“Staggering” growth in the region's rental market

If you’re looking for a cabin to stay in overnight following your next visit to Old Man’s Cave, you may have competition. HomeAway, the Austin, Texas-based company that has turned second-home owners worldwide into vacation rental proprietors, reports that Hocking Hills is the company’s fastest-growing U.S. destination.

According to the HomeAway 2019 Trend Report, which covers the year ending Aug. 31, 2018, rental demand in the scenic region was up 130 percent over the prior year. Over the past three years, the increase was a “staggering” 375 percent, according to HomeAway travel specialist Melanie Fish.

“The Hocking Hills region grew dramatically, in terms of demand,” Fish said in a telephone interview. Fish attributed the growth in vacation home rentals to the region’s accessibility by car, a relative lack of chain hotels, and “increased demand for getting close to nature but having the comforts of home at the end of the day.” Fastest-growing destinations in past years have included Hurricane, Utah, located near Zion National Park, and Broken Bow, Oklahoma, adjacent to the popular Beavers Bend State Park.

Fish also pointed out that Hocking Hills has an unusually long peak season, with prices going up in April and remaining high through September. Prices for rentals listed on HomeAway peaked this year in July at at $288 per night, but remained at $274 in November.

“I’m seeing everything from sweet cabins in the woods for $100 to places where people have added an apartment to a barn to add a vacation home next to their primary residence,” Fish said. “I’m even seeing locations appropriate for executive retreats, like an eight-bedroom home with an indoor-outdoor pool that rents for $1,800 a night.”

Interested in buying a place and capturing some of that rental market yourself? According to Zillow, the median home value in Hocking County is $127,000 and has risen 14.9% over the past year—although Zillow predicts price increases will slow to 7.2% in the coming year.

But if you just want somewhere to stay, you have plenty of options, whether you’re searching through HomeAway or on other sites. You’ll find a tipi camping retreat, a converted caboose and the medieval-style Ravenwood Castle. At the tourism website explorehockinghills.com you’ll also find links to yurts and treehouses, in addition to traditional cabins. You can get a massage and a facial at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls, or go old-school and rent a cabin or campsite at Hocking Hills State Park.