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Should You Try Cabin Camping With Your Pets?


Does camping with your pets sound like it could be fun? But testing the water before you jump in seems prudent. Or maybe you’re a long-time camper looking for an upgrade. In either case, cabin camping with your pets could be the perfect solution!

Woman scratching her dog on the deck of a pet friendly camping cabin


I love camping with my Airedale Terrier, Bailey. And we’ve spent many nights car camping and backcountry camping around the U.S. As much as we love sleeping outdoors, it’s not always the most viable option.

Sometimes the weather isn’t conducive to camping. Or when I’m just passing through an area and will only be staying one night, it might not be worth the hassle of setting up a campsite.

Hotels are great. And it’s easy to find pet friendly hotels these days. But they’re not always in my travel budget. For us, cabin camping works out great!

READ MORE ⇒ Car Camping With Pets: Prep The Car, What to Pack, and More

Playful airedale terrier dog with ball in mouth


Why Go Cabin Camping With Pets

What is Cabin Camping?

First, let’s understand what we mean by “cabin camping.” Depending on the context, a cabin could be a one-room shack or a 10-bedroom ski chalet. But, for these purposes, we’re referring to a rustic cabin with very few amenities.

In fact, most camping cabins are one step up from a tent. And they tend to be relatively inexpensive compared to hotels or vacation properties. In recent years we’ve “camped” in a lot of cabins, and they’ve become my favorite accommodations!

Another reason I love cabin camping with pets is that I have a safe place where I can leave Bailey if I decide to go out to eat or visit a nearby museum. I wouldn’t leave her in the tent or car for any extended period of time. So renting a cabin allows me to see more attractions in an area where she can’t go.

Pet friendly camping cabin in an aspen forest

Where to Find Camping Cabins

Another great thing about camping cabins is that they’re popping up everywhere these days! Some of the most common places to find them include:

  • Private campgrounds, such as KOA or Good Sam
  • State Parks
  • National Parks
  • DNR or National Forest Land


Cabin Camping Packing List

So, now you’re intrigued … but will staying in a camping cabin reduce or increase the amount of stuff you’ll need to bring?

In most camping cabins, you’ll need the same supplies you would for tent camping … minus the tent. The most rustic camping cabins have a bed with a mattress and maybe a chair. Obviously, this will vary from cabin to cabin, and you’ll need to confirm ahead of time. But generally, these are some of the things you’ll need to pack for every cabin camping trip:

  • Linens
  • Cook stove
  • Plates, napkins, and utensils
  • Cooler for perishables
  • Portable toiletries, towels and shower shoes for the bathhouse
  • Flashlight, to find your way to the bathhouse at night
  • Everything you’ll need for your pet! Get the dog packing list or the cat packing list

READ MORE ⇒ Camping With Dogs – A Beginner’s Guide

Two pitbull dogs on a camping trip to the Curlew National Grasslands


Comparing The Camping Cabin Options

Different facilities provide different levels of camping cabin amenities. Knowing what to expect will help you decide which will work best for you.

Camping Cabins In Private Campgrounds

KOA was one of the first campground chains to begin offering camping cabins. Many of their locations have a range of cabin types, from the very basic to the upper end of the scale, with full baths and kitchens. If you’d enjoy a “glamping” experience, this could be a good fit for you.

When it’s just Bailey and me, the basic camping cabins are fine. They typically have a double bed, twin bunk beds, and sometimes a small fridge and TV. You use the bathhouse with the other campers, and an outdoor grill is provided for cooking. There’s also usually a picnic table and a fire pit for campfires.

READ MORE ⇒ Campground Etiquette for Pets and Their People

Campground Cabin

Many private campgrounds have caught onto this trend and are offering camping cabins now. They’re especially convenient for family gatherings when you have RV campers, tent campers, and cabin campers all in the same party.

To find pet friendly camping cabin options in the area you’ll be visiting, search for campgrounds on GoPetFriendly.com and check the policy for cabins. Pet policies (and fees) will vary.


State Park Campground Cabins

You might be surprised to learn about the variety of lodging options state parks have to offer! My home state of Illinois has several state parks with cabin rentals, as do many other states. The cabins are often located in the campground, but sometimes the cabins will be found adjacent to a lodge.

A good place to start your search is this guide to pet friendly amenities at state parks across the country. Or search “state park cabin” and the name of the state you’re visiting.

While a yurt isn’t technically a cabin, the philosophy is the same. Aren’t these yurts at Tumalo State Park in Bend, Oregon fantastic?!

READ MORE ⇒ US State Parks That Allow Pets – Your Guide to Pet Friendly Cabins, Campgrounds, Beaches, and More

Yurt Camping in Oregon


National Park Cabins

Not to be outdone, the cabins in America’s national parks are usually a little more posh — and quite a bit pricier. But you get more of an outdoor feel than staying in a lodge or motel.

I rented a two-bedroom cabin at Colter Bay in Teton National Park, and it was pet friendly even though the trails at the park are not! My dog at the time was older and well-behaved, so I was able to leave him in the cabin for a few hours while I hiked with friends.

Searching for “national park cabins” will get you started, and will likely turn up a lot of  private cabins nearby. If you specifically want a camping cabin in the national park, start with this post on pet friendly campgrounds at America’s national parks, or visit the national park website and follow the links to camping and lodging options.

READ MORE ⇒ America’s Best Dog Friendly National Parks

National Park Cabin Camping


National Forest Cabins

On a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I discovered that the DNR owns and operates some really cool camping cabins in national forests. A group of my friends rented a cabin at Tom’s Lake in the Hiawatha National Forest and it was a blast!

National forest camping cabins are the most rustic option. The cabin we rented had bunk beds to sleep eight and a wood stove. There was no electricity, water came from a pump outside, and there was an outhouse behind the cabin.

Unlike most other camping cabins I’ve mentioned, this one sits on a private lake with no other cabins nearby. It was perfect for a secluded, off-grid getaway.

There are many of these camping cabins in Michigan, including some backcountry cabins for skiers or hikers. In Colorado, there is a backcountry hut system if you are looking for a long, scenic hike to your camping cabin! And the options in other states are probably equally appealing.

National Forest Cabin Camping


The Lodging Is Part Of The Experience

Sometimes the accommodations you choose for your pet friendly trip add to the experience. That’s certainly the case when you’re cabin camping! Hopefully these options have inspired you to plan a trip with your pets.

Are you already a fan of cabin camping with your pets? Share your favorite cabin in the comments!

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