The allure of a simple cabin—tucked away far off in the Piney Woods, hidden in the Hill Country, or perched on the edge of some quiet body of water—has, for generations, pulled Texans of every variety to remote pockets throughout the state. But finding the perfect escape can be tricky. After crisscrossing Texas in search of rustic solitude for this magazine back in 1987, Joe Nick Patoski concluded: “The hard reality is that good cabins in Texas are as rare as surfboards in Alaska.”
Travelers today face the opposite problem: a glut of options to peruse online that can quickly become overwhelming. Search Airbnb for cabins in Texas, and you’ll scroll through thousands of choices, from $50-per-night austerity to over-the-top luxury. Thankfully, we’ve done the research for you and selected eleven favorites in every region, price range, and style. Each cabin on this list comes equipped with the essentials: a suitable bed, a nearby bathroom and cooking quarters (however primitive), and—perhaps most important—a view. Some come with much, much more. There are Jacuzzi tubs, exotic animals, floating sundecks, s’mores stations, and proximity to sun-bathed vineyards. Frankly, calling something like that a cabin stretches the definition of the term, but we’re not here to draw lines in the sand.
It’s still true that some of these cabins, especially those in state and national parks, are somewhat “over-appreciated,” as Patoski put it, and remain hard to secure unless you reserve them as soon as they become available. For instance, reservations for the historic cottages in the Chisos Basin of Big Bend National Park open on January 1 each year, and by January 2, spring and fall dates for the following year are usually fully booked. (If you’re willing to weather the summer heat, you might have a little more time, and there are often cancellations to take advantage of, if your dates are flexible.)
Nevertheless, if you’ve got a Texas destination in mind, there’s probably a cabin for you nearby. Thirty-five years after our last cabins roundup, we’re happy to report that from Palo Duro Canyon to Baffin Bay, and from the Chisos Basin to the Big Thicket, cozy cabins abound in Texas. Here are a few of our favorites.
Chinati Hot Springs
Price: From $135
The colorful cabins and mineral springs deep in the Chihuahuan Desert make Chinati Hot Springs, the most remote destination on our list, well worth the (long) journey. Each of the seven onsite cabins has heating and air conditioning, and some come with a private tub. Guests pack in food and prepare meals in a communal kitchen. It’s enough just to soak in the tubs and take in the scenery, but the slot canyons and endless trails of Big Bend Ranch State Park, which gets far fewer visitors than the national park despite its magnificent views, are an excellent detour while you’re in the area.
Chisos Mountains Lodge
Big Bend National Park
Price: From $165
A true mountain escape, the Chisos Mountains Lodge is nestled in the Chisos Basin of Big Bend National Park—an iconic spot offering one of the best sunset views in Texas. Some of the most scenic hiking in the state, if not all of the Southwest, is steps outside the lodge’s doors. You can make the climb to Emory Peak, the highest point in the park, or saunter down the Window Trail to look out over the pour-off onto the desert below. The stone cottages, which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the forties, are the most popular offerings. Since the setting is the real selling point here, though, any of the rooms is worth the trip.
Price: From $178
When European settlers moved into the Hill Country in the nineteenth century, they built sturdy stone and log cabins, some of which still stand today. Contigo Ranch, just north of Fredericksburg, is home to five cabins that date back to this era, all which have been tastefully renovated. Axis deer, red foxes, and Watusi cattle are among the many creatures that populate this four-thousand-acre working ranch. The property also includes ten modern cottages and an event space that often hosts weddings. Guests can wander through nature trails on the property, or venture out to the nearby Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. With stylish design and modern finishes, these buildings blur the line between rustic cabin and trendy resort.
Price: From $300
Sleeps: Up to 6
For a long time, floating cabins were the final frontier in Texas travel. Until 2001, owners of these buoyant getaways could tow them out into the bay and leave them there without a permit. For some, it was a secluded fishing basecamp; for others, a permanent residence. Now the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grants permits for these cabins, and private outfitters have begun renting out the one-of-a-kind spaces to those who have a penchant for bay fishing and are serious about really getting away from it all. Sleeping on the water means you can fish for spotted sea trout all day and night. Baffin Cabins is a “by fishermen, for fishermen” outfit that rents two structures in the bay. Don’t expect fancy furnishings—there are bunk beds, and you’ll need to bring your own linens—but falling asleep on the water is a rare and singular experience. Other nearby options include Laguna Adventures and Baffin Bay Floating Cabins.
