When I was younger, I was a volunteer with an organization based out of Saint Louis, Missouri. Every summer, we drove to Montana to be trained as firefighters and sawyers by the United States Forest Service. To make this a fair exchange, we paid them back in kind in labor.
Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
One task, in particular, I always loved. Maintaining the United States Forest Service Cabins was an outstanding job, although it usually involved a lot of hard work. Prior to working with this nonprofit, I had no idea that the Forest Service owned these cabins. For years after my volunteering, I even thought it was just a Montana thing. It’s not. Actually; these cabins exist throughout the country.
These rustic, remote cabins are often available year-round to the public. They are usually located in an incredibly scenic part of the countryside—lush forests, steep mountain ranges, wide-open prairies, or sitting next to rushing rivers.
When I say remote, though, I genuinely mean it. These cabins are not for the faint of heart. If you want some relaxation in one of these cabins, the chances are that you will need 4x4 to get there - or even a pair of cross-country skis.
It is a must that you are entirely prepared to go to these cabins. Some cabins don’t have running water. Others, you must use a vault toilet. Still, others are miles from the nearest road. However, if these facts don’t deter you, you will find yourself the only person out in vast, breathtaking scenery.
Out of all the cabins I was privileged enough to rehabilitate during my time volunteering in Montana, these are my favorites. Enjoy them, respect them, and most of all, stay safe!
Happy trails, folks!
If you want to book this rustic log cabin on the lake, you’ll need to be prepared to hike! In the summer this cabin is accessible by hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking. In the winter, be prepared to cross country ski or snowshoe.
This cabin will sleep up to four people in bunk beds. There is a wood-burning stove to keep the cabin warm. Table and chairs, cookware, and basic dishes are provided. Firewood is supplied and there is a fire ring as well as a corral for horses. No electricity or water is provided at the cabin, so bring your own.
In the summer, Porcupine Cabin is reachable by a vehicle provided you have a high clearance, 4x4. In the winter, be prepared to snowshoe up to 2 miles. This cabin has three rooms and can fit up to eight people. There is a screened-in porch as well!
A wood stove is available to heat the cabin, and tables and chairs are provided along with basic cooking utensils. An outhouse is located outside the cabin. Guests will need to provide water, food, and other amenities.
This cabin is accessible by vehicle in the summer and fall. However, in winter guests will have to ski or snowmobile up to 10 miles to reach the cabin. This cabin has a downstairs and a lofted area, which holds two beds. Up to four people can sleep in the cabin.
There is a wood stove for heat, but it might not be sufficient in very cold temperatures. Guests should provide water, food, and other necessities. There is no electricity in the cabin. There is a campfire ring and outhouse located outside.
In the summer months, you’ll need a motorcycle or ATV to get to the Lookout, which has panoramic mountain views. In the winter, be prepared to snowshoe, snowmobile, or ski up to 10 miles to reach this cabin. The cabin holds bunk beds that will fit up to 4 people.
There are heat and a propane stove for cooking. The Lookout has basic cookware and dishes, as well as a vault toilet outside. Firewood is provided, and there is a fire ring outside. Note that there is no electricity or water at the Lookout.
This popular cabin is accessible in the summer by car, but the road is closed to motor vehicles in the spring. In the winter, it will depend on the conditions - often cars can make the trip with 4x4 and high clearance. Other times guests must ski 12 miles to the cabin.
Twin beds with mattresses will sleep up to four people comfortably. A wood-burning stove heats the cabin and can be used for cooking. Table and chairs, and cleaning supplies are included. Guests should note that there is no electricity or water at the site. The outhouse is located outside.
Bear Creek can be accessible year-round by vehicle. However, at times the road may be muddy and ill-kept. This cabin is one room, and the foam beds will sleep up to two people. This cabin has a fridge, stove, oven, and basic cooking supplies.
The room has electricity, and a wood stove to heat the cabin. During the winter, the water at the nearby creek may be difficult to access so bring your own. During the summer water from the creek can be treated for use. Guests will need to bring their own toilet paper and garbage bags to clean up.
If you are an adventurer, hiker, backpacker, angler, or hunter: don’t overlook these remote forest service cabins. Most people don’t even know these gems exist! However, the word is starting to get out, so if you are wanting to rent one of these beauties plan ahead.
If you are prepared and bring the full list of necessities, these cabins and Ranger Stations could be a real dream to rent. A heated place to lay your head after a long, glorious day of recreating in some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Take your friends and have a few beers around the fireplace, or take your significant other and spend an evening watching stars that few will get to see in such a spectacular fashion.
Whatever you do, make sure you are prepared! So which of these cabins are on your list?