I booked a cabin in the Jefferson Washington National Forest. The cabin is for 4 people. We're 6 actually, and we hoped to book 2 cabins, but by the time we could finish one reservation and start the second, the dates were gone.

I told my friends this and they said we could just sneak in and crash somewhere on the couch or something like that.

Is that possible? Will we be inspected? Are two extra people going to matter? Has anyone been to this place with such a situation?

  • 3
    2 extra full-size adult people, or are they children? Sometimes these sorts of things are more lenient when your extras are underage. Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 2:22
  • 2
    Not that it necessarily makes a difference here, but do note that US National Parks and National Forests are different things, and in fact are administered by different government agencies with different agendas.
    – choster
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 18:26
  • 1
    Also, did you rent from a USDA facility, or from a private concessionaire?
    – choster
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 18:33
  • @choster I rented from recreation.gov
    – D437
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 19:40
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas They're not kids, they're adults. All over 25
    – D437
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 19:45

2 Answers 2


I use these types of cabins quite frequently and it is different for each cabin.

One cabin is more strict and each person has to check in at the national park desk, so they can account for each person (in case someone doesn't return they know to send a search party), which is nice.

Another cabin, one person reserves it and everyone just shows up and nobody ever checks for occupancy amounts.

I would call the help line or the specific cabin national park line and ask if you all need to check-in or what the check in process is. This should let you know if they are going to check on you at the cabin.

Also if they check they usually do in the afternoon and just tell them that your friends stopped by for a day hike and will be leaving soon. Works like a charm.

Just fyi, I have never been checked at either type of cabin. I have only been questioned at check-in.

Hope this helps.

  • My experience has been the same, with respect to tent camping. I was only checked at check-in. Commented May 10, 2018 at 18:14
  • Nice to finally get an answer to this question. It's great that there's a higher probability of me not facing an issue, but among the personal experiences you've mentioned here, was your group size more than the listed occupancy limits at any time?
    – D437
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 19:30

Okay, I was able to finally complete this camp and I am happy to report we did NOT get caught. But, that's not because of the rules, it's because we got lucky.

When I checked into the cabin, there was a rule book that clearly said the cabin was only supposed to host 4 people and any extra people would have to rent a campsite adjacent to the cabin and stay there.

It also went on to say that any misrepresentation about the number of members staying would result in eviction and a permanent ban from using the cabin, forfeiture of the fees paid and revocation of rental privileges.

So yeah, the US Forest Service basically has the maximum occupancy conundrum covered in its rule book. For anyone in the future reading this, if you do it, make sure you don't get caught because if you do, the punishment is severe.

  • 1
    I strongly suspect they don't really care either way, but need to have such a rule on the books for legal reasons.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 3:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .