Yosemite may be only 12 miles away, but Far Meadow’s Base Camp, in some ways, trumps the iconic park. No valley floor swarmed with bus tours or crowded cafeterias—just you, your friends, and family tucked into a 750-square-foot pine cabin, with 5 glorious High Sierra acres all to yourselves. The Base Camp cabin—undamaged by the infamous Rim Fire, which actually stopped 100 miles north—was remodeled in 2013, with the addition of a second bedroom and French doors that open onto the deck. In autumn, you’ll find the kind of Technicolor fall foliage that’ll make you think you’ve landed in New England. A bit farther east, above Bass Lake (and the snow line), Far Meadow maintains five additional properties in the Sierra National Forest: There's an A-frame alongside a log cabin, two outfitted trailers, and another, older A-frame. From late May to November, you can swim, fish, and hike your heart out. After that, these five solar-powered accommodations remain open, but getting there gets more complicated. In winter, after the road closes, they’re accessible only by snowmobile or snowcat, and guides will take only the adventurous in—to cross-country ski, snowshoe, make snow angels—with a friendly reminder to stay safe. As manager Kris Roni puts it, “This is the High Sierra, and we are, always, at the whims of nature.”
Best time to go: November if you’re adventurous, or June for the Sierra’s sunny, clear-sky days.
Surrounded by tumbleweed, cactus, and the twisted trunks of Joshua Tree National Park, 20 miles 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. Austin considers Rimrock his ongoing art project, and repeat guests are likely to notice new additions every few months: an 18-ton rock heart sculpture for weddings, say, or even the strikingly modern, multiuse space he constructed with a suite for rent. Rimrock is a far cry from the Four Seasons, and that is entirely, exactly the point.
Best time to go: Early spring, when the desert wildflowers are in bloom.
Let the luxury hotels on Big Sur’s dramatic coast have all the glory—in-the-know Highway 1 travelers would rather keep Glen Oaks all to themselves. The main lodge has 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. (In fact, according to Glen Oaks’s manager, they’ve already poached a few guests from high-end Ventana and Post Ranch Inn who’ve realized they can spa and sup there—but save a load by bunking at Glen Oaks instead.) 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 snuggling under a Pendleton wool blanket by the crackling fire, beneath ancient, soaring redwood trees. (That includes the 500-year-old, 12-foot-wide, 100-plus-foot-tall Grandmother Pfeiffer Redwood, the second-largest in all of Big Sur.) The cabins’ radiant-heat floors, cast-iron stoves, and ready-to-go s’mores make it a little too easy to hunker down instead of hike. The Big Sur Roadhouse restaurant is just steps away too, which means you can dine on grass-fed steak and stumble back to your bed instead of cooking in your (sparse albeit cute) kitchenette.
Best time to go: September and October, for Big Sur’s sunniest, warmest weather.
Why it’s cozy: Dinner delivered to your door in cast-iron pots in the eve; warm sticky buns and a thermos of coffee in the morn. Thick wool blankets, roaring fireplaces, and outdoor showers, some with private soaking tubs.
What’s out the door: The Point Reyes National Seashore. (Enough said.)
Who will love it: Low-key, solitude-seeking couples, including (once) Prince Charles and Camilla.
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. The decidedly un-resort escape is the best of both worlds—seemingly on the edge of civilization and yet still accessible, just 40 miles west of Victoria. 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. It’s the kind of place that fosters loyalty, says Sharon Soderberg, who’s owned Point No Point with her husband, Stuart, for 32 years. “We’ve watched children grow up here,” she says, “who now come back with their own.”
Best time to go: July through September for sunbathing on the beach and your best chance of spotting humpback whales; you can see orcas and gray whales year-round.
Steep Ravine Cabins, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, Mill Valley, CA
Why it’s cozy: Location, location, location. The 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.
What’s out the door: Whales, waves, sunsets—the Pacific Coast dream. Hiking through the 6,300 acres of surrounding redwood groves. San Francisco is just a 15-minute drive south.
Who will love it: Adventurous types on the ball enough to actually score a reservation. (We recommend calling seven months out—or you can sometimes score last-minute rentals via a lottery; call 415/388-2070 for details.)
