Reserve An Ocean-Front Cabin At Cape Lookout National Seashore

The cabins at Cape Lookout National Seashore are rustic, but serve the purpose for a low key seashore vacation. Kurt Repanshek photos.

They're barebones, rustic, Spartan -- choose your adjective -- but the sea-front cabins at Cape Lookout National Seashore are great basecamps if you like to surfcast or simply looking to spend some down time on a decidedly low key seashore.

Seashore officials plan to open Great Island and Long Point cabins on Sunday, March 16, 2014, and operate them through the night of Saturday, November 29, 2014. You can start making reservations on January 6 at 10 a.m. (EST) via recreation.gov. Rates range from $101 a night to $168 a night, depending on how many people are in your group and what dates you want to reserve.

The cabins hold great appeal for surfcasters; there are even fish-cleaning stations set up near the cabins. But families seeking a beach vacation might consider them too rustic, with their plywood interiors, wooden bunkbeds (bring your own linens/sleeping bags), and lack of electricity. Still, surrounded by sea oats and sand dunes, with the beach a few minutes' walk away, they can be great accommodations.

Those who have experienced them and like the remote setting come prepared the next time. They'll arrive with generators to power lights after dark, and in some cases even tote along window air-conditioners, for the seashore does get hot in summer.

Recreation.gov allows for visitors to make reservations online at http://www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. The on-line service is available 24 hours a day. The telephone service is available 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. (EST) from November 1 to February 28, and from 10 a.m. until Midnight EST from March 1 to October 31. Payment with a credit card will be required at the time of the reservation. Recreation.gov accepts the following major credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

Please be aware of the cancellation policies and fees (see the reservation policies section of the website). Recreation.gov allows visitors to create an account at any time, which will allow them to log on and expedite making reservations on January 6, 2014.

Cancellation fees are based in part on when you cancel. There is a flat $10 cancellation fee, but if you cancel within two weeks of your arrival date you forfeit the first night's fee. That's fairly steep in the National Park System, where many concessionaires let you cancel within two days -- or even one -- without losing any money.

How To Access And Navigate Recreation.gov

Go to www.Recreation.gov, on the left hand side under the “Interested in” drop down box, select “camping & lodging”, under “Looking for”, select “cabins”, in the “Where” box type Long Point Cape Lookout NC or Great Island Cape Lookout NC, then click search, and it will take you to the main page. Click the “Check availability” button, and follow the directions.

If you do not have access to the web, please call 1-877-444-6777 to make your reservation.

“The transition to recreation.gov is in direct response to public input we have received," said Cape Lookout Superintendent Patrick Kenney. “We welcome your feedback on the system, since we are always seeking to improve our customer service.”

Recreation.gov is a national service that was created as part of the Recreation One-Stop E-Gov initiative. The system provides a single point of access to information about Federal recreational activities and reservations. It provides a comprehensive source of information about thousands of federal recreation opportunities.