By Andrea Minarcek / Sunset
September 03, 2015
Credit: Thomas J Story/Sunset Publishing

Every autumn it happens: By the time the weather chills, and it occurs to me that I want to escape to a cozy cabin in the woods—it’s too late to book one. This year, I’m vowing not to let that happen. I’m planning now for my fall getaway.

Here are five of our favorite cabin retreats across the West—well worth taking a moment to reserve now and enjoy later!

Far Meadow, Sierra National Forest

This small collection of cabins includes the idyllic A-frame pictured above. This “Base Camp“ property sits on 5 wild, empty acres 12 miles from Yosemite’s south entrance, with other properties farther east, above Bass Lake. All the accommodations are stylish and remote, with ample opportunities to swim, fish, hike, or stargaze… and happily, that’s about all.

The Ranch at Emerald Valley, Colorado Springs, CO

This Rocky Mountains retreat, which opened in August 2013, gives you the best of both worlds: a secluded log-cabin escape, surrounded by 100,000 acres of the Pike National Forest, plus all the luxuries of a major resort. The sprawling Broadmoor is just down the hill, and cabin guests have access to its swimming pools, tennis courts, restaurants, and five-star spa.

Credit: Courtesy of the Broadmoor

Glen Oaks, Big Sur, CA

September and October bring the sunniest, warmest weather of the year to this dramatic stretch of Cali coast—a prime time to visit Glen Oaks. This Highway 1 gem has a main lodge with 16 rooms, but it’s the eight renovated cabins and two cottages along the burbling Big Sur River that are the most coveted. None more so than the Big Sur Cabin, with its private patio, outdoor firepit, and twin side-by-side clawfoot tubs, set up for soaking under the stars. What this 1957 motor lodge turned eco-mod retreat lacks in sparkling ocean views, it makes up for with the kind of rare, woodsy quiet that comes only from ancient, soaring redwoods. That includes the 500-year-old, 12-foot-wide, 100-plus-foot-tall Grandmother Pfeiffer Redwood, the second-largest tree in all of Big Sur.

Credit: Courtesy of Glen Oaks Big Sur

Rolling Huts, Mazama, WA

A hybrid of rustic glamping and high design, this sleek herd of modern steel-wheeled cottages—arranged in a sweeping grassy meadow that was once an RV park—has floor-to-ceiling views of the foothills, sleeping platforms and clever modular furniture, cozy woodstoves, and, unlike your typical tent, Wi-Fi. Each hut also has an adjacent portable toilet. The Methow River is a stone’s throw from the sunny decks, and some of Washington State’s best hiking and fishing aren’t much farther.

Credit: Courtesy of Rolling Huts

Dunton Hot Springs, Dolores, CO

Log onto Dunton’s live webcam and the scene looks straight out of the 1800s: a cluster of 12 Lincoln Log–like cabins scattered across a meadow at the foot of the towering San Juan Mountains—a tipi here, a wagon wheel there, steamy natural hot springs everywhere. If you make the trek to this restored ghost town in remote southwestern Colorado, you’ll find full-on 21st-century luxury as well. It’s the kind of riverfront rusticity that can run you a thousand dollars a night, where both fly-fishing and reflexology are on the agenda, and the “Saloon” is more like an inventive, outdoorsy French Laundry, serving slow-roasted elk tenderloin and reserve bottles of Napa’s best. Though Dunton recently added eight canvas tents to its Cresto Ranch site, 4 miles downriver, its 12 cabins, originally built out of aspen and cottonwood in 1885, have been sought-after escapes since 2001, when they reopened with outdoor rainshowers, ready-to-light fireplaces, and Rajasthani wedding beds. Couples come from all over the world to hike, ride horseback, and soak in the 107° hot springs, as the odd elk, moose, or black bear strolls by. November is the best time to visit: Rates are at their lowest, and the river water’s still warm enough for swimming.

Credit: Courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs