Bighorn National Forest To Convert Historic Lookout Cabins Into Rentals

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Officials at Bighorn National Forest are in the process of converting a handful of historic unused cabins and facilities into recreation rentals, allowing people a step back in time, at least for a few nights, and experience the halcyon days before indoor plumbing.

Bighorn National Forest will convert five of its properties for use as rentals, giving forest visitors a unique opportunity to stay in the forest in a building erected in the 1930s or before, spokeswoman Sara Kirol told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

“These are all pretty old and historical buildings and they have a lot of character,” Kirol said. “I think there is a lot of nostalgia driving people to stay here, because you get to kind of step back in time and interface with history a bit.”

The facilities will likely be available to rent in the summer of 2024.

The USDA, which manages the forest, already has three rentals currently available, but Evans said that it is difficult to book a stay of one night or longer. The three properties are Sheep Mountain Lookout, Pole Creek Cabin and Muddy Guard Cabin and reservations can be available up to six months in advance.

The cabins to be turned into rentals within the next two years include two buildings in the Big Goose area, one in the Penrose area and one in the Woodrock area. The final building, the River Cabin at Tyrrell, will require a little more work, since it is being converted into an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant facility.

The newest buildings are in the Big Goose area and were built in the 1930s, Kirol said.

None buildings have modern luxuries such as indoor plumbing or potable water.

Kirol said the buildings already available typically rent for $35 to $50 per night and she said she expected the five new facilities to rent for a similar price.

The income generated from the rentals goes immediately back into the forest, allowing for staff to maintain the forest’s facilities.

“This experience is definitely not available everywhere and it just has a different feel when you stay here,” Kirol said. “If you are patient, this is going to be really exciting. I’ve personally stayed at forest cabins across the country even before I worked for the Forest Service and it’s a pretty great experience.”

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