9 one-bedroom cabins; $$; closed for regular maintenance Oct 1–31;hipcamp.com.
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Coast Cabins, Manzanita, OR
Why it’s cozy: Heated floors, private outdoor hot tubs, feather beds, and BBQs that double as firepits.
What’s out the door: The cutest small town on the Oregon Coast (that’d be Manzanita—sorry, Bandon!), a windswept beach, and killer sunsets. Cinematic Cannon Beach is 13 miles north.
Who will love it: Anyone who’s tired of sky-high-priced hotels on the California coast.
Why it’s cozy: Put on a record and sink into deep, pillow-like canvas chairs with a cocktail beside the big fireplace in the main lodge, designed by the team behind the Ace Hotel Portland. Stone fireplaces, private decks, Pendleton blankets.
What’s out the door: The namesake 1 1⁄2-mile-long lake. Gliding or schussing at Hoodoo Ski Area, 8 1⁄2 miles west. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or hiking on trails that start at the lodge through the nearby Deschutes National Forest.
Who will love it: Wedding parties, friends on a getaway.
Log 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. (It’s so peaceful, in fact, that at least one recent guest had to download a white noise app on his iPad.) Dunton ain’t cheap, but as one honeymooner said, “Three days with the love of my life was worth every penny.”
Best time to go: November. Rates are at their lowest, and the river water’s still warm enough for swimming.
Why it's cozy: All the wintry musts—fireplaces, pillow-top mattresses, and decks big enough for snow gear—in a compact, eco-conscious package. The cabins’ siding is reclaimed snow fencing from Interstate 80; the hardwood floors are made from Douglas fir deadwood; 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.
What's out the door: Just 6 miles from Teton Village, the fluffy-powder-filled backcountry surrounds the cabins. When you're ready to reenter civilization, free ski shuttles run twice a day.
This Rocky Mountains retreat, which opened in August 2013, provides the best of both worlds: a secluded log-cabin escape, surrounded by 100,000 acres of the Pike National Forest, and all the luxuries of a major resort. The sprawling Broadmoor resort is just down the hill, and cabin guests have access to its swimming pools, tennis courts, restaurants, and five-star spa.
10 one-, two-, and three-bedroom cabins; $$$$, including all meals; open May through Oct;broadmoor.com/ranch
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Treebones Resort, Big Sur, CA
Why it's cozy: Yurts with plush, queen-size beds piled with cozy comforters and colorful quilts, skylights for stargazing, and decks for spotting whales.
What's out the door: Big Sur. Period.
Who will love it: Young couples who want the romance of Big Sur—without the typical price tag that goes with it.
Why it's cozy: These canvas "cabins" with retro (the lanterns are cordless) lanterns, queen-size bed with pillow-top bedding and flannel duvet, s'mores fixin's for your private firepit—plus a basket of cushy towels and bath products to cart to the shower, nearby.
What's out the door: Boys zipping around by bike, girls singing along to their iPods, and small fish rising in Neva Lake, one of three on Lakedale's 82 woodsy acres. Lakedale doesn't serve lunch or dinner, but Duck Soup Inn, the best restaurant on the island, is within walking distance, and the property's general store has sandwiches.
Who will love it: Families who want to camp, without organizing logistics or pitching a tent.
Why it's cozy: Wooden walkways meander through the forest where the resort's roomy, light-filled, adults-only canvas tent suites—with king-size duvets and a complete bathroom including hydrotherapy tubs for two—perch above the blue water.
What's out the door: A quiet stretch of British Columbia's Sunshine Coast, so unspoiled and awe-inspiring, it's sometimes hard to imagine that anyone but a bald eagle or two has been here before you.
Who will love it: Couples craving a romantic camping getaway—with plush amenities.
Why it's cozy: Classic log cabins with stone fireplaces, private decks with lake and creek views, and peace and quiet; none of the cabins have phones, TVs, or alarm clocks.
What's out the door: Swimming in the 5-mile-long namesake lake, hiking the 17.5-mile path that rings the lake, and lounging on its sandy beach.
Who will love it: Families.
