Refuge Notebook 11/04/2011


Crews renovate Big Bay Cabin
By Candace Ward

Beginning Dec. 1, reservations for Kenai National Wildlife Refuge cabins can be made on-line at or by phone at 1-877-444-6777. Since our cabin reservation program began in 2005, users have overwhelmingly requested an on-line reservation system and now that service is a reality. is also an excellent reservation resource not only for our Refuge cabins, but also for Kodiak NWR, Chugach National Forest, and many other public lands' recreation cabins as well.

A new cabin addition to the Refuge is the historic Big Bay Cabin on the south central shore of Tustumena Lake. Big Bay Cabin marks the 16th cabin to be included in the Refuge's Public Use Cabin Program and the 4th on Tustumena Lake. The restoration of the cabin took place during summer 2011. Through the joint effort of the Refuge Cabin Crew and Youth Conservation Corp not only was the safety and comfort of the cabin improved, but also it was also carefully restored following exacting historical standards.

I personally have enjoyed renting Refuge cabins over the years on my days off. One especially memorable trip happened in this September. My husband, Walter, and I had a wonderful stay at the Pipe Creek Cabin on the northern side of Tustumena Lake. The cabin served as a base to explore the eastern portion of Tustumena Lake. We especially enjoyed the Tustumena Glacier Flats where we saw trumpeter swans in their brilliant white plumage highlighted against the bright reds and yellows of fall foliage.

Every evening we returned to our home base at Pipe Creek Cabin appreciating the comfort of the site provided by the hard work and dedicated efforts of Refuge staff. I recalled the deteriorated state of this cabin on my last visit to the site over twenty five years ago and it seemed a miracle that its rehabilitation had been so successful.

The last day of our trip, we encountered 30 mph winds from the north making our trip back to the Kasilof Boat Launch a wet and wild adventure. The grandeur and power of Tustumena Lake wilderness is world class and having a cozy cabin to retreat to each night was a rare treat!

I hope you will consider a cabin adventure of your own on Kenai NWR. Remember that cabins can be booked 180 days ahead of time. So, if you have a summer date in mind, you can begin booking cabins for June in January at

Candace Ward has worked at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge as a park ranger for 27 years specializing in visitor service and wildlife education. She enjoys hiking and recreating on the Refuge and other Kenai Peninsula public lands on her days off with her family. Check out our Facebook at