Camping Cabins: A Great Alternative to Motels & Tents

camping cabins

Camping cabins can be a great alternative when traveling or for a camping trip—even if your family already has a tent or pop-up camper like we do.

The idea behind a camping cabin is: you have four solid walls and a roof, and bunks to sleep on. You don’t have to set up a tent or pull an RV. You bring your own sleeping bags, cooking gear, etc. as if you’re tent camping.

Common Amenities in Camping Cabins

At its most basic, a camping cabin is just what was described above: four walls, a roof and bunks. A solid shelter for sleeping.

  • Many cabins offer more, though. These are all possibilities:
  • Some kind of front porch for a sitting area. One of ours had a porch swing.
  • Picnic table and/or charcoal grill.
  • Two rooms instead of just one, sleeping up to 6 people.
  • Electricity
  • Heat
  • Even an indoor bathroom (although fairly rare)

So, when should you use them and where can you find them?

Advantages of a Camping Cabin

CONVENIENCE. How easy is it to pull up to your little cabin, roll out your sleeping bags and you’re ready for the night? For those used to setting up a tent or pop-up camper, no matter how quick and easy, there’s no set up with a cabin.

WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A TENT OR RV, or don’t want to use it. if you want to stay in a campground but don’t have a tent or RV, you still get the benefits of a campground stay. Or, as we’ve done a few times, we have the gear but don’t want to bring it or use it for some reason.

One of our cabin occasions was in the middle of a week-long stay at the Tetons and Yellowstone. We left our pop-up camper in our campsite in the Tetons while we drove into Yellowstone for a couple days. We stayed at a KOA camping cabin that night on the north side of Yellowstone so we didn’t have to drive all the way back to our camper.

camping cabin koa montana
Our lovely 2-room rustic cabin on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Montana

CHEAPER than a motel, hotel, Air B&B. I’ve seen prices from $55 a night to $150 a night. $150 may not seem like a deal unless compared with the local motel prices—the summer we paid that much for our little rustic cabin was the summer we couldn’t find a motel room in the area for under $450! (that was near Yellowstone!)

LUXURIOUS WINTER CAMPING. If you’re like me and love winter but have no desire to camp in a tent in the snow, a year-round camping cabin is the perfect solution! Usually these will be in a state or local park, and will be rustic—maybe not even electricity. But if it has heat, we’re good!

Disadvantages of a Camping Cabin

MORE COSTLY THAN A CAMPSITE. If you’re used to paying a $20 tent fee, $55 and up sounds like a lot. So cost is relative.

YOU NEED YOUR OWN BEDDING. All you get in camping cabins is a mattress, so you’ll want your own sheets/blankets or sleeping bags. This may or may not be an issue depending on how tightly your car is packed!

LIMITED NUMBER. While a campground might have 200 tent and RV campsites, it may only have 2-4 camping cabins. So planning ahead is more important. If you’re flexible with using them during the week rather than weekends you’ll have a lot more options.

camping cabin wyoming
Our camping cabin in Sundance, Wyoming—one of just two in this private campground

Where You’ll Find Camping Cabins

PRIVATE CAMPGROUNDS. The two times our family has used a camping cabin have both been in a private campground. In these cases you have the amenities of the campground right there—showers, indoor bathrooms, gift shop, maybe laundry facilities.

If you’re a camper, you know about KOAs. Almost all KOAs have a few camping cabins. It’s almost like staying in a small village, so you miss out on some of the privacy and quietness, but have many conveniences.

Chances are you won’t find year-round cabins in private campgrounds in northern climates. Campgrounds close through the winter months up here. But in the south, winter is probably a better time—fewer bugs and cooler. Maybe fewer snakes and gators, too 🙂

STATE AND LOCAL PARKS. These will definitely be on the more rustic side, but you have the advantage of a beautiful and more natural location. Less busy, less commotion. Some of these will be open year-round.

You’ll more than likely use the same outhouse and/or shower house (if there is one) as the tent campers.

Camping Cabin’s First Cousin—the Yurt

Yurts have become more common in the past few years, too. Of Mongolian nomad heritage, yurts are to ethnic Mongolians what teepees were to many ethnic Native American plains tribes.

yurt afton state park mn
This yurt is in Afton State Park, Minnesota

Prices and amenities are similar to camping cabins.

Just do an online search for yurts in your state or local area and you’re bound to come up with something.

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