11 one- to four-bedroom cabins; $$; open from Memorial Day weekend through early October;redfishlake.com
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Paradise Lodge, Medford, OR
Why it's cozy: Cedar-wood walls, private porches with river or meadow views, and an on-site sauna.
What's out the door: These remote cabins are accessible only by rafting through the lower Rogue River Canyon—along one of Oregon’s Wild and Scenic protected rivers—or hiking 3.5 miles along the forested National Rogue River Trail (watch for osprey, river otters, eagles, and deer) from the town of Marial. Want to splurge? You can also jetboat or helicopter in. Once there, you’ll the rushing lower Rogue River is steps away; the famed Class IV rapid, Blossom Bar, is just a bit north of the lodge and cabins.
Who will love it: Families with teens; adrenaline-junkie couples.
Silver City Mountain Resort, Sequoia National Park, CA
Why it's cozy: Private decks overlooking Silver City Creek and mixed conifer forests, cast-iron wood-burning stoves, cozy propane lighting, and massive sequoias as neighbors.
What's out the door: Dense forests of ponderosa pine, cedar, fir, and sequoias, 14,494-foot Mount Whitney (the highest peak in the Lower 48), and more than 200 marble caverns in surrounding 404,063-acre Sequoia National Park.
Who will love it: Families willing to rough it—so long as there’s roof; several of the cabins share rustic showers and toilets.
6 cabins (sleep 1 – 6), $$, and 5 chalets (sleep 1 - 8), $$$; open Memorial Day weekend through October;silvercityresort.com
Triple Creek Ranch
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Triple Creek Ranch
Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, MT
Why it's cozy: Wood-burning fireplaces, cedar walls, whirlpool tubs, king-sized log post beds, and pine forest views from the private decks.
What's out the door: The 600-acre ranch has horseback riding, hiking, snowshoeing, tennis courts, and a heated pool; there’s also guided fly-fishing, white-water rafting, and even cattle driving on horseback in the nearby Bitterroot Mountains, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, and Salmon River.
Who will love it: Families with teens (only those 16 and older are allowed) looking for something for everyone.
Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins, Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA
Why it's cozy: New in 2011, these log cabins have private front decks and knotty-pine walls and ceilings. They’re pretty barebones (shared restrooms and showers nearby), but the central, national-park location makes up for the rusticity.
What's out the door: The volcanoes, smoking fumaroles, wildflower-strewn meadows, and mountain lakes of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Hiking trails lead right out of the campsite, and there’s swimming and fishing in pine-ringed Manzanita Lake, just a short stroll away.
Who will love it: Budget-conscious parkgoers ready to upgrade from tents.
Ultima Thule Lodge, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK
Why it's cozy: Every cabin has king-size feather beds, leather armchairs, wrought-iron stoves, and panoramic views of the Chitina River and surrounding mountains. Meals are served in the lodge, nearby, with fresh ingredients taken from the on-site organic garden and salmon and wild game caught locally. There’s an on-site cedar sauna, as well.
What's out the door: Accessible only by small plane, Utlima Thule Lodge’s cabins sit 100 miles from the nearest road, immersed in the jagged peaks, emerald valleys, and glaciers of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. At night, you can bask in the glow of the Northern Lights.
Who will love it: Bucket-list adventurers aiming to check off the ultimate Alaska experience.
Why it's cozy: Remodeled in 2009 with fir-wood floors, pine ceilings, walls of chinked lodge-pole pine, stone showers, and a big rock fireplace in every cabin. Also, no phones, TVs, or radios inside to let you truly appreciate the sounds of silence.
What's out the door: The 900-acre private backyard of the ranch grounds, surrounded by green meadows, with the jagged Sawtooth Mountains on the horizon. There are miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails and chances to fish and raft the Salmon River.
Who will love it: History buffs who want to experience the Old West come to life.
17 cabins (sleep 2 – 3); $$$; open from June – September;idahorocky.com
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Ken's Cabin, Breckenridge, CO
Why it's cozy: Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Hut Association maintains dozens of backcountry cabins across the Rocky Mountains backcountry, many of which are linked together by paths—some perfect for cross-country skiing in winter, others ideal for hiking and mountain-biking in summer. What that isolation means, of course: blissfully peaceful solitude. The huts vary, but one of our favorites, Ken’s Cabin, was built in the 1860’s as a refuge for covered-wagon travelers crossing over the Continental Divide, heading West. The rough-hewn log cabin was restored from 1992-97; it’s now listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
What's out the door: Colorado 14ers as far as the eye can see.
