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  • Writer's pictureKelsey


Adopt-a-cabins are first come, first serve, leave it better than you found it, remote cabins.


In most cases they are well over 100 years old. Some volunteers, and in the past even BLM sponsored groups, will work on these old miners shacks to keep them standing.

One may just have a repaired roof to keep the rain out. Another might have a working stereo/solar panels/working refrigerator/BBQ/fresh water/garage etc. The fun part is finding these cabins and participating in their continued stewardship for all to enjoy.

It sounds a bit hokey, but when you see the amount of work and ingenuity you either want to be a part of it or apparently, you want to destroy it. Don’t be like the second type of person.


How the cabins work:

1. No one owns them. (In some cases someone does actually, but the rules are first come first serve no matter which one you’re in).

  • Most of these cabins have mice/rats. If you don’t want the Hantavirus, it’s best to sleep outside. We spend a lot of time inside of them and there are several of my friends that sleep in them. I’m not one of them. I prefer to retire to my truck for bed.

2. How do you go about staying at one? You arrive, put up the American flag and that’s it. It’s now yours to stay in. We always invite other visitors to stay with us because it’s just the right thing to do. Sometimes people have traveled for hours or days to stay there so it’s nice to share.

3. What’s the cost? There is no $ cost, but often times there is a jar of money you can contribute to. The good folks that keep the cabin in shape will use it for nails, paint, windows etc. Or, you can simply bring what the cabin needs! Paint, toilet paper, some piping to repair water lines etc. It’s all appreciated. Sometimes there is a list of “needed items.” (It really blows your mind when you see a jar of $20's. It gives you faith in humanity).

4. Why won't people tell me how to get there. Because, some people suck and that’s the only way to protect them, at least somewhat. I’ve seen a beautiful cabin one year, only to see a burned out hull the next. We all have to find them.That’s part of the fun! Once you find the first one, you feel proud and know you’ll want to find more!!!

5. Why don’t they make the road to them easier to traverse? In most cases, there is no “THEY” to improve the road. Also, often times the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) deems a cabin too accessible and too dangerous so they bull doze it flat! No one wants that to happen. I’ve gotten to where I know a cabin once stood and it’s just a perfectly manicured piece of flat dirt. :-(

6. How do I know if it’s an adopt a cabin or some ones actual home!? Obey private property signs, don’t go past locked gates (unless you KNOW the cabin past it is one of the shared use ones).

7. How do I find out more about these cabins? Go out and find them! There is info all over the internet about them. Some even have very general directions to get you started, but the actual location is generally hidden and should remain this way. When you see how much work has gone into some of these, you’ll want to keep it that way out of respect for those who’ve brought these abandoned places back from the dead.

If you want to start with one, research the Barker Family ranch. It’s where Charles Manson was captured. I bet the Barker’s regret ever renting to a crazy hippie. Their once picturesque ranch will always be associated with him although no one was ever thought to have been killed there.


So, with that. Here are some pictures.

Basic one in Nevada

A very nice one that was in use until the 70's. The pool was fed by a natural warm spring so it was always fresh. Word is, that some folks know how to turn the piping back on to fill the pool. What a day that would be. A Toyota Corolla with a good driver can get to this one.



A memorial above the fire place dedicated to some friend's Dog who visited this cabin with them many times.


Nice one that’s a bit tougher to get to, but still very well known.


Here is another one, not far away.

Per the usual. Leave open gates open and closed gates closed unless it’s otherwise signed like this one.


This semi-famous cabin was once a nice one. Unfortunately, it got too famous. Just because one evil guy lived here for a very short time, a ranch that was around for a long time owned by a family, was burnt to the ground. Very f-ed up.

Before vs After


Moving right along. This one is a favorite for most of us. The road is always changing. Figure a 4x4 with a tiny bit of lift and a decent driver can get you there. There are actually 2 cabins here. Right next to each other.

This one has water, power, a stereo inside and out, batteries, solar panels, full propane hookups for the fridge and stove, a homemade cooling system, a target shooting table and range, a garden, a bathroom etc. It’s absolutely amazing.


The following photos are a bit of each cabin.


Moving along to the next cabin. This one we found while trying to get away

from this dust storm.

(One of my poor friends was on a motorcycle. She’s tough as nails).



In addition to Cabins you can often find other neat random things. On the early maps, this area was marked/named “Marble Bath” so some enterprising early desert explorers decided to make it literal.

People bring extra marbles and rubber duckies on occasion to keep it stocked up!


Here’s another one. It’s right on the California/Nevada border.

I could go on for hours, but I’d rather plan my next trip and you should start planning yours. The deserts of Arizona, the Mojave Desert and remote areas of Death Valley are where you’ll find the majority of these cabins, but they do exist in the reaches of Colorado and Utah so keep your eyes peeled!! You never know, you might even find a bar, that’s not a bar since there is no liquour or business license. You just take beers, but then feel a strong urge to donate some money to the bars preservation. No sale, just donations.

Happy Hunting!



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