Occupying a special place in adventure lore, mountain huts have been offering a roof over travelers’ heads since the dawn of exploration.
If you can reach them, they provide a thrilling and wild escape from civilization down below – a place to marvel at starry night skies and then wake up to breathtaking panoramas.
Here are some of the most impressive ones to inspire your next expedition.
Desolation Peak Lookout, Washington State (6,102 ft, 1,860 m)
There are few better places to escape the world than a solitary house overlooking the gorgeous North Cascade Mountains.
This rugged, spartan landscape inspired “On the Road” writer Jack Kerouac to sojourn here for 63 days during the summer of 1956, resulting in the short story “Alone on a Mountaintop” and book “Desolation Angels.”
The windswept hut in question is a historic fire lookout with larger-than-life panoramas. It’s one of the best spots to marvel at the twin peaks of Hozomeen Mountain as well as a perfect place for existential soul searching.
It can be reached via the Desolation Peak Trail. Check the National Park Service website for detailed instructions.
Grands Mulets hut, France (10,010 ft, 3,051 m)
Located on the way to the Mont Blanc mountain range, the Grands Mulets refuge offers showstopping views of the Alps.
Set at an altitude of 3,051 meters, the hut’s first incarnation was built in 1853 to serve mountaineers exploring the alpine peaks.
Today it is one of the most popular mountain huts in France thanks to its strategic position and marvelous surroundings. Standing above the imposing Bossons glacier amid a snowy wonderland, Grands Mulets is almost worth an ascent on its own.
Visitors can book the refuge using the official website. It has 68 beds and is open from the end of March to the end of July.
Brandenburger Haus, Austria (10,751 ft, 3,277 m)
Standing in the very heart of the largest glacier system in the Eastern Alps, Brandenburger Haus is an almost surreal sight.
A little gray dot devoured by the gorgeous snowy landscapes, it was constructed back in 1909 to serve the German Alpine Club.
Currently, it enjoys a righteous place among the most stunning refuges in the Alps, offering a welcoming stop on the way to the summit of Dahmannspitze mountain.
Visitors should be aware that it’s in the expert-only league of mountain huts as the journey to reach it goes through complicated glacier routes. More details at the hut’s official website.
Konkordia hut, Switzerland (9,350 ft, 2,850 m)
One of the most legendary alpine huts in the world, Konkordia was built in 1877. Anyone reaching this place may have to constantly remind themself that they’re not dreaming, such is the power of the panoramas on offer.
The mighty Konkordiaplatz glacier and towering mountain tops can be seen from this fantastic observation point.
There’s also a worrying reminder of climate change. Back when the Konkordia hut was built, it was just 50 meters from the glacier. Today it stands 200 meters away as the natural wonder has melted away over the years.
Anyone staying here needs to reserve ahead of time via the official website.
Monte Rosa hut, Switzerland (9,459 ft, 2,883 m)
Reflecting the beauty of its magical surroundings with an aluminum covering, Monte Rosa may be one of the most well-designed and futuristic mountain huts in the world.
Inaugurated in 2009, replacing an old stone-clad refuge, this has been a travelers’ favorite ever since due to its comfort, sleek looks, outstanding location and the easy ascent to its door.
It’s a stunning place to spend a night above the glaciers, taking in the magnificent mountain view.
The hut’s official website has more information.
Rifugio Re Alberto, Italy (8,599 ft 2,621 m)
Rifugio Re Alberto is the kind of place that seems more fantasy video game location than real-life retreat.
But there’s no end-of-level boss to fight, just eye-wateringly gorgeous landscapes including the Vajolet Towers, the most precious jewels in Dolomites’ crown.
Waking up with the first rays of sunlight in the company of these jagged peaks is a wish-list experience that makes Re Alberto one of the most exceptional places on Earth.
The refuge is open only during the summer months and requires reservations. More info on the hut’s website.
Luxmore hut, New Zealand (3,560 ft, 1,085 m)
With fantastic views over Kepler Mountains and Lake Te Anau, Luxmore hut is one of the Fiordland National Park’s highlights and is a must-visit for anyone into wilderness tourism.
Its setup is pretty simple: 54 bunks, water supply, fuel for heating and some cooking facilities. Perfect for a digital detox.
A trip to the Fiordland National Park also offers the chance to see Kepler Mire, which stood in for the mysterious Dead Marshes in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy of movies.
The New Zealand National Parks website has details about visiting this hut.
Rabothytta hut, Norway (3,937 ft, 1,200 m)
Modern architecture meets the barren northern Norway landscapes at this amazing hut located in a glacial back of beyond.
Managed by the Norwegian Trekking Association, the striking, stylish building is a gateway to the Okstindan mountain range in Helgeland.
Far away from the tourist-frequented fjords or Lofoten Islands, Rabothytta offers total isolation in an unexplored land – the ultimate place to get away from it all.
Check out the official website for more information.
Castle Mountain hut, Canada (7,850 ft, 2,390 m)
Some mountain refuges are built to accommodate large numbers of people drawn to the hills during peak season.
And then there’s Castle Mountain hut.
This tiny six-person house, situated halfway to the top of the spectacular Castle Mountain in Canada’s Banff National Park, serves as a base for rock climbers as well as providing wonderful views of the Canadian Rockies.
Anyone lucky enough to find themselves here will find it minimally equipped with a propane stove and lantern.
Because what else do you really need to enjoy nature’s wonders?
The Alpine Club of Canada website details the practicalities of reaching the hut.
Lloyd MacKay hut, Canada (8,900 ft, 2,720 m)
The scenery on offer at the Lloyd MacKay hut is truly unforgettable.
Located amid the mightiest peaks of the continent, this modest refuge is guaranteed to be a highlight of any journey to the heart of the Jasper National Park in Canada.
With only six beds and humble yet functional furniture inside, Lloyd MacKay hut is an isolated and spartan bucket-list spot.
Check out the Alpine Club of Canada website to learn more.
Refugio Emilio Frey, Argentina (5,577 ft, 1,700 m)
Fairly easy to reach on a day hike, Refugio Emilio Frey is a treasure of Argentina’s superb Nahuel Huapi National Park.
It’s home to one of the most striking panoramas in all South America, with a turquoise lagoon reflecting the sharp Patagonian peaks.
Overnight stays are possible as the hut accommodates up to 40 guests and provides everything a mountain traveler needs.
The Bariloche tourism website has details.