A cabin isn’t just a quiet place to escape, it’s a state of mind. Close the door behind you and almost instantly you breathe more deeply, your pulse slows, and your sense of adventure is awakened.
Cabins come in all shapes and sizes—cozy and rustic, plush and jaw-droppingly stunning—but are always set amid a landscape that makes you want to hike, climb, and explore. These places, some of the country’s best, encourage outdoor exploits but also make the perfect base camp for cool fall nights.
Arranged in a small cluster along the Methow River, these designer one-room cabins (from $135/night) look out on the ponderosa-studded North Cascades. All have woodstoves and wi-fi, as well as stylishly understated interiors featuring wilderness materials. “Rolling Huts” is a playful reference to the site’s trailer-park zoning (hence the wheels on each cabin). The riverside plot is the perfect home base for fishing, biking, climbing, rafting, and skiing the Methow Valley wilderness.
Remoteness: The Methow Valley is a 3.5-hour drive from Spokane.
Book It: For warmer weather. In winter, when people flock to the area's world-class Nordic ski trails, they're tougher to book. rollinghuts.com
A late-1800s Rocky Mountain mining town that by 1918 had become a crumbling ghost town, Dunton was restored in the 1990s and converted into a stunning mountain retreat. Today, 13 luxurious cabins (from $600/night) dot the picture-perfect 187-acre property surrounded by southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, where biking, hiking, fly-fishing, rafting, kayaking—and, come winter, heli-skiing—adventures await. After a day out, enjoy a chef-prepped meal and soak in natural hot springs.
Remoteness: Dunton is located 30 miles from Telluride—the last 11 of which are over rugged dirt roads.
Book It: Whenever. If you’ve got the cash, most likely they’ve got a room. duntonhotsprings.com
Candlewood Cabins has intimate one-room cabins with 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on Wisconsin’s woodsy Ocooch Mountains (from $115/night). Commune with nature on the Wisconsin River, with its good trout fishing and lazy-river paddling, or enjoy some of the area’s more urbane pleasures, like the bright lights and brewpubs of nearby Madison.
Remoteness: The Glass House is an easy 90-minute drive from Madison’s Dane County Regional Airport.
Book It: Cross your fingers for a last-minute cancellation or put your name down for next summer. Or ask about the new Meadow House cabin, which offers a similar experience but is still a bit of a secret. candlewoodcabins.com
Everyone knows the Grand Canyon is big, but its true size is impossible to grasp till you’re at its bottom. Phantom Ranch, set in a cottonwood grove near the Colorado River, is 4,500 feet below the canyon’s touristy rim. The rustic cabins (from $135/night), stocked and serviced by mule train, make a great base camp for day hikes fueled by hearty family-style meals of steak and stew.
REMOTENESS: Once you hit the ranch’s South Rim, it’s still a half-day hike down steep canyon trails—and the return trip is even longer.
BOOK IT: Way ahead. Getting a reservation is almost as hard as the hike out, and the more people, the trickier. grandcanyonlodges.com
The Big Sur Cabin at Glen Oaks is everything you want in a Central Coast hideout. Tucked into a redwood grove next to the Big Sur River, it feels intimate, upscale, rustic, remote, and—with 240,000 acres of hot-spring- and waterfall-studded Ventana Wilderness—accessible all at the same time. But the real clincher is the cabin’s small courtyard, where you and your partner can soak sore muscles in a pair of fireside claw-foot tubs. ($450/night)
REMOTENESS: Glen Oaks is a two-hour drive from the San Jose Airport and less than three from SFO.
BOOK IT: It’s popular, so for high season book way ahead for two or more consecutive nights. glenoaksbigsur.com
For the best waterfront lodging deal in all of the Florida Keys, head to Bahia Honda State Park, where a handful of basic cabins that sleep up to six people rent for just $160 per night ($120 off-season). The simple accommodations—no TV, no wi-fi, and no phones—take a backseat to the incredible nature surrounding them on the 524-acre island refuge. Hiking trails, white-sand beaches, and swimmable coral reefs are all on your doorstep.
REMOTENESS: Bahia Honda is a 50-minute drive up from Key West International Airport.
BOOK IT: Pray for cancellations or stalk the reservation website for next year’s stay in paradise. floridastateparks.org
For more than a century, the Appalachian Mountain Club has maintained a European-style alpine hut system in New Hampshire’s rugged White Mountains. At 5,050 feet, this is the highest, with one of the best front-porch views this side of the Mississippi. The coed dorms (from $127/night) are pretty basic but come with delicious, stick-to-your-ribs meals to fuel challenging above-tree-line hikes to the surrounding Presidential peaks.
REMOTENESS: It’s a strenuous three- to four-hour hike to reach Lakes of the Clouds, ascending a minimum of 2,500 feet.
BOOK IT: Two months in advance. Most dates are snatched up at least that early. outdoors.org
Set in the 13-million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, these fly-in luxury cabins look out over the braided Chitina River and beyond to wild, unnamed mountains. Owner/bush pilot Paul Claus turns one of the world’s largest protected wilderness areas into your personal playground by dropping you off daily for remote hikes, glacier walks, fly-fishing, climbing, or rafting. At night, chow down on grub that’s been locally grown, fished, or hunted. (From $7,700/ person for four nights, all-inclusive)
REMOTENESS: Ultima is 100-plus miles from the nearest road, so access is by bush plane only.
BOOK IT: At least four months ahead, as just 12 guests can stay at a time. ultimathulelodge.com