Who will love it: Cross-country skiers up for the challenge of gliding the 6.5 miles from the Boreas Pass Trailhead, southeast of Breckenridge, up to Ken’s, situated at 11,481 feet elevation.
One cabin (sleeps up to three); $; open only in winter;huts.org
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Alpine Lakes High Camp, Leavenworth, WA
Why it's cozy: Wood-burning stoves, warm-glowing propane wall lamps, and private decks in every cabin.
What's out the door: Hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing in the lake- and pine-laced backcountry of the North Central Cascade Mountains.
Who will love it: Parents who want to introduce their kids to the natural wonders of camping—with a roof over their heads.
Why it's cozy: Pine-ringed natural hot springs for al fresco soaking, an on-site spa, and the river-rock fireplaces, and cabins made of native cobblestone and local wood.
What's out the door: Hiking and horseback riding through aspen forests, trout fishing in scenic rivers, and swimming in nearby Doris Lake. The resort is set on the border between the Ansel Adams Wilderness and John Muir Wilderness areas—two adventurers with as expert an eye for gorgeous scenery as there ever was in the West.
Who will love it: Families looking for a low-key, High Sierra alternative to the crowds at Yosemite—and those willing to plan ahead. We recommend reserving a year in advance for the July and August high season.
4 wood-frame, canvas-walled, tent camping cabins (with shared bathrooms), $; 8 one-room cabins, $$; 2 one-bedroom cabins, $$; 6 two-bedroom cabins, $$; and 1 luxury “honeymoon” cabin, $$$; open from May 15th to Nov. 1st;monohotsprings.com
E. Spencer Toy
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E. Spencer Toy
The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, MT
Why it's cozy: Palatial, canvas-walled tents come with butler service and furnishings worthy of the Ritz: paintings hanging above king-size feather beds, surrounded by plush pile rugs; terry-cloth robes as fluffy as Big Sky Country clouds; elk-antler bedside lamps; private bathrooms with rain showers and heated floors. At suppertime, you’ll gather with fellow campers in a sweeping dining pavilion to savor gourmet creations like sautéed quail with summer black truffles; s'mores are available on demand. Guests can sign up for everything from world-class fly-fishing lessons to hot-air ballooning and when they're done, retreat to Spa Town, a tranquil outpost of tents for massages, pedicures, and aromatherapy ringing the edge of a meadow.
What's out the door: 37,000 acres of Montana wilderness, in the conifer forests of the Blackfoot Valley, including 10 miles of the Blackfoot River—of A River Runs Through It fame.
Who will love it: Adventurers with high expectations.
2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom cabins (“luxury vacation homes”) and 1- and 2-bedroom canvas-walled (“glamping”) tents; $$$$, including all meals; cabins available year-round; tents available May-October;pawsup.com
Abajo Haven Guest Cabins
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Abajo Haven Guest Cabins
Abajo Haven Guest Cabins, Blanding, UT
Why it's cozy: Simple, solar-powered log cabins, with a king bed plus two twins for family QT. Outdoor cooking areas or preordered BBQ dinners.
What's out the door: Ancestral Puebloan archeology sites, thousands of miles of trails for hiking, horseback (BYO), and ATV (you can get one delivered to your front door), plus Mesa Verde National Park and Natural Bridges National Monument, an “International Dark Sky Park.”
Who will love it: Adventurous souls and starstruck Europeans.
Why it's cozy: Despite their age difference—the 35 cabins, including a LEED-certified bungalow, were built between 1950 and 2000—all have plush beds and iPod docking stations, with a mix of woodstoves and gas fireplaces.
What's out the door: Your own trout-filled lake, 19 miles of cross-country trails, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, and the aptly-named Lakefront Restaurant, with wall-length windows and seasonal food.
Who will love it: Anglers, trail-runners, and urbanites craving a dose of fresh air.
