The clouds part and the sun goes down on our last evening at the Clearwater Big House. A Forest Service rental in Umatilla National Forest, Washington. March, 2014.

If you haven’t already heard of the Pacific Northwest forest service rental program, you are missing out. Big time. In Oregon and Washington alone, there are over 70 rustic cabins and high-flying fire lookout towers (once used by Oregon’s “smoke chasers” to moniter wild fires) available to rent, year-round. It’s a step down from glamping: No running water, linens, or food, but a huge step up from traditional camping: a wood burning furnace (!), mattress, electricity (sometimes), and the best views in Oregon from your bedside window.

Terry Musgrove and his intrepid canine partner, Yogi, are on a quest to visit them all. Since 2005, Musgrove and Yogi have documented 37 wilderness A-frames from all corners of the Northwest. Musgrove’s Flickr page is inspiring, hilarious (think cat videos for outdoorsy dog lovers), and a great resource for those in search of the perfect cabin or lookout tower.

Click on the slideshow above for a glimpse at Musgrove and Yogi’s past itinerary, and check below for a list of their top 5 rentals.

How Yogi Got Up To Pickett Lookout from Terry Musgrove on Vimeo.

Musgrove and Yogi’s Top 5 Cabins and Lookouts

1. "The Peavy Cabin near Granite, Oregon is definitely my all time favorite. I tend to gravitate towards the more remote rentals and Peavy is certainly way out there. This one-room log cabin has a real rustic feel to it. It has a wood stove and fireplace for heat, propane for lights, cooking and refrigeration. Plus it has a working sink that many other remote cabins or lookouts don't have."

2. "The Clearwater Big House near Pomeroy, Washington has become my favorite winter rental. The bad news is that it's a 6 mile snowshoe, ski or snowmobile trip to get to it. But the good news is most of the journey is on a groomed snow trail and the 2 story cabin can accommodate 10 people, which would make for a nice group adventure. Also, it always seems to be available. Very few people rent the Big House in winter."

Clearwater Big House, Washington from Terry Musgrove on Vimeo.

3. "Acker Rock Lookout near Tiller, Oregon. There's a short uphill walk to get to it but the view and accommodations are worth it."

4. "Bolan Mountain Lookout Station near Cave Junction, Oregon. There are few amenities. In fact, it's just a shell of a structure. But the location will give visitors the feeling of sitting on top of the world. The lookout is surrounded by mountains but you can still see the Oregon coast. Sunsets and sunrises are very impressive here if the weather cooperates. Also, it's accessible by automobile."

5. "The Tucannon Guard Station near Dayton, Washington. This historic structure was built in 1909 and has all the comforts of home: electricity, propane heat, hot and cold running water, plus an indoor bathroom with bathtub and shower. The bad news is that the rental fee is $100 a night, but the good news is that it sleeps at least 7 people, making it a good group rental. Also, the road to this guard station is plowed in winter."

 

Musgrove and Yogi on Flickr 

PNW Forest Service Rental

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