Price: From $225
At Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, biologists carry out wildlife research and collaborative conservation programs to protect endangered species, such as a recent effort to bring back the nearly extinct red wolf. The center is also a safari park where families can stop by for a day or a weekend. Giraffes and zebras graze in grassy pastures not far from the camp’s seven cabins, which have two twin beds, AC, and a bathroom. The enclosed camp overlooks a popular watering hole, so guests can spy a variety of native and exotic species. Visitors can also reserve a suite at Fossil Rim’s lodge and can book a guided tour, or drive their own vehicle through the self-guided Gosdin Scenic Drive.
Getaway Piney Woods
Price: From $109
Since 2019, Brooklyn-based Getaway has opened three outposts in Texas, in the Piney Woods, the Hill Country, and the Brazos Valley. The company builds tiny, thoughtfully designed cabins throughout the country, all within a relatively short drive of major cities. All Getaway cabins feature a big picture window where you can gaze out at nature from the comfort of your bed. Getaway Piney Woods, the company’s first and perhaps most scenic site in Texas, is a collection of forty cabins near LaRue, about ninety minutes southeast of Dallas. Each site is a dog-friendly, one- or two-bed cabin, with a bathroom, cooking space, and outdoor firepit and picnic table. Explore nearby Purtis Creek and Tyler state parks, or just unwind in and around your cabin.
Inks Lake State Park
The 22 cabins at Inks Lake State Park are simple cinder-block structures with one very important asset: air conditioning. Paddlers exploring the lake or swimmers jumping off the pink gneiss cliffs at Devil’s Waterhole can spend nights at the park in relative comfort well into the summer months, thanks to the climate-controlled cabins. Each site has an outdoor grill, picnic table, and shared bathrooms nearby. While this won’t be the quietest or most luxurious cabin on the list, with miles of hiking trails, boat rentals, and lots of fishing, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy.
Price: From $203
In the heart of the Big Thicket, and just eight miles south of Village Creek State Park, the three-hundred-acre Rock’N Dollar Ranch in Lumberton is an events venue with four cabins and two houses to rent. The original structure, Naturalist Boudoir, is a high-ceilinged cabin full of light with a bed that hangs from the rafters and an outdoor hot tub and shower. The other three cabins follow similar designs. Bring your hiking boots or canoe to explore the miles of trails and waterways in Big Thicket National Preserve.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Price: From $60
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, where the flatness of Texas’s High Plains spills into a series of canyons just south of Amarillo, offers three types of lodging. Up on the canyon’s rim are three CCC-built stone cabins that look out onto expansive views of the valley below. The park’s Cow Camp Loop is home to four rustic stone cabins that have all the essentials and little else. For those looking for something a little more plush, Palo Duro Glamping operates “glampsites,” equipped with hammocks and board games, on the canyon floor. Pack your mountain bike or hiking boots to explore the second-largest canyon in the country, whose pastel desert light inspired painter Georgia O’Keeffe.
Revisit Texas Country Reporter’s tour of the cabins at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Paradise on Lake Texoma
Price: From $99
On the banks of Lake Texoma, near the Oklahoma border, and just fifteen minutes from Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Paradise on Lake Texoma offers four “kabanas” and six “kasitas,” in addition to a handful of cabins. Most of the trendy little structures, one of which is a retrofitted vintage train car, come equipped with an outdoor kitchen and a firepit. The site also features a community bar and a hammock garden. You can rent a stand-up paddle board or a kayak and paddle out to the string of islands in the lake. Another option is to go for a hike and watch for migrating birds and butterflies at the wildlife refuge or nearby Eisenhower State Park. Flocks of geese pass through in the winter, while spring brings monarchs and hummingbirds.
Riverview Cabins at Camp Fimfo
Price: From $114
The lower Guadalupe River is considered sacred waters in this part of the state, thanks to generations of Texans who’ve floated between its cypress-lined shores. There are few better places to stay along its banks than this 180-acre campground, with one thousand feet of river frontage just downstream from Canyon Dam. The campground has 250 RV sites, but it also features cabins for rent, including the Coyote Cabins, three-bedroom cottages with kitchenettes and private patios. The place to stay here, however, is one of the three Riverview Cabins—small black A-frames outfitted with air conditioners, mini fridges, and that Scandinavian-chic aesthetic. Camp Fimfo is an offshoot of the family-focused Jellystone Park campground brand, but with a much sleeker vibe. There’s still a water park and waterslides, but the property also features poolside cabanas and even a swim-up bar. You can also play pickleball or cornhole, and hiking trails are coming later this year. The river, though, is the main draw: tube on the Guadalupe directly from the property, with a shuttle service to schlep you back. Come nightfall, there’s a restaurant and tavern on site, with homemade Texas pecan ice cream and specialty cocktails, and every campsite or cabin has a firepit. Of course, describing what you do at Camp Fimfo as “camping” may be a generous definition of the term. Whatever it is, it sure is fun. —Ryan Krogh