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Rental Cabins: 10 Places to Try Before You Buy

Nothing beats spending a few nights or weeks in a cabin to determine what you like or don’t like about various construction options. Check out these great rental cabins for a taste of the cabin experience.
by Diana Lambdin-Meyer, Sara Brown and Leah Kerkman

Eagles Ridge
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Features: A quiet afternoon sipping iced tea in the front-porch swing of your log cabin is a dream come true in this planned development surrounded by the magnificent Smoky Mountains. With nearly 200 cabins, you have a number of floor plans to choose from and may include anywhere from one to nine bedrooms. Most of the cabins use D-shaped logs, meaning the inside is flat and the outside is rounded, most of which are 8 to 12 inches in diameter. Many of the cabins have game rooms with billiard tables, most have big-screen TVs, and every rental has access to the pool and community room. A few cabins also include outdoor fireplaces and hot tubs for a perfect ending to an ideal day in a log home.
Contact: 800-807-4343;


Destinations West
Grand County, Colorado

Features: Grand County is located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park and includes the charming communities of Winter Park, Granby and Grand Lake, all offering alpine and cross-country skiing in the winter and innumerable activities in the summer. Destinations West offers luxury rentals in these locations, including about 15 log homes and distinct cabins. Some are lakefront properties and include docks, while others are remote cabins with expansive views of meadows and mountains. If you have children, they will love climbing the ladder up to the reading nook in the four-bedroom Ridge Top Cabin and turning it into a clubhouse. If you have pets, they are welcome at the three-bedroom Luna Log Home.
Contact: 800-545-9378;


The Cotton Gin Village
Fredericksburg, Texas

Features: The seven cabins here are the real deal. Relocated from various parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, these former family homes date to the late 1800s and are made from hand-hewn logs indigenous to the region. Two have loft bedrooms and all have spacious porches. Situated around a lovely garden and pond, the cabins now have modern amenities, such as hot tubs, wood-burning stone fireplaces and flat-screen TVs, without losing the ambience of the original log structure. The kitchens are entirely functioning, but you’ll want to dine at the adjacent Cabernet Grill at least once during your stay. The restaurant offers an exceptional menu featuring fresh beef, seafood, wild game and other ranch fare as well as an extensive Texas wine list, which you’ll enjoy in the rustic, antique-filled dining room, warmed by a massive wood-burning fireplace.
Contact: 830-990-5734;


Boyne Mountain
Boyne Falls, Michigan

Features: If you think of Michigan as a mittened hand, the Boyne Mountain resort area sits at the tip of the ring finger. Busiest in the winter as a skiing destination, the resort also includes a golf course, as well as a spa and indoor water park, to make it a year-round getaway. All of the cedar-log residences, found on the northwest side of the mountain, feature three levels with three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths and wood-burning fireplaces. The master suite in each home is an enclosed loft, creating a 24-foot peaked ceiling on the main level and featuring one wall filled with triangular windows and French doors that open onto a deck overlooking the ski slopes.
Contact: 800-462-6963;


Heartland Elk Guest Ranch
Valentine, Nebraska

Features: Valentine is located in the northern part of Nebraska along the Niobrara River, an extremely popular river for canoeing and tubing. The Heartland Elk Guest Ranch is a working cattle and elk ranch as well as a fully equipped river outfitter, and features four cabins with three different floor plans. The Loft cabin, with two private bedrooms and a loft, can sleep up to 10 guests. The Evergreen and Spruce cabins both sleep up to six adults, with two private bedrooms and a sleeper sofa in each house. The three-story Stone House cabin sleeps up to 14 in four bedrooms with two full baths. Porches, of course, help define a log home experience, and all of these cabins have spacious front porches as well as patios in the back. The kitchens have everything you’ll need, but you can also choose to cook al fresco via the outdoor grill provided for each cabin. And don’t let your preconceived notions about Nebraska’s landscape deceive you; unless you’ve traveled in this part of the state, you won’t know it to be as wooded and beautiful as it is.
Contact: 402-376-1124;


Great Wolf Lodge
Locations in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Virginia

Features: No need to worry about the weather at this chain of indoor recreation centers made for families with active kids. There’s everything here to keep them busy: In addition to the four-story indoor water park, there’s a 100-game video arcade and restaurants (with fun names like Camp Critter Buffet and Loose Moose Bar & Grill). Parents will enjoy the fitness area and Aveda-brand spa treatments, while the kids will love the “loggy” rooms, with names like the Royal Bear Suite and Wolf Den Suite. With family-style accommodations at reasonable rates, you can afford to take the whole pack.
Contact: 800-559-9653;


Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Orlando, Florida

Features: Proving log construction has gone mainstream, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the most popular of all the hotels in the Magic Kingdom. This 729-room deluxe hotel in the Walt Disney World Resort was built using heavy timbers and includes both natural and Native American design elements. (You actually can take a “Wonders of the Lodge” tour to discover how it was constructed.) Amenities include a white-sand beach and swimming pool (complete with its own geyser); campfire sing-a-longs; an arcade; a health center; and a playground that’s open 24 hours a day. Plus, you’re just minutes away from Epcot Center, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom.
Contact: 407-939-6244;


Gobblers Ridge Lodge
Linn, West Virginia

Features: Gobblers Ridge Lodge, a 3,600-square-foot home featuring 12-inch, D-shaped eastern white pine logs, sits in the Mountain Lakes region of the Appalachians. Accommodating up to four people, the spacious suite at the B & B includes a living room, kitchen, bedroom and private bath. Once you’ve had your hearty breakfast, a bevy of activities awaits you. You can hike on the property’s trails or venture to one of the three lakes nearby. If R & R is high on your agenda, you’re in luck: Take a soak in the private hot tub or enjoy the lodge’s 1,500 square feet of decks, porches and patios overlooking the gorgeous scenery. The innkeepers also run a woodworking shop and sell a homemade barbecue sauce in the lodge’s gift shop, where you can find handmade soaps and sundries, handcrafted fishing lures and pottery, all created by local artisans.
Contact: 304-462-4294;


Bed & Buggy Inn
Saint George, Kansas

Features: Looking to escape for a weekend? Slow down at the Bed & Buggy Inn, a log bed & breakfast located in America’s heartland. The one-and-a-half level inn, located in the northern part of the beautiful Flint Hills, is 2,380 square feet and constructed from southern yellow pine logs. Make a reservation and you’ll have the option of choosing from two guest rooms (the Loft and the Western), each with its own spacious bathroom and cozy beds. You can even bring your pets along for the trip, where they’ll rest comfortably in the onsite outdoor kennels. Evening snacks are available to all guests and a home-cooked hearty breakfast is served up every morning, providing plenty of energy before heading out to explore the area’s sights: Take a campus tour at nearby Kansas State University, visit the capital city of Topeka, or stick close to home and explore the inn’s 320-acre ranch on foot or horseback.
Contact: 785-494-8232;


Sandy Salmon Bed & Breakfast Lodge
Sandy, Oregon

Features: A stay at this charming log bed & breakfast will satiate your dream-cabin desires while you’re saving up for a cabin of your own. The B & B, nestled in the Mount Hood area of Oregon, is crafted of lodgepole pine logs. Stocked with koi and goldfish, an indoor pond and waterfall greet visitors in the entryway, while an enormous elk antler chandelier holds court in the two-story space above. With four guest rooms (all with private baths and most with outdoor access) decorated with rustic furnishings, you might be content to spend your entire vacation indoors. But eventually, the jaw-dropping scenery of the locale will draw you out. After feasting on a mouth-watering breakfasts (chicken Divan crepes and stuffed banana French toast are a specialty), venture to the surrounding areas for a variety of activities: Ski on Mount Hood, hike the Barlow Trail Road (the last leg of the Oregon Trail), raft or kayak the Sandy River, or fish the plentiful ponds and rivers nearby.
Contact: 503-622-6699;

Published in Country's Best Cabins
Comment Feed

3 Responses

  1. I have always wanted a second home — a cabin in the mountains – and made that fact clear to my husband. When he realized I would not be dissuaded, I picked a spot that met all my criteria (2 hours from home, 30 degrees cooler, lots of fishing lakes and streams [for my husband. I'm no fool] and called a realtor. My husband was not ready to commit so he (reasonably) suggested we lease a place. It just so happened that a family was relocating out of state and we ended up leasing their 1960 vintage cabin in the area. We loved the area and were in a good position to keep an eye on the market. After 1.5 years, we knew what we liked and knew what we didn’t like and when our realtor mentioned a lot was coming available, we were in a position to snap it up. If all goes well, we will be in our own place for Christmas. This try before you buy concept is the way to go.

    K. EversMarch 25, 2012 @ 3:15 pmReply
  2. Great story! Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely try out a few places before I buy.

  3. Um, Great Wolf Lodge and Disney? Really?

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