Montana’s Public Use Cabins, part 1

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Lots of people I know in Montana have a cabin, or their parents have a cabin, or their aunts, uncles, grandparents, best friends, third grade elementary teachers have a cabin. And all the rest of the people I know in Montana dream of having a cabin.

Of course Greg and I dream of having our own in the woods someday, with or without electricity and/or running water (though no electricity would make it decidedly harder to blog). Lady Campfire would insist on a wood burning stove, while Lord Campfire would demand a sauna. I would do the daily indoor tidying while Greg would maintain the outdoor chores, and after breakfast every morning, after the dishes and laundry were done and the firewood chopped, we would hike or snowshoe or ski or climb until dark when we would retreat to said cabin, start our wood fire and sauna, eat a hearty meal, play a game of farkel, sit in the sauna and talk about how great life is, then go to bed to start again the next day. That, or we’d sit on our front porch and read and journal and drink tea and listen to birds and still talk about how great life is. We just really want a cabin. But, Gregory and I don’t believe in debt, so we wouldn’t buy a cabin until we could afford to pay cash for it. Although we’re saving every dollar we make that doesn’t go into everyday living and retirement, we still like to have our big trips in the meantime so a cabin could be a ways away. Until then, we’ll keep renting public use cabins and pretending they’re ours.

Montana has 113 public use cabins that rent for $20-65/night depending on size, location, amenities, etc. Some you can drive to, others require a hike, snowshoe/ski, or snowmobile/ATV in. Some have propane for heat, some have wood stoves, some have water pumps and some require you pack in your own water. You can find a list of them, as well as lists for other states, on the website. This is cheap vacationing at its best! We love our backpacking in summer, but for winter sports we love having a warm cabin to go back to. They’re great for hiking into, as they’re generally well stocked with cookware and utensils, and anything else other savvy cabiners have left behind like toilet paper, paper towels, spices, candles. Just don’t depend on it. Oh, and did I mention all these cabins have outhouses? So let me rephrase my previous statement: This is glorified camping at its best!

West Fork Cabin. Choteau, Montana.


To be continued…


4 thoughts on “Montana’s Public Use Cabins, part 1

  1. Love that you guys are exploring public use cabins! Each year we usually get a forest service cabin in the North Fork (of the Flathead) with a group of folks just skiing/snowshoeing out the front door. We’ve also stayed in a vacation rental in the Seeley/Swan area…couldn’t find any public use cabins there, but there were some less expensive vacation home rentals. What a cheap/fun way to adventure. Love your jump shot fails by the way.

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