Cabins are all about relaxing, reconnecting, and repairing the soul. Here are the most extraordinary cabins around the West that will keep you coming back, time and again.
5 glorious acres all to yourself
Far Meadow, Sierra National Forest, CA
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 fierce 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: a new A-frame was added this season alongside a log cabin, two outfitted trailers, and another 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. 3-night min.; far-meadow.com.
Not the Four Seasons--in a good way
Rimrock Ranch Cabins, Pioneertown, CA
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. rimrockranchcabins.com.
For outdoorsy types
Pioneer Guest Cabins, Crested Butte, CO
Why it's cozy: Buckets of chopped wood, riverside hammocks, and kitchenettes.
What's out the door: Hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing along creeks and through meadows ringed by Douglas fir.
Who will love it: Outdoorsy types who prefer fall leaves and fresh snow to Frette sheets. 8 two- and three-bedroom cabins; pioneerguestcabins.com.
Glen Oaks Big Sur, Big Sur, CA
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. glenoaksbigsur.com.
Sedona's red rock canyons just beyond
Briar Patch Inn, Sedona, AZ
Why it's cozy: Wood-burning fireplaces, open-air massages, decks overlooking fields of grazing sheep, violin players serenading you over summer pancakes at breakfast.
What's out the door: Creeks for dipping, softly lit paths for après-supper strolling, and Sedona's famed red rock canyons just beyond.
Who will love it: Couples seeking affordable romance. 19 one-, two-, and four-bedroom cabins; briarpatchinn.com.
Perched on the edge of the world
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; reserveamerica.com.
Like a luxe log-cabin home of your own
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, MT
Why it's cozy: It's like a luxe log-cabin home of your own, with hot tubs on the deck, stone fireplaces, and leather seemingly everywhere.
What's out the door: Snowmobiling, ice-skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and moose, wolves, and elk--guided walking safaris are on the agenda.
Who will love it: Big families looking for an upscale reunion locale.
8 one- to five-bedroom cabins; theranchatrockcreek.com.
The romance of Big Sur—without the typical price tag
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.
16 yurts (sleep 2); treebonesresort.com.
Classic log cabins with stone fireplaces
Redfish Lake Lodge, Stanley, ID
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.
Pine forest views from the private decks
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.
17 one-bedroom, 5 two-bedroom, and 1 three-bedroom cabins; triplecreekranch.com.
Accessible only by small plane
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.
5 two-bedroom cabins; including all meals; three-night minimum; ultimathulelodge.com.
Private decks in every cabin
Scottish 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.
9 cabins (sleep 1 - 10); closed May, June, July, and in late October and early November; scottishlakes.com.
Get an ATV delivered to your door
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.
4 one-bedroom cabins; abajohaven.com.
Eco peace of mind
Green Springs Inn & Cabins, near Ashland, OR
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.
5 cabins (sleep 1 - 8); greenspringsinn.com.
For when you don't want to rough it
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, WY
Why it's cozy: Leather couches, potbelly stoves, 400-thread-count sheets, plush robes, and grocery-stocking services.
What's out the door: Fishing, horseback riding, hunting, yoga--you name it on the 15,000-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 daily from mid-May through mid-Oct and for long weekends year-round; brushcreekranch.com.
Looking for something a little less rustic? Here are some of our favorite hotels for people who love both the outdoors and a bit of pampering. Or you could try one of our 10 favorite B&Bs in the west, as well as one of our favorite romantic getaway spots.
On the other hand, if you think cabins are a bit too cushy, check out our list of favorite campgrounds.