Did you ever want to throw your phone out the window and just sit in the woods and do nothing for 12 hours? Or hike in a forest full of trees and birds to a waterfall and dive in the icy cold water and forget that your job/ex/bills/everything else exists? Or sleep in a log cabin with no internet and all the stars in the sky above? What if it was cheap/basically free? Book a forest service cabin in Montana and you can! Scroll down to see how!
Just visit https://www.recreation.gov/ click on camping and lodging and enter the dates you want to go. Otherwise you can click on the cabins you like and under campsites you will see a calendar which will show any available dates. Some are first come first served in which case the calendar will say "ff" or it will have an A for available or NR for not released meaning those dates are not open to reserve yet. Booking availability open 6 months before the desired date and they go quick so you have to plan ahead!
These are very rustic cabins or fire lookouts so don't expect wifi and Nespresso machines but many have electricity and cooking equipment along with a wood stove for warmth and some basic beds. Be sure to read the descriptions as some require hiking in and you will likely need to pack in your own water. But at $65 or less a night you can't beat the experience! We have highlighted a few of our favorites here but be sure to check the website for the full offering. All of these places are a great way to what experience what makes Montana a true treasure...hiking, biking, rafting, skiing, hunting, fishing, sitting fireside with friends and family and just going off the grid for a little bit.
Spend the night looking out over the mountains at Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout and hike the trails around you by day! At 8,245 feet you can see multiple mountain ranges including Spanish Peaks, Gallatin and Hyalite ranges as well as the Gallatin River below. Access to this lookout is by hike, bike, snow shoe or ski so you gotta work for it but it is worth it!
The fire lookout provides a panoramic view of the mountains surrounding it.
Mystic Lake Cabin was built in 1930 and is on the water about 7 miles from the trailhead at Sourdough Canyon. It does not have electricity but it is tucked into the mountains and the views are amazing. You might even spot some of the resident grizzly bears or elk that frequent the area! There is a well travelled trail getting there and you can hike, horseback ride, mountain bike or cross country ski depending on the time of year. There is fishing, hiking, hunting, bike trails and good old fashioned relaxing to be had there!
Now we head North and check out the cabins available in Glacier National Park. Wurtz Cabin is one of the easier to access cabins located near Polebridge, Montana. It was originally a homestead property built in 1913 and is so cozy you won't want to leave. It is accessible by car which makes this a great option for families and can sleep up to 12. As always there is hiking, fishing and any other outdoor activity you could want here. Hands down the perfect way to see Glacier Park is from your own little homestead!
Another amazing fire outlook also located near Polebridge at a jaw dropping 6,744 feet is the Hornet Lookout. Climb up the stairs to the cupola to see panoramic views of Glacier National Park and if you're lucky you might even catch the Northern Lights dancing in the clear night skies! Access requires a hike but at only 1 mile it's not too bad. As with the other offerings cell phone coverage is spotty at best so bringing first aid kits is essential, as well as water, food and any other essentials. Built in 1922 this cute as button lookout is in high demand so plan ahead!
There are so many amazing places to see in Montana so why not see them in style? Get away from it all in your own little cabin in the woods! Mark your calendars and get on your computers right at 8am MST to book your stay. Be sure to follow all safety and courtesy precautions like bear proof containers and packing all garbage out when you're done. Most of these places don't have regular cleaning offered so it is up to campers to clean up after themselves and bring in your own cleaning supplies to make it nice for the next visitors.