Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Camping Cabins

A camping cabin might be a cost-effective alternative to an RV or hotel room, particularly if you have a family or pets.

One interesting an inexpensive alternative to staying in a hotel, RVing, or even tent camping is to rent a camping cabin.  In our travels, we have noticed that there are a lot of these camping cabins in both commercial RV parks, State parks, Federal parks, and even local County parks.

These type of cabins vary from the primitive to the opulent and are usually less expensive than a hotel room although more expensive than an RV space or tenting. However, they are often more comfortable than the latter.

KOA or Kampgrounds of America arguably made camping cabins (or as they call them, Kamping Kabins) famous as they offer them in almost all of their RV parks.  Initially these were fairly primitive cabins which provided sleeping quarters and not much else. You would have to go to a common shower house and restroom to use the bathroom, and there were usually limited or no cooking facilities.

In recent years, however, they have offered upgraded or luxury camping cabins which are usually actually Park Model RV's.  These often are provided with their own bathrooms and kitchens and are basically a small apartment in the woods.  You can rent one of these for less than the cost of staying at a hotel and the ambience would be nicer than that of the Day's Inn.

They are not always cheap, though.  Here at the Capital Area KOA (near Washington DC) a basic Kamping Kabin can be $130 or more, and a "deluxe" cabin can be $230 a night.  But they can sleep as many as eight people and they may allow pets as well.  If you figure out the rack rate at the local hotels, particularly for a large group, you may come out ahead.

But other types of parks have had camping cabins, or are starting to implement them. On the Blue Ridge Parkway, for example, you can rent cabins that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  We rented one such cabin once and were able to get it the last minute, as it was the handicap cabin and was rented out with short notice if no one had reserved it. The other cabins often required reservations weeks, if not months, in advance.

We were recently in Pennsylvania and some of the State Parks had camping cabins and yurts, the latter of  which are large circular insulated tents.  Another campground in Pennsylvania had both camping cabins and yurts.  Again, these are more primitive, as they require you to walk to the restroom, and you might not have any kitchen facilities other than a cooking grill.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, at Pohick Bay Regional Park near Gunston Hall, they are offering a limited number of fairly opulent cabins at rates from $58 to $162 a night - quite a bit cheaper than even the low-budget hotels on Route 1. These are located with a limited view of the Potomac River in an isolated bucolic setting which, ironically is only minutes away from Fort Belvoir, Route 1, and the capital beltway.  And the ambiance is, well, much nicer.

Even some fairly urban areas have these camping cabins.  In tony Westchester County New York, at Croton on the Hudson, there is an enormous County Park whitch encompasses hundreds and hundreds of Acres. It appears that it used to be an old summer camp, as they have a number of cabins available, also for rent.  Rates are reasonable - from $60 to $125 (with weekly rates available).  This is quite a bargain, considering you are withing walking distance of a train ride to New York City.

If we decided to give up our RV someday, we might still travel by car, but consider staying in such cabins. They are far more relaxing than staying in a hotel room where you have to schlep your bags into a lobby and up an elevator and deal with crowds of people. These sorts of cabins are often located in nice bucolic settings in the woods and provide a nice peaceful background.

Of course, you have to enjoy the rustic lifestyle, which is not for everyone. Some people like to stay in neat and clean hotel rooms which have been sanitized by third-world maids.  Of course, anyone in the hotel business knows that the apparent cleanliness of a hotel room is often an illusion.  While they may look clean and neat, you may end up getting bed bugs - and you don't want to even want to know what sort of stains are on the counterpane - which is very rarely laundered.

On the other hand if you aren't so prissy and don't mind the occasional spider or two, camping cabins can be less expensive and more interesting experience, particularly for a family or group. It is camping without the messiness of tenting or the investment of RVing.  It is a hotel without the front desk and maid service.

If you start to look, you'll find that they are pretty much available all over the place but are largely overlooked by many folks. And whenever something is overlooked by many folks, it may in fact be a bargain waiting to be found.