Adjacent to trails, prairies, and wetlands, the three cabins appear as houses set within the trees, providing a modern camping experience formed by an impressive, architectural gesture. Designed by HGA Architects and Engineers, the Whitetail Woods Regional Park Camper Cabins are efficient, simple structures, conceptualized with the natural setting in mind.
Built off-site by high school students enrolled in a vocational training program, the cabins were then transported to the park and set atop a series of concrete piers built into the hillside. The elevated construction, between 14 to 16 feet above grade, minimizes the structures' impact on the surrounding woods while allowing the occupants to reside within the trees for a close-up experience of nature.
Sustainably built, the vaulted rectangular volumes are constructed of cedar glulam chasis, cedar and pine framing, and red cedar cladding. Wrapped in dark cedar shingles, the cabins conceal themselves within the pine forest.
Connected by a bridge at the top of the hill, the ADA-accessible, 227-square-foot cabins can accommodate up to six guests, and include two full-size bunks, a sleeper sofa, dining area, and folding seating, which is hidden when not in use. Outfitted with electricity, lighting, heat, and natural ventilation, with a bathhouse just up the hill, the dwellings provide modern comfort for the outdoor enthusiast.
On the interior, the cedar-clad volume reaches out to a covered deck, extending into the forest. Full-height glazing offers incredible views of the surrounding acres. Efficient in scale, the interiors are a well-thought out composition of functions. Whether it be space for ski storage, where to hang jackets, or views from the bunks, every built component has been purposefully integrated for the camping experience.
The Camper Cabins are the first of 20 to be built as part of the park's Master Plan. These beautifully designed, elevated camping cabins may be rented by the public through the Dakota County Parks for $85 a night.