The Painted Desert Ranger Cabin is a backcountry, off grid cabin built by Ranger Ross in 2011. Ranger Ross lived in the cabin while he worked as a resource protection ranger at the Petrified Forest National Park until 2015 when he transferred to the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. Ranger Ross now allows backcountry hikers to enjoy the cabin by renting it out by the night or the week.
The ranger cabin is a rustic off grid cabin that offers almost no amenities. There is no concierge, room service, or continental breakfast. There is no linen service or fancy little bottles of shampoo. It does however, offer beautiful views of the Painted Dessert wilderness, quiet serenity, and amazing star gazing opportunities. All from the comfort of a cozy one room cabin with a queen size bed and a flush toilet.
Getting to the Cabin
The ranger cabin sits on a 40 acre parcel adjacent to the south boundary of the Painted Desert Wilderness area. The property is located at the confluence of the Wild Horse Wash and the Lithodendren Wash. It can be accessed by hiking from Devils Playground (about a three mile hike) or from the Painted Desert Inn (about a seven mile hike). Visitors will need a backcountry permit to visit the cabin by hiking thru the wilderness. Backcountry permits are free, and can be obtained at either of the Petrified Forest visitor centers, or the Painted Desert Inn. For information on backcountry permits see the Petrified Forest National Park wilderness page. Bring a GPS to help you navigate, the coordinates for the cabin are 35°02'15.4"N 109°52'07.0"W.
Driving to the Cabin
If your not into the adventure of hiking out to your camping site, there is a dirt road just off the Adamana exit that will take you right up to the front door. However, be warned it is not a maintained road, and there maybe times during the year, particularly late summer during monsoon season, when it is only accessible via a 4x4, high clearance vehicle. However, most of the year an all wheel drive vehicle can make it to the cabin if your a seasoned driver. The address to the cabin is 9359 Stonetree Rd, Holbrook, AZ 86025, USA. For more information on driving to the cabin visit the Reservations page.
The cabin has an eight-hundred gallon holding tank to operate the flush toilet, provide water for washing dishes, and for showers. Please use water sparingly, it is a premium asset in the arid high elevation desert. The water comes from a drilled well. The well has never been tested for bacteria or nitrates. It is not considered potable drinking water, so be sure to bring water for drinking. One gallon per person, per day, is recommended.
The shower water is pre-heated using the passive solar water heating system. During the summer months the water can get very hot. During the winter months the tank-less propane water heater will automatically boost the temperature of the shower water. However, there is one basic principle that you must remember when taking a shower... turn the hot water all the way on, and add cold water as needed to adjust the temperature.
Bedding and Linens
The cabin is equipped with a compfy pillow topped queen bed. There are always clean sheets for the bed on the shelf, but you may need to make the bed. Same principles apply to towels. There will be clean towels on the shelf, but don't expect them to be folded into fancy little swans. Please place any towels or bedding that you use in the laundry basket.
Painted Desert Ranger Cabin
A Simple Desert Oasis
Pets are allowed in the Painted Desert Wilderness, and they are always welcome at the Painted Desert Ranger Cabin. They can snuggle in the bed with you, or sleep on the rug at your feet.
There is an antique gas stove in the cabin. The stove runs on propane. When you are done making dinner be sure to turn off the propane cylinder. The stove will leak a small amount of propane when not in use due to the pilot light. It won’t leak enough to create a safety hazard, but it will waste the propane. There is also a tri-pod for cooking your dinner over the campfire if that is more your style.
There is no valet parking, and certainly no need for advanced parking reservations. There are no public transportation options either. It is possible to drive to the cabin if you have an all wheel drive vehicle, however the road is an unimproved dirt road. There are times during the monsoon season when the road becomes impassable. This is a remote cabin far from anything that resembles civilization.
Feel free to wake up early and enjoy the sun rise in your underwear, no one is going to care if you bother to put your pants on. The neighborhood is best known as a wilderness camping and hiking area. There is no grocery store, so be sure to pack something for dinner in your backpack, also the water reservoir at the cabin is considered 'non-potable' so bring water to drink, one gallon per person, per day is recommended.
Relax and enjoy the desert, but please be respectful. I often leave a few canned goods and other things for guests to use and enjoy. Previous guests also leave things to make the next visitors stay more comfortable. Feel free to make use of anything in the cabin. However, if you use something, it is customary to leave something in exchange. For example, you may use a can of baked beans and leave some coffee in its place. Please pack out all garbage.
The cabin has solar powered lights, but use power conservatively, because the solar/wind powered system only produces a limited amount of energy. Especially during the shorter winter days. There is a small washing machine if you need to wash your wears. But there is only enough power to run the wash machine once per day.....and only during bright sunny day light!
Winter nights in the high elevation desert can be cold. The cabin is equipped with a pellet stove to help you stay warm. The pellet stove is run off of the battery bank, so if your staying for a few days be sure to conserve power during the day to ensure there is adequate power in the batteries to power the pellet stove for the long winter nights. There is also a wind powered generator to help keep the stove running during cloudy stormy periods. But the stove is an energy hog, so remember the old wise advice... charge cell phones and other electronics when the sun shines!
The cabin also has a heated floor that utilizes a passive solar hot water heat system. It is very rare even during the coldest winter nights for the cabin to fall below 50 degrees even without the pellet stove.