Why it's cozy: Eco peace of mind: The luxe cabins were built out of local timber milled on-site in a solar-powered woodshop, each with a woodstove, outdoor hot tub, full kitchen, and (refreshingly) no TV.
What's out the door: A thick grove of pine and fir trees at the junction of the Cascade Range and Siskiyou Mountains, where you can hike through forests and raft the raging Upper Klamath River.
Who will love it: Environmentally conscious adventurers.
What's out the door: Fishing, horseback riding, hunting, yoga—you name it on the 30,000-acre ranch near the North Platte River Valley, with the million-acre Medicine Bow National Forest next door.
Who will love it: Newlyweds and families who decidedly don’t want to rough it.
9 two- and three- bedroom cabins, plus cabin rooms and lodge rooms, $$$$; open from mid-May through mid-Oct;brushcreekranch.com
Metolius River Resort
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Metolius River Resort
Metolius River Resort, Camp Sherman, OR
Around the start of November, the tourist traffic dissipates—and the deer, elk, and hawks venture closer to the Metolius River Resort. “You can sit in front of a toasty fire and watch the wildlife and the river right from your cabin,” says manager Evan Vance. The 11 log cabins here have stone fireplaces, full kitchens, twin Adirondack chairs on private porches, and easy entrée to world-class fly-fishing. From $180; 2-night min.; metoliusriverresort.com.
Rock Reach House
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Rock Reach House
Rock Reach House, Yucca Valley, CA
If Don Draper decamped to the desert, this is where he would go: Rock Reach House, a steel-frame, solar-powered cabin with mid-century modern furniture. Sliding glass doors let in the bright desert light and the sharp, fresh smell of juniper and pine. Temperature permitting, you can inulge in day hikes in nearby Joshua Tree National Park and evening soaks in the outdoor hot tub. From $299 (rented via Airbnb or VBRO); 2-night min.; rockreachhouse.com.
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View Crest Lodge, Trinidad, CA
With its ancient redwoods, free-roaming elk, and undeveloped beaches, Humboldt County can feel like the land that time forgot. “But this is more like a hotel experience, with daily housekeeping and Wi-Fi,” says lodge owner Brady Burtchett. All cabins here have kitchenettes and big sundecks, and redwoods and tidepools are just a half-mile away at Patrick’s Point State Park. From $95; viewcrestlodge.com.
Iron Springs Resort
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Iron Springs Resort
Iron Springs Resort, Copalis Beach, WA
In November, dramatic, surf-pounding storms begin pummeling the Washington Coast, and the 26 cabins at Iron Springs become front-row seats to the show. Overstuffed armchairs ring floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the ocean, and stone fireplaces and fully equipped kitchens ensure that guests stay cozy. Despite the rain, most days are still nice enough for wandering the trails, digging for Pacific razor clams, and building bonfires on the beach—with complimentary firewood. From $179; 2-night min.; ironspringsresort.com.
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West Point Inn, Mill Valley, CA
Five rugged cabins, built on the upper slope of Mt. Tamalpais in 1904, offer vistas of the Marin Headlands, Pacific Ocean, and Golden Gate Bridge. The price tag? Fifty bucks a person. The hike-in-accessible structures are simple, with cold-water sinks
inside and toilets and showers outside, but really, it’s all about the view. “You look down into Sausalito and across to San Francisco,” says Fran Rondeau, president of the nonprofit collective that maintains the property. “The city actually sparkles. It’s breathtaking.” From $50/person; westpointinn.com.
Courtesy of the homeowner
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Courtesy of the homeowner
Big Thompson Pool Cabin, Estes Park, CO
The private, heated swimming pool, sauna, and access to Rocky Mountain National Park make this four-bedroom, ranch-style cabin ideal for group getaways. The kids can fish in a nearby trout stream or splash around the twelve-foot deep pool while the adults shoot billiards in the finished basement or lounge in the seven-person hot tub. The living room has a large fireplace and flat-screen TV for family movie nights, and the dine-in kitchen is big enough to cook a family feast in. From $450 (rented via VRBO); http://www.bigthompsonpoolcabin.com.