Every autumn it happens: By the time the weather chills, and it occurs to me that I want to escape to a cozy cabin in the woods—it's too late to book one. This year, I'm vowing not to let that happen. I'm planning now for my fall getaway.
Here are ten of our favorite cabin retreats across the West—well worth taking a moment to reserve now and enjoy later!
1. Far MeadowSierra National ForestThis small collection of cabins includes the idyllic A-frame pictured above. This "Base Camp" property sits on 5 wild, empty acres 12 miles from Yosemite's south entrance, with other properties farther east, above Bass Lake. All the accommodations are stylish and remote, with ample opportunities to swim, fish, hike, or stargaze… and happily, that's about all.
2. The Ranch at Emerald ValleyColorado Springs, COThis Rocky Mountains retreat, which opened in August 2013, gives you the best of both worlds: a secluded log-cabin escape, surrounded by 100,000 acres of the Pike National Forest, plus all the luxuries of a major resort. The sprawling Broadmoor is just down the hill, and cabin guests have access to its swimming pools, tennis courts, restaurants, and five-star spa.
3. Glen OaksBig Sur, CASeptember and October bring the sunniest, warmest weather of the year to this dramatic stretch of Cali coast—a prime time to visit Glen Oaks. This Highway 1 gem has a main lodge with 16 rooms, but it’s the eight renovated cabins and two cottages along the burbling Big Sur River that are the most coveted. None more so than the Big Sur Cabin, with its private patio, outdoor firepit, and twin side-by-side clawfoot tubs, set up for soaking under the stars. What this 1957 motor lodge turned eco-mod retreat lacks in sparkling ocean views, it makes up for with the kind of rare, woodsy quiet that comes only from ancient, soaring redwoods. That includes the 500-year-old, 12-foot-wide, 100-plus-foot-tall Grandmother Pfeiffer Redwood, the second-largest tree in all of Big Sur.
4. Rolling HutsMazama, WAA hybrid of rustic glamping and high design, this sleek herd of modern steel-wheeled cottages—arranged in a sweeping grassy meadow that was once an RV park—has floor-to-ceiling views of the foothills, sleeping platforms and clever modular furniture, cozy woodstoves, and, unlike your typical tent, Wi-Fi. Each hut also has an adjacent portable toilet. The Methow River is a stone's throw from the sunny decks, and some of Washington State's best hiking and fishing aren't much farther.
5. Dunton Hot SpringsDolores, COLog onto Dunton’s live webcam and the scene looks straight out of the 1800s: a cluster of 12 Lincoln Log–like cabins scattered across a meadow at the foot of the towering San Juan Mountains—a tipi here, a wagon wheel there, steamy natural hot springs everywhere. If you make the trek to this restored ghost town in remote southwestern Colorado, you’ll find full-on 21st-century luxury as well. It’s the kind of riverfront rusticity that can run you a thousand dollars a night, where both fly-fishing and reflexology are on the agenda, and the “Saloon” is more like an inventive, outdoorsy French Laundry, serving slow-roasted elk tenderloin and reserve bottles of Napa’s best. Though Dunton recently added eight canvas tents to its Cresto Ranch site, 4 miles downriver, its 12 cabins, originally built out of aspen and cottonwood in 1885, have been sought-after escapes since 2001, when they reopened with outdoor rainshowers, ready-to-light fireplaces, and Rajasthani wedding beds. Couples come from all over the world to hike, ride horseback, and soak in the 107° hot springs, as the odd elk, moose, or black bear strolls by. November is the best time to visit: Rates are at their lowest, and the river water’s still warm enough for swimming.
6. Rimrock Ranch CabinsPioneertown, CASurrounded by tumbleweed, cactus, and the twisted trunks of Joshua Tree National Park, 20 miles to east, this 10-acre retreat is all about the stars. Hollywood celebs like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers used to hole up here in the 1950s, but we’re also talking galaxies, smeared across the expansive, dark desert sky. You can stargaze from the Adirondack chair on your private patio, which proprietor Jim Austin keeps warm with a wood-stoked firepit. During the day, you can lounge in the hammocks or swim in the pool, an aboveground oasis filled with mineral water. Built in 1947, the property’s four knotty-pine cabins are decorated in “desert eclectica” (antique lamps, patchwork quilts, and vintage posters)—which makes Rimrock a far cry from the Four Seasons, and that is entirely, exactly the point.
7. Point No Point ResortShirley, B.C.It exists: that private waterfront cabin with front-row views of the crashing Pacific, crackling fireplaces, and nary another tourist in sight—for less than $200 a night. So why haven’t you heard much about Point No Point before? Perhaps because it’s on Vancouver Island and Canadians have somehow learned to keep these sorts of special places a secret. Point No Point’s 25 simple log cabins were built on a cliff, some in the 1950s, but there have been gradual improvements over the decades, such as new two-person showers and, most recently, a hot tub on almost every wooden deck. Shaker-style furniture, bright red Adirondack chairs, and warm cedar walls give the cabins a timeless feel, as does the winding country road, which you can follow from rugged beach to beach, back to your own empty stretch of sand, complete with a covered firepit to keep you warm. When it’s time for dinner, you can continue up the path to the intimate on-site restaurant. One of Vancouver Island’s best, it has walled-in windows so you can scan for otters, whales, and dolphins (binoculars are on every table) over locally caught salmon and seared scallops.
8. The Resort at Paws UpGreenough, MTPalatial, canvas-walled tents come with butler service and furnishings worthy of the Ritz: paintings hanging above king-size feather beds, surrounded by plush pile rugs; terry-cloth robes as fluffy as Big Sky Country clouds; elk-antler bedside lamps; private bathrooms with rain showers and heated floors. At suppertime, you’ll gather with fellow campers in a sweeping dining pavilion to savor gourmet creations like sautéed quail with summer black truffles; s'mores are available on demand. Guests can sign up for everything from world-class fly-fishing lessons to hot-air ballooning and when they're done, retreat to Spa Town, a tranquil outpost of tents for massages, pedicures, and aromatherapy ringing the edge of a meadow. Right out the door you'll have access to 37,000 acres of Montana wilderness, in the conifer forests of the Blackfoot Valley, including 10 miles of the Blackfoot River—of A River Runs Through It fame.
9. Steep Ravine CabinsMill Valley, CALocation, location, location. These 9 one-bedroom cabins are bare bones, sans water or electricity, but they’re perched on the edge of the world, overlooking the Pacific, just a stone’s throw from postcard-ready Stinson Beach. You can spot whales, waves, and sunsets from your window—the Pacific Coast dream. Just beyond, there's hiking through 6,300 acres of surrounding redwood groves in Mt. Tamalpais State Park. San Francisco is just a 15-minute drive south. Scoring a reservation is tough, but you can sometimes score last-minute rentals via a lottery; call 415/388-2070 for details.
10. Fireside ResortWilson, WYJust 6 miles from Teton Village, the fluffy-powder-filled backcountry surrounds the cabins. Each has a fireplace and pillow-top mattresses; the cabins’ siding is reclaimed snow fencing from Interstate 80; the hardwood floors are made from Douglas fir deadwood; and even the ceilings are recycled barn wood. The cabins are close together, but they're so well designed, with a glass doorway and high windows that let in lots of light, that your neighbors seem to disappear once you step inside. For extra privacy, they're angled to maximize views of the woodsy property. The resort supplies firewood and s'mores kits for use at the campfires.