Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    worcestershire UK

    Default Help with USDA cabins please

    Hi there
    we are currently planning next years trip. We arrive in Denver on 28th July and return to the UK on 16 August. We are planning to spend a few days either side of holiday in Rocky Mountain NP and surrounding areas but the mid part will be spent in Yellowstone areas. We have been to YNP several times before and have stayed in the park and in West Y'stone but this time we were wonderering about making use of the Forestry service cabins. We have looked at the cabins and locations etc until out eyes are sore but are still unsure of several things that I think that only someone who has experienced could answer and I wondered if there was anybody out there that could. We are obviously coming from uk so camping gear will be an issue unless we hire / buy in US which rather defeats the object!! can anyone tell me if they have stayed in one fairly local to YNP, what it was like etc etc and any other info you may feel helpful. I know that these cannot be booked until 6 months before visit so am hoping to have a list of possibilities by end of jan. Also I know some have very few facilities and some are a little more resourced. some of this info is available on websites but not very much on Gallatine NF for example.
    Thanks for reading

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Have you looked at

    That's the site where you'd go to make reservations, but it also has pretty detailed information about each cabin. For the most part, you would need to bring bedding and other basic supplies, as they generally only include basic furniture like matresses, a table and chairs, and a very basic kitchen with a stove. But, again, the exact details are going to be a little different with each cabin.

  3. Default 4 Mile in Boulder Canyon

    I've stayed at the 4 Mile in Boulder Canyon once, my husband and his best friend a couple of times. Lots of trout, grizzly signs, and an awesome to hike to Meatrack Meadow right behind the cabin. Can't beat the ambiance of the living space in that cabin and the view from the porch. Very basic though...outhouse and mice! It's isolated ( long long long gravel road to get there) but we saw plenty of people around. We were very comfortable and I can't wait to go back some day.

    My husband also stays at the Ruby River cabin. He describes it as more civilized, almost like a bare bones school house. Sometimes the rangers have horses on the property.. The area is easier to get around hiking wise, more bear (black) sightings there and wolf sightings! (all while out fly fishing) My husband prefers 4 Mile for the atomosphere.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Thank You.

    Hi ryderchic, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Thank you for your generosity of spirit sharing your first hand experience. I am sure it will be appreciated by the OP. This forum thrives on the first hand experiences of its members.

    Feel free to post whenever you have something to contribute. It will be appreciated!


  5. #5

    Default National Forest cabins

    Hello mac,

    The US Department of Agriculture includes the Forest Service among its many agencies, and the Forest Services manages tens of millions of acres of National Forests (NF) all over the US, including Gallatin NF on the fringe of Yellowstone National Park. YNP is a unit of the National Park Service, administered by the US Department of the Interior. The website and telephone call center is a national booking center for campsites, cabins, and other facilities coming under Federal management, so it is where one can research and book facilities under all Federal agencies' management. More on that below.

    I've booked and used NF cabins in southwest Montana. The majority were built as NF work crew bunkhouses from the days when daily travel back to towns took too long, so NF employees bunked at the cabins during their work week. They are quite spartan. They're fully equipped with cooking and cleaning equipment and supplies, but they're very small. Some are quaint in their own ways, be it from the setting or such, but they weren't designed for guest use. Hard to beat the price, however. By their nature as work crew bunkhouses, most are fairly far towards the end of the food chain (remote--long gravel road drives from paved highways). I stayed at Canyon Creek Cabin and Stony Creek Cabin within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF, and Canyon Creek is a good 20 miles from pavement while Stony Creek is closer at 10 miles from a paved road. In each case, it took about an hour to get there from the nearest town/supply point. Neither Canyon Creek nor Stony Creek have electricity or running water, and I suspect very few NF cabins do. Lanterns are among the gear provided.

    There are gems among the NF cabins, where the NFs have on occasion converted other facilities to rental use. I've had the distinct pleasure of staying at two NF cabins originally built as homes by homesteaders. To find these, one must just peruse the various NF websites seeking pictures of the cabins. You'll quickly learn to identify the bunkhouses vs other facilities.

    Be aware that the NFs also rent out forest fire lookout towers no longer in use. I'm not aware of any around YNP, but elsewhere in Montana and especially in Idaho, there are many. The lookout towers are very remote, some requiring 4WD to access. Pretty cool places to spend a few nights, though.

    The site may not be particularly new, but the participation of the various NFs for booking their cabins is a more recently developed situation. I think the NFs were required to participate starting in 2011. You are correct in that 6 months is as far in advance as one can book. What I haven't discovered is how to book a multi-night stay--do you start hitting the website at 6 months before the starting date and would you be allowed to book the subsequent nights? I tried in 2011 and could not do so for a site in Idaho. At that time, I was advised that the online booking and telephone booking times are simultaneous and that each begins accepting bookings at 10:00am Eastern US time. It would seem that some effort and good fortune would be required to book a highly desirable location for multiple nights unless the reservation system has changed since I last tried.

    One more note: while the NF cabins are "equipped", users would be well advised to bring fuel for the Coleman stoves, the lanterns, matches, disposable plates, flatware, and cups. Oh, and toilet paper. You'd hate to arrive at a location an hour's drive from town without some essentials. I don't think the NF service can always visit and inspect/resupply between guests, and all it takes is for your booking to follow an inconsiderate party's booking, and you're in a jam.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Wonderfull post -- Foy!

    I've made this a sticky -- I never knew about this program before. As a former USFS Lookout, I'd find such accommodations interesting. Hard to imagine there would be enough room for two people to sleep in one... (Unless, of course, they are "very" good friends).

    There wasn't much mention of bears and other large wildlife -- but in my experience -- bears and other such critters always include USFS backwoods cabins in their daily foraging routes... So, one has to be bear-aware when staying in such places. There are rewards -- as Foy mentioned, but a sense of self-sufficiency is required!


  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    There wasn't much mention of bears and other large wildlife -- but in my experience -- bears and other such critters always include USFS backwoods cabins in their daily foraging routes... So, one has to be bear-aware when staying in such places

    Oh yeah, to be sure some of the cabins in the Yellowstone area, particularly the north side towards Cooke City and Red Lodge, MT, have their own resident bear populations who stop by regularly. The cabins we used in far southwest MT were in grizzly-free areas and there were but few black bears in the areas.


  8. #8


    Also don't hesitate to check out state park yurts and cabins. You can find them at There are cabins and yurts in beautiful parks such a Pearl Lake, State Forest, Vega, etc.

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