Thursday, August 4, 2011

Forest Service Cabin Rental

Not a lot of people know about it, but the Forest Service rents out some of its backcountry cabins and fire lookouts.  The Gordon Reese cabin, which is the one the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club uses as a warming hut in the winter, rents for only $35 a night, plus a $9 reservation fee.  A few weeks ago I reserved it for one night for me and Mari, but then it turned out Mari couldn't go because she needed to take her father to a doctor's appointment.  I tried to cancel the reservation, but even though I gave them six days notice, the Forest Service told me if I cancelled, I'd still be liable for the full rental amount plus a $10 cancellation fee.  I'm sure that made sense to somebody in the government.

A lot of you know that if I have to pay for something, then I'm by-god gonna use it, so I went up and spent a night in the cabin alone, and resolved to make it a writing retreat.  (I know I already have a writing retreat cabin, but this was a matter of principle.)  So I took my outline and parts of the draft and a bunch of my journals and crammed them into my backpack with my sleeping bag and a few other supplies.  I didn't really take much else because the cabin is about a half-mile hike from the parking area.

The Gordon Reese Cabin is in the Wisdom Ranger District of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.  That sounds a lot more impressive than it really is.

The main level.  There was plenty of wood for the stove, but it wasn't cold enough for a fire inside.

The sleeping area upstairs.  It supposedly sleeps 8, but only if they're all small.

The deck.

 The view from the deck.  The cleared lane is one of the ski runs.

 View of the cabin from out back.

Afternoon mountain showers coming in.  That's a fire ring between the benches.  It would be good if you had a group and wanted to sit around and sing campfire songs.  Or not.

I moved one of the interior seat cushions to the deck, along with a small bench for a footrest/table.  Don't anybody tell the government or they'll charge me a $10 relocation fee.

Storms getting closer.

Pine siskin ain't scared.

Tiny bit of rainbow.

Golden-mantled ground squirrels are often mistaken for chipmunks, but all chipmunks have stripes on their faces.

Through the deck railing.


Red crossbill at the parking area.

The cabin and lookout rentals are listed by national forest, so it helps to know where you want to go.  Our first choice was a fire lookout in the Bitterroot National Forest, but it was booked when we wanted it, so the Gordon Reese was a good second choice.  When I was looking for it I went to Google and searched for "Beaverhead National Forest cabin rental."  


  1. I've always thought of renting one and using it for a writing retreat. How'd it work out for you?

  2. It worked well, especially the no cell signal or internet connection. I was a little limited, though. I knew I was there for only one night, so I didn't really try to get settled in.

  3. It looks like it was really nice.