Will new, city-owned public cabins help with Juneau’s high demand for weekend rentals?

By November 26, 2019 Community, Juneau, Outdoors
The Hilda Dam cabin. (Photo courtesy of Eagelcrest)

The Hilda Dam cabin under construction earlier this fall. (Photo courtesy of Eagelcrest Ski Area)

For many Juneauites, public access cabins offer an escape from town and a welcome change of scenery.

But since a cabin rental is usually cheaper than a round-trip ferry or plane ticket, they’re also in high demand. A new cabin at the city-owned ski area opened for bookings last week, and it’s not the only project aimed at increasing the number of options available to weekend adventurers.

Reservations for the new Hilda Dam cabin went live last Thursday at 9 a.m.

Eaglecrest Ski Area Marketing Manager Charlie Herrington said it felt like trying to get Burning Man or Coachella tickets.

“We got so many emails, phone calls, voicemails like, ‘Where’s the cabin?’ And yeah, it looks like 141 cabin bookings in the first 24 hours,” Herrington said Monday.

The cabin is a short hike from the ski area parking lot. It operates like many of the state-owned and federally-owned cabins in the Juneau area, except that reservations are from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m.

That means the cabin will be open to the public as a warming shelter during the day.

“People will be able to ski through there and pop into the cabin and get out of the weather and eat lunches or just be able to take a break and enjoy the really great view from the cabin,” said Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan.

He’s happy with the response to the new cabin so far. It’s just one part of a larger plan to turn the ski area into a year-round recreation destination. They partnered with the Juneau Community Foundation on fundraising.

“The conversation went along the lines of this being the first cabin, which would hopefully stimulate more interest and desires to maybe raise some more funds and build another two or three cabins on Eagelcrest over the next, oh, five-to-10 years,” Scanlan said.

That’s good news for locals like Michelle Fabrello. She tried to book the Hilda Dam cabin on Friday, but all of the dates she wanted were taken. She’s used to it.

“We’re always looking for something on the weekends or a long holiday, and so you have to be really on top of it if you want anything,” Fabrello said.

She said it’s hard to get those coveted Friday or Saturday reservations at cabins on the road system. A lot of state-owned and federally-owned cabins book six months in advance.

She has a reminder set on her calendar right now to remind herself to rent the Windfall Lake cabin for June.

With plenty of demand, a local group is working to build another public cabin north of Amalga Harbor.

An aerial map showing the location of the new cabin the will be built at Eagle Landing Beach. (Image courtesy of City and Borough of Juneau)

An aerial map showing the location of the new cabin the will be built at Eagle Landing Beach. (Image courtesy of City and Borough of Juneau)

Ian Fisk is the chair of the Juneau Park Foundation. The group partners with the Juneau Community Foundation and the city Parks and Recreation department to improve local recreation infrastructure. This summer, they installed a new picnic shelter by Auke Lake.

Fisk said they’ve already made improvements to the trail from the city-owned Eagle Valley Center to Eagle Landing Beach where the waterfront cabin will be built.

He said the cabin kit will come from Icy Straits Lumber in Hoonah.

“The demand that we anticipate is going to be commensurate with all the other public use cabins in the Juneau area,” Fisk said. “So we’re glad to be adding … more recreational infrastructure in a way that’s going to be fully used by the public.

He said construction should wrap up by late spring. Mark your calendars, because that cabin should be available to rent by summer.

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