 350 miles of trails and is great for backcountry skiing, mountain biking and hiking. Many of the huts are named after members of the 10th mountain division.
The 10th Mountain Division Hut is 11,370 feet in the mountains, several miles east of the Continental Divide. It was built in 1989 using funds from the veterans of the 10th mountain division. The hut itself holds up to 16 people. Camp Hale, located between Leadville, Colorado and the Vail area, is where the actual training facility was built and where the original 10th division started. The remnants of Camp Hale are located in the White River National Forest and it is a popular spot for tourists and travelers driving through Vail to Aspen, Colorado. The Jackal Hut is located at 11,660 feet, in central Colorado and is the closest hut to Camp Hale. It was built with money donated by Jack Schuss and Al Zesiger, both of who were strong supporters of 10th Mountain. Janet’s Hut is located on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide at 11,610ft, about 5 miles south of Vail Pass and Interstate Highway 70, in central Colorado. It sleeps 20 people with 4 bedrooms. Janet’s Cabin is dedicated to the memory of Janet Boyd Tyler, a Vail resident and avid skier who passed away in 1988.
Though the 10th Mountain Division was deactivated in 1945, a new division was organized in 1985 and is memorialized by monuments at Camp Hale and Summit Pass on Colorado Highway 24. This new division has earned the distinction of being the most deployed Army Division during the 1990’s, a time which has since seen the greatest number of deployed missions for the United States military forces and active since the end of World War II. While Vail, Breckenridge and Colorado as a whole are known for our amazing skiing,these areas are also rich in history that is ever present today.