February 2019 RACC Business of the Month: San Juan Hut Systems
In an ongoing effort to promote and get to know our local businesses, the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to introduce our February 2019 RACC Business of the Month...
San Juan Hut Systems
Please tell us about the business’s owners.
Joe Ryan (father) and Kelly Ryan (daughter) are the owners of San Juan Hut Systems (SJHS). Joe is originally from Kansas City but has spent all of his adult life wandering the West's mountains. Kelly has always considered this area home as her father has lived here her whole life and the San Juans call to her.
What inspired you to start this business?
Joe saw the potential for providing access to the natural mountain environment in our area and wanted to make that easier for people to enjoy.
Please tell us in as many words as you like, all about your business and what your business goals are? Do you have a mission statement?
Our mission is to provide low-impact, human-powered, lightweight backcountry adventures of a lifetime.
One of the things that is so great about our area and unique about our business is that we are able to provide one-of-a-kind experiences, just about year-round. Right now, in the winter we have backcountry ski huts that you can link together from Telluride to Ouray, Nordic ski into one for the night, or use to access truly awesome backcountry ski and ski mountaineering terrain.
We also have our Spring Creek Hut on the Uncompahgre Plateau, which is great for fat biking and cross-country outings. In the spring and fall, we offer our newest route, the Tour of the Canyons, a mixed-surface bike ride from Grand Junction to Moab. In the summer, we offer two mountain bike routes ending in Moab, one that starts in Telluride and the other in Durango. These hut-to-hut mountain bike trips are probably our most unique offering and what we are best known for.
What is unique about your business?
We are a father/daughter partnership. We also have wonderful staff and other family members who are part of the team. We are all animal lovers. Collectively we have two domestic horses, two mustangs, a burro, an assortment of sheep, cats and 14 dogs, all of whom are considered family. The Ryan residence is below our North Pole Hut, only accessible by ski or snowmobile in the winter, and two sets of kids have been raised there.
With more than 30 years of business here, we are one of the older businesses still operating in the area. We have 16 huts connected by more than 600 miles of awesome routes.
What brought you to Ridgway?
The ice climbing originally brought Joe to the area and Kelly was brought by her parents. Though she left for a while, the mountains, desert, wilderness, and sunshine brought her back and has kept her here.
What do you like most about Ridgway?
That you can walk everywhere you need to go, the local trail networks and rural roads accessible from town, and views of the mountains. Kelly also appreciates the dirt roads, cows, the few remaining ranches, great local hardware store, and dog-friendly atmosphere. It is pretty ideal.
What are your biggest challenges and rewards?
Our biggest challenges are preserving wild spaces and access to those spaces. Our biggest rewards are knowing that every week people are literally making memories of a lifetime in our splendid backyard.