Sept. 14, 2009
I don’t know exactly what I expected when I drove into Afton, WY, with plans for an overnight stay at a log cabin. Most likely I expected something funky and rustic, something a big step down from the upscale accommodations seventy miles north in affluent Jackson Hole. After all, Afton is a relatively small town of approx. 1800 people, located in scenic, but not tourist-attracting Star Valley. But I was about to learn a lesson about expectations.
Driving north from Utah, I’d taken my time along the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, stopping to explore canyon features along the way, including a 1.3 mile loop hike on the well-maintained Limber Tree Trail. With a stop in Garden City, UT for a raspberry shake – an area tradition – I continued north through short distances of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming highway, arriving leisurely in Afton at the Old Mill Cabins.
All of the cabins were wonderful. Lodgepole and Aspen were the smallest, both one room with two queen beds and a front porch facing a pine-carpeted hillside. They had indoor and outdoor sitting areas, as well as private bathrooms and the modern conveniences of televisions, compact refrigerators and gas fireplaces.
But a third, larger cabin was situated at the end of the row, giving it a feeling of additional privacy. Though more spacious than I needed, the cabin had a living room area that looked like it would be conducive to writing. I couldn’t resist the luxury of the extra work space and made Cottonwood my home for the night.
Though nestled in a sliver of canyon area, with natural surroundings in every direction, the immediate areas around the cabins were landscaped beautifully, with low rock walls partnering with juniper bushes and lush, green lawn areas stretching between clusters of aspen trees. As if the cabins and surroundings were not already relaxing enough, a wooden walkway between Lodgepole and Cottonwood led to an enclosed hot tub set back from the cabins. French doors formed the entrance to this luxury, beckoning from the top of cascading stone steps.
I reluctantly left the cabin and headed into Afton for something to eat, where I found Hegg’s Grillin’ Barn. The décor was just downright adorable, from the booth backs with barn and silo scenes to the assorted Americana plaques and knick knacks on the walls. To make the place even more unique, the upstairs area served as a shop for Amish furniture, some of which was displayed on the front porch – for very reasonable prices, at that. I ate half of a mushroom, swiss and avocado sandwich and returned to the cabin.
I’m road-traveled enough to keep some sort of supplies on hand. I pulled my travel coffeemaker from the car, ground some French Roast beans and set it up for the morning. I managed to scavenger up an apple scone from a recent grocery run and placed that by the coffee maker, too. Morning was covered.
Rob and Rhonda, owners of Old Mill Cabins, have built a wonderful option for lodging. Attention to detail is evident in every regard, from the artfully crafted log structures themselves to the leaf-design metalwork that holds the hand carved cabin names on each front porch.
The fact that these hand-built cabins are available for overnight lodging is a gift to the fortunate travelers who happen to pass through. The peaceful location, the rustling of the aspens, the tumbling waters of the creek: these are all bonuses. And the hot tub’s pretty wonderful, too.