Go Guide: Finding a Weekend Cabin That Isn't Booked
By KEEN Ambassador Charles Post
How many times have you dreamed up grand plans for a camping adventure only to find that all the campsites and cabins you know of are booked? This happens to me more than I’d like to admit.
Recently, my wife, Rachel Pohl, and I were keen to get into the mountains for the weekend and were having some trouble navigating the government websites that allow you to reserve one of the hundreds of campsites and U.S. Forest Service cabins peppered across North America. So we tried something new: Hipcamp, which lists campsites and cabins on public and private land. We were stoked to see that there was a reservation opening for a cabin just up the road from our house, about 15 miles into the mountains.
Charles' go-to winter boot is the insulated Targhee High Lace Boot.
If you haven’t experienced one of these hidden gems, you’ll be glad to hear that these cabins are absolutely photo-worthy structures that are equally worth the drive and hike into them. Some are super easy to access with seasonal roads (4x4 often helps!) that allow you to pull right up to the front door, while others require a bit more adventure. Rachel and I have hiked into cabins miles into the backcountry and also benefited from cabins that stand feet away from a two track.
Waking up in the backcountry makes the next day’s adventure all the sweeter.
This fall we had a chance to stay at one of our all-time favorite cabins, which is tucked away in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. If you’ve spent some time in Montana, you might just recognize this one!
One of the things that I love about this place is that there’s a creek just a stone's throw from the front porch, which often boasts an abundance of brook trout eager to bite a tasty caddisfly or mayfly. We have had some great days fishing there! Also, there’s a huge wood shed, which always has an axe ready for splitting, and dry wood ready for the stove. Even on the coldest of nights, a warm stove usually does the trick.
Waking up in the backcountry makes the next day's adventure all the sweeter. Often times, you’re already on the way to your destination, be it a distant ridgeline or meadow for some winter ski turns. Having a cabin to come back to for a bite and some warmth by the stove makes these adventures among my favorite. And not to mention, typically the cost of renting one of these Forest Service cabins is very affordable.
The real trick is finding an open night for a reservation. Recreation.gov is a great resource, and now I'm bookmarking Hipcamp.com as another go-to booking site. Between these two sites, searching for a Forest Service cabin is an absolute breeze. The one reminder is to leave the cabins as you found them: clean and tidy!