Calif. State Parks Attract 'Nontraditional' Users
California State Parks officials Wednesday (Nov. 7) unveiled five new cabins that dot the landscape at the Madrone group campground in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, a popular West Marin park, the Marin Independent-Journal reported.
"There is a heater inside so when it is cold and drippy you can have that same experience of being in the woods without being cold," said Danita Rodriguez, Marin's state parks superintendent, as she stood in front of one of the cabins. "It gives people a different experience aside from traditional tents."
The cabins were prefabricated and trucked from Arizona. The exteriors are made from cement-like material to guard against fire as well as corrosion.
Each 12-by-20-foot cabin has electric outlets, lighting, wood flooring, counter space, a covered porch and bunk beds with mattresses. The cabins accommodate up to five people. Outside each cabin is a small picnic table, fire ring, barbecue grill and water spigot. Two of the cabins are wheelchair accessible.
Each cabin has a name — Redwood Rest, Coho Redd, Hazel Haven, Fox Den and Wren's Nest — bestowed by nearby Lagunitas Middle School students who use the park for environmental studies.
"It provides more opportunity for people," said Victor Bjelajac, parks sector maintenance chief, who oversaw installation of the cabins. "They provide an additional option for people to experience West Marin."
The cabins are part of a push in the past by state parks in the past decade to attract "nontraditional" users, Rodriguez said.
"Cabins do not work in every park, you have to take each park case by case," she said.
Unveiling of the new structures comes in stark contrast to dire news last year that Samuel P. Taylor was threatened with closure as the state looked for ways to cut costs. But the park was kept open as part of an agreement with the neighboring Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Now officials hope the new cabins will be money-makers for the state. The cabins cost a total of $280,000 to acquire and install and the state expects revenue of about $150,000 annually from reservations. Each cabin rents for $100 a night. Preliminary plans are afoot to install similar cabins on Angel Island.
The Samuel P. Taylor cabins have been in the planning stage for almost a decade.
"They bring in extra income, and the revenue is good to have coming back into our system," Rodriguez said. "They also provide a new way to experience the park. Not everyone likes or can be on the ground in a tent. We think these cabins will be very popular."