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Have you the entered the exciting world of winter camping yet? Wait, wait, hear me out. What if I told you that winter camping could mean that you wouldn’t have to sleep on the ground or even in the cold? That you wouldn’t even need to bring a tent?
Then you might consider giving it a go, yes?
I love camping, and every winter I long for the camping season when I can spend days and days outside exploring, cooking up campfire grub, and watching the stars come out. Winter tends to cramp my style, but a few years ago, our family discovered cabin camping, and we haven’t looked back.
What is Cabin Camping?
Well, I guess that depends on where you go, but in general terms, cabin camping is when you make use of a shelter instead of a tent to either keep you warm in cold temperatures or make you more comfortable anytime. Similar to glamping, but more rustic. When you stay in a camping cabin, you still have to pack your sleeping bags, camp food, and headlamps, but your home base has the comfort and warmth of four walls, and usually a wood stove.
Camping in a camping cabin is perfect for families who are new to camping and aren’t ready to invest in lots of equipment. It’s like transitional camping, and if you’re used to squeezing into a frosty, two-person tent to sleep, cabin camping can be downright luxurious. You don’t need any special skills to camp in a cabin. Just a love for your family and the amazing natural world that we all live in. Let’s do it!
Awesome New England Cabin Rentals for Winter Camping
Camping cabins are available for rent all over the world, but I’m going to focus on camping cabin rentals in New England (USA) because it’s the region I know the best. These are our favorite camping cabins throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut. (Never camped in Rhode Island, sorry!)
Merck Forest and Farmland Center, Rupert, Vermont
Merck Forest and Farmland Center is our absolute favorite place to go camping in the winter and spring. Seriously. This awesome nonprofit maintains seven beautiful Vermont cabin rentals on more than 3,000 acres of wilderness. Each camping cabin is unique and lovely in it’s own way. They sleep between two and fifteen people, and chopped and split firewood will be waiting for you when you get to your cabin. Each cabin is nestled in its own little paradise. Some are easy to get to, requiring just a quick walk from the visitor center with your gear, while others involve a bit of trekking, skiing, or snowshoeing to find your retreat.
Our favorite part about rustic cabins in Vermont? All of them are dog-friendly, and they are completely secluded from the rest of the world. We have yet to see another person while staying here. It’s pure bliss! For more about cabin camping in Merck Forest, read:
Savoy Mountain State Forest, Florida, Massachusetts
Savoy Mountain State Forest is a huge tract of land in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts is crisscrossed with more than 50 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. There are four camping cabins available to rent year-round in Savoy Mountain State Forest, each accommodating up to four people. The cabins are small and cozy, perfect for winter camping. All four camping cabins are clustered together, but we have always been the sole occupants when we’ve visited in the winter. I think renting all four would be awesome for larger groups. The road is generally plowed out, so the walk to your cabin is minimal. There are two beautiful ponds right near the campground where the cabins are situated. Ice skating is possible if the ponds aren’t covered with snow.
The cabins have bunks for sleeping, and a cozy, wood-burning stove. There’s also a fire-ring outside for warmer evenings. The winter trails here are great for beginner skiers because they’re wide and level (but not groomed). My favorite is the Bog Pond Trail, which is level and leads to an expansive wetland for bird and wildlife viewing. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed in the cabins, but aside from that, these New England camping cabins are perfect!
Northwest Camp, Salisbury, Connecticut
For a more rugged adventure, strap on your snowshoes and head out to Northwest Camp, a secluded little cabin in the northwest corner of Connecticut. This cozy New England camping cabin is rented by the Appalachian Mountain Club year-round. You can park about 500 yards from the cabin on Mt. Washington road, but the road is closed in the winter, making this a 3.5-mile hike to the cabin. Northwest Camp sleeps 6 very comfortably, and stacked firewood is available for the woodstove.
During the summer months, this is a common retreat for Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers. You still have to reserve the cabin in the winter, but you shouldn’t have a problem, except maybe on holiday weekends. Wildlife is plentiful here, and it’s not uncommon to see deer, fox, and even bear (spring through fall). This is a magical place for a family outing, and one of our favorite cabins in New England.
Daicey Pond Campground Cabins, Baxter State Park, Maine
Yes, it’s total wilderness, but the camping cabins at Daicey Pond Campground in Maine have propane lights! The Appalachian Trail runs right through the campground, and in the summer and fall, the cabins are usually filled with hikers hoping to make it the trail’s northern terminus, the famous (or infamous) Mount Katahdin. Park roads aren’t plowed in the winter, and it’s a 6-mile ski/snowshoe/hike to the cabins. Campers can choose from cabins that sleep from two to six people. Firewood is provided. From the campground, you’ll have an amazing view of Mount Katahdin, if it isn’t cloudy.
Once you settle in, you can get busy exploring the ski trails, looking for wildlife or even ice climbing. Winter conditions can be very harsh in Baxter State Park, so be sure to plan your trip carefully and pack all the essentials for winter camping.
Black Mountain Cabin, White Mountains, New Hampshire
This is the cheapest New England cabin rental on the list and one of the most beautiful. Nestled in the mountains and surrounded by pasture for incredible views of Mount Washington and the Wildcat Ridge, the Black Mountain Cabin sleeps eight people comfortably. Amenities are rustic, but you are provided with wood for the woodstove and a broom for cleaning up. There is no running water, so plan on either bringing your own or melting snow for cooking and drinking.
The hike or snowshoe to the cabin is 1.4 miles, but it’s steep, gaining 1,200 feet of elevation. There are groomed cross-country ski trails nearby, and lots and lots of wildlife. Dogs are allowed (or at least there was no mention of them not being allowed).
These are our favorite New England camping cabins for winter adventures. I’d love to hear some of your favorites from other parts of the country.
Resources for Winter Camping, Cabin Camping, and Exploring New England
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