Portland, OR

5 Remote Forest Service Cabins You Can Rent Near Portland


Photo by Grant Benesh on Unsplash

During my late twenties, I volunteered for several years with an Americorps organization based out of Saint Louis. Every summer and fall, we headed to Montana to be trained by the US Forest Service. In exchange, we gave them some of our hard-labor and helped them maintain the Beaverhead-Dearlodge National Forest.

One task was given to us that we all enjoyed: maintaining the Forest Service Cabins. Prior to this stint with the Corps, I had no idea that the USFS owned and kept rustic cabins countrywide. It was a delightful surprise.

The best part? These cabins are available for the public to rent, usually year-round. They are often located in some of the most scenic parts of the country. I’m talking cabins in lush forests with gorgeous mountain ranges that stretch on for miles and bubbling creeks steps from the backdoor.

However, they also tend to be quite remote. This means they are perfect for hunters, adventurers, and those wishing to get a little TLC and relaxation away from the crowds.

It should be said that these cabins should only be rented by those who are fully prepared. Often, they need a sturdy 4x4 vehicle to get to. Sometimes the only way is to hike, horseback ride, cross country ski, snowmobile, or snowshoe. Most don’t have running water, some don’t have heat, and usually, outhouses are the bathroom of choice.

If these facts don’t deter you, you’ll find remote, quaint cabins amid breathtaking scenery. Here are 6 of those cabins located within the State of Oregon that intrepid Portlanders can rent for a weekend staycation.

Happy camping!

Clear Lake Cabin Lookout

This Lookout Tower sits on Clear Lake Butte. The 4,454-foothill is covered with fir trees and is located on the south side of Mt. hood. The lookout tower is on the northwest corner of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. In the summertime, this watchtower is still used to spot wild fires! The tower itself is 40-feet tall and offers views of Clear Lake and Timoty Lake.

The cabin itself sits on top of the tower. Surrounding the house is a wooden catwalk, with a 14 x 14 room inside. The room has a small bed, a wood stove which heats the cabin. A table and chairs are provided as well. There is a propane stove to cook with, as well as solar lights. You’ll need to bring your water to cook with, drink, and wash with.

Toilets and a shed with firewood are located on the ground. To get your bedding, food, and necessities up the tower, there is a pulley system for you to use.

Green Ridge Lookout

This two-story tower sits on the side of Green Ridge. There is a short boardwalk to the building from the parking area. A single story of steps leads to the deck that surrounds the cabin. Inside the one-room house are a futon, table, chairs, propane fridge, light, wall heater, three-burner stove and oven, and necessary cooking utensils.

You’ll need to bring your water to this site. Additionally, you must provide sleeping bags and other necessities like food. There is lighting in the cabin, but it is strongly recommended that you provide additional lighting.

If you stay here, you will be treated to snow-capped mountain peak views as well as miles of pine, cedar, and fir trees stretching out as far as you can see. The most prominent peak in your view will be a 10-foot volcano. Nearby are scenic rivers, springs, and more outdoor activity than one could hope to do on the weekend.

Government Mineral Springs Guard Station

Up to nine guests can sleep in this two-story cabin. On the first floor, there is a large kitchen that includes a propane stone. Additionally, a dining room and living room are located on the first floor, complete with table, chairs, fireplace, and couches. The couches turn into double beds. Upstairs are two bedrooms as well.

The Forest Service provides propane lights, heating, and a cooking stove in addition to wood for the fireplace. The kitchen has pots, pans, and other dishes needed for cooking. There is a vault toilet located outside. However, there is no potable water.

There is a stream within 300 feet that must be treated to drink for guests who can treat water. Melted snow can also be used for washing but is not safe to drink. Guests should provide their sleeping bags, soap, matches, and toilet paper. It’s advised to bring an additional light source as well!

Five Mile Butte Lookout

This popular lookout can only be accessed by skiing, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing 3 miles to the location during the winter.

This lookout, like most, sits on a 40-foot fire tower. There is a wooden catwalk that surrounds it. Inside there is a small 14 by 14 room with a bed, a table and chairs, and a wood stove used to heat the cabin.

Additionally, there is a propane cook stove as well as solar-powered lights. There is no water on-site, so guests should be prepared to pack their needed water or treat water as needed.

A pulley system is used to transport gear up the fire tower. Firewood is provided as well. Guests will need to bring sleeping bags, soap, food, and other necessities. There is a vault toilet located near the base of the tower.

The views from inside this fire tower are genuinely stunning and well worth the trip.

Clackamas Lake Historic Cabin

This two-story, 1,300 square foot cabin can sleep up to eight people. It is located less than 40 miles from Mt. Hood, where hiking abounds. On-site, there is a propane cook stove and oven, cooking pots and pans, fridge, and all of the utensils and necessities you need for cooking. Just bring your food! There is hot and cold running water available at the cabin, and the place is heated through a fireplace indoors - the Forest Service provides firewood.

The lighting is rustic, and the generator cannot support electronic devices. The cabin is accessible by vehicle, although snow conditions may vary. Don’t forget to pack your food and bedding!

These remote forest service cabins are often overlooked. However, for the adventurous hunter, angler, hiker, or backpacker, they are real gems. Most people have no idea these beauties even exist, let alone rent them for a weekend.

If you’re prepared to haul in the necessities, these remote cabins are a dream to rent. Take your friends for a weekend hunting trip and drink beer around the fire of one of these lookouts. If you’re a romantic type, bring your significant other to one of these Ranger Stations for a vacation filled with nothing but the joy of each other’s company and the sounds of the wild nature around you.

Which of these are on your list? Would you stay here?

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I am a travel writer and sustainable lifestyle blogger. As a world traveler, I love giving others tips on budget travel, new cultures, and how to see the planet in a sustainable, ethical way. I also write on being a digital nomad, hiking and outdoor activities, as well as living an adventurous lifestyle.

Santa Fe, NM

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