One of my favorite things to do year round in Alaska is to stay at the state park and national forest public use cabins! They’re a great way to get out of the house for a quick trip when I have cabin fever in the winter, and in the summer they are a great place to crash before or after an awesome hike. I’ve stayed at quite a few cabins and definitely have my favorites, so I thought it would be fun to review them on the blog! First up is the Matanuska Glacier Cabin in Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Area. We stayed there the night before our tour of Matanuska Glacier two weeks ago.
This was my first time staying at this cabin although I’ve wanted to stay here for a long time! One of the unique aspects of this cabin is that it isn’t booked through Reserve America like the rest of the state park cabins. Instead, interested campers need to call the Long Rifle Lodge to make the reservation. You’ll also need to drive there to pick up the key (it’s only one mile past the cabin turnoff). In general, I’m the type of cabin camper who loves casually seeing when cabins are available on Reserve America and choosing where to stay based on that, so it’s always felt like an inconvenience to call the lodge to get a list of dates the cabin is free. But last week we knew the exact date we were going on the tour of Matanuska Glacier, so I had an exact date of when I wanted to stay there – and it was available! Calling and making the reservation was easy, and they gave us clear directions on how to access the cabin. They even helped us out by giving us matches when we realized I forgot to pack a lighter to light the wood stove (major fail!).
How did I forget to pack a lighter? Because believe it or not, this cabin has electricity – including a microwave and refrigerator! I was able to leave the Jetboil at home because we could warm up our food in a much easier way. And since I keep all the fire stuff with my stove, I totally forgot to pack it up. Having electricity meant that I could also leave behind the lanterns (although I still brought headlamps), cooler, and cell charger packs. I felt like our car was so much lighter! And we didn’t even need a sled to pull our gear because we were able to drive right up to the cabin. The only thing the cabin doesn’t have is running water, so we didn’t have a sink or an indoor bathroom. But the outhouse was really nice and it was close to the cabin.
We are used to staying in the basic public use cabins that have no amenities, so this trip felt like glamping for us. It was so nice to not have to worry about boiling water to cook meals when we have a hungry toddler. And to top off the glamping aspect of the cabin, it came with two beds WITH MATTRESSES! One of the beds was a king and we literally slept like kings in that bed. I’m used to cramming all three of us onto those tiny wooden platforms in most of the cabins so I was in heaven getting to spread out. It made our packing much easier when we didn’t have to deal with an air mattress.
Between the electricity, microwave, refrigerator, mattresses, and doorside parking, this cabin is already a dream. But the best part of the cabin by far was the view! It sits high on a cliff overlooking the Matanuska Glacier and the gorgeous valley. It was a bit too cold to spend much time on the porch, but I’m sure when it’s not -1 degrees it would be the most amazing place to sit and enjoy the view.
The only con for the cabin is that it didn’t have the big wooden table and benches that you usually find in the other state park cabins. It had a small plastic table and chairs. It wasn’t big enough to play board games or do a puzzle, and it definitely wasn’t sturdy enough to hook a high chair seat onto it. We opted to eat our breakfast in bed instead.
I loved staying here in the winter. The road to the cabin was plowed, and even though the cabin was extremely cold when we got there it was small so it warmed up pretty fast. After a few hours we were comfortable, and we slept really well. Our lovely toddler woke us up at 6:30 am and we got to watch the sun rise over the mountains while drinking hot chocolate that we made in the microwave. It was such a great experience, and I’m really looking forward to camping out there again in the summer or fall!
Fore more information about the cabin and how to book it, check out the state park info page here.
Tell me: what’s the coolest view you’ve ever had from a cabin? Would you rather have electricity or running water in a cabin?