Plan an unconventional getaway. Sure, jacuzzis, continental breakfast, and room service are nice, but watching the Milky Way slowly turn its way down the window and waking up to utter silence occupies an entirely different league.
Old fire lookouts, cozy backcountry cabins and yurts, and small mountain resorts are peppered across the hardest to reach places—half the fun is setting out to find them. In most cases, weathered walls harken back to a different era altogether, and usually the flatware matches. There’s absolutely no tastier way to have morning coffee than out of the old enamel percolator that occupies almost every wilderness kitchen.
In the winter, these places become exceptionally coveted. The ones offering the most spectacular views are either first-come, first-served or operate on a reservation system. In both cases the early bird gets the worm: Only those willing to get an alpine start can lay claim to a prize like Devil’s Peak Lookout, while the calendar fills up soon after annual booking begins for places like the Tilly Jane A-Frame. In almost every last case, the payoff is well worth the effort.
Below you’ll find a less-than comprehensive list of the West Coast’s cozy cabins and lodges. Be sure to check availability and conditions before you go; sadly some have had to cease operations due to lack of funding or vandalism. As always, ensuring your party leaves no trace enables these magical places to remain in use for winters to come.
Journeyman Lodge, Squamish-Lillooet Area. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Adam Cowcill.
Sun Mountain Lodge during the winter months. Photo by Outdoor Project Co-Founder Tyson Gillard.
Honeymoon Cabin at Alta Crystal Resort. Photo by Outdoor Project Co-Founder Tyson Gillard.
Barlow Butte Hut, Mount Hood. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Jackie Arnal.
Gold Butte Lookout, Metolious River. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Daniel Sherman.
Pickett Butte Fire Lookout, Umpqua Wilderness. Photo by Outdoor Project Team Member Kat Dierickx.
Clair Tappaan Lodge, Lake Tahoe. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor John Cody.
Pearl Lake Ski Hut, Southern Sierra. Photo by Outdoor Project Team Member Aron Bosworth.
El Capitan Canyon Nature Ranch, Santa Barbara. Photo by Outdoor Project Team Member Aron Bosworth.
Mesa Lakes Lodge, Grand Mesa. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Denis LeBlanc.
Butler Lodge, Northern Green Mountains. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Eric Adsit.