Camping always sounds like a good idea. Sleeping out under the open sky, watching all the stars, listening to the crickets—wait, there are bugs? I’ll be honest. I like the IDEA of camping, but the reality of roughing it by spending the night in a sleeping bag on the hard ground and using the outdoors as my bathroom doesn’t appeal to me—at all. But glamping is another story. Glamping adds glamour to camping with the benefits of a soft bed, real furniture and upscale touches. You’ll have all the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors without sacrificing comfort. That’s a concept I can embrace.
Here are five glamping experiences around the USA where all those dreamy visions of spending a magical night under the stars come true: comfortably.
My first glamping experience was at Westgate River Ranch and Rodeo in Central Florida with my youngest grandson. He was delighted at the real canvas tent complete with zippers and tie-backs. I was delighted with the king bed, two twin beds, microwave and a mini-refrigerator. And I was even more delighted with the air conditioning—yes, air conditioning in a tent. Do you have any idea how fabulous that is in Florida?
Each campsite has a private secure bathroom located in a brightly lit bathhouse just steps away, equipped with a real toilet, shower and sink. Soft fluffy towels are provided as well as amenities: soap, shampoo and conditioner.
If you want to up the luxury quotient, book the ranch’s newest glamping accommodations in Takoda Village. Each 651-square-foot Luxe Teepee accommodates up to four guests and is uniquely designed with décor themed in Native American style and additional comforts such as a double-sided stone rock hearth fireplace, screened private patio deck, leather chairs and a full sleeper sofa. The Luxe Teepees also feature their own private ensuite bathrooms with vanity and porcelain cast iron claw bathtub and shower. Luxe Teepees are all inclusive giving with access to all the ranch activities including archery, airboat rides, an adventure park and a Saturday night rodeo.
If you’re looking for an authentic backcountry experience, Camp Orenda in New York’s Adirondack Mountains is the place to go. Custom canvas tents are beautifully decorated with a wood burning stove, hand crafted furnishings and down comforters. The bath house features heated toilet seats for cooler days and a center washbasin. A rustic open air shower with a rainfall showerhead enhances the nature experience. All personal care products are provided by Kiss My Face, with the environment in mind and are all natural and bio-degradable.
Orenda’s open-air Backcountry Kitchen prepares delicious farm-to-table meals over an open flame. While a spacious Creek Side Pavilion includes a wet bar with wine and beer. Spend your days hiking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming or mountain biking. Spend your evenings enjoying a drink around a crackling fire in the large handcrafted stone fire pit, surrounded with classic Adirondack chairs. Orenda’s minimum guest age is 12 and rates are all-inclusive.
Big Sur along California’s Central Coast is a place of spellbinding beauty with rocky beaches, plunging waterfalls and misty redwood-filled canyons. At Treebones Resort you can take in the stunning ocean views from the generous redwood viewing deck of your own luxury yurt. Yurts have their origin in Mongolia and are one of the oldest types of structures in the world. The circular structures may be ancient but these luxury yurts are outfitted with modern day amenities including Scandinavian designed fireplaces, cozy comfortable blankets atop king or queen beds and soaring 13-foot ceilings topped with a fiberglass portal ideal for stargazing.
Dinner at Treebones Resort goes far beyond hotdogs and hamburgers. Treebones serves vegetables straight from its organic garden and offers the only sushi for 60 miles. And after a day full of hiking, swimming, or ocean kayaking, you can relieve tired muscles with a private in-room massage.
Set amid one of the most powerful landscapes in the country, Moab Under Canvas is located on 40 acres just north of Moab, Utah. The entrances to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are just minutes away. After a day of hiking in these magnificent parks, your nature communion continues in the camp’s canvas tents where the views from private decks extend across the dessert towards Arches. Just imagine the stars in that night sky.
Deluxe and Suite tents have private ensuite bathrooms which include a shower, sink and flushing toilet—a true luxury in the desert. A wood stove keeps the tent warm on cold desert nights. And king or queen beds are donned with luxurious linens. Adjacent tipis with sleeping cots are available providing an ideal way to give the kids a more traditional camping experience while you relax in luxury. And if you’re bringing along the family pet, no problem. Moab Under Canvas welcomes the furry children too.
Glamping is at its most luxurious at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana. This sprawling 37,000 acre working Montana ranch is home to over 300 head of elk and over 200 Black Angus cows. Dude ranch activities like trail riding, cattle drives and chuck wagons will give you a taste of the Wild West. But when you dismount, it’s all 5-star.
Safari tents boast rustic furniture, fine linens and ensuite bathrooms with heated floors, rain showers, hot tubs and organic spa products. A butler caters to your every whim and a skilled camp chef whips up gourmet cuisine. Additional creature comforts include flat-screen TVs, wireless internet, in-home laundry and decadent spa treatments.
There are several campsites to choose from including the resort’s newest site—North Bank Camp. Perched on a rocky, timbered bluff overlooking the Blackfoot River, this new camp can accommodate larger groups with 4 two-bedroom tents and 2 three-bedroom tents. Each tent has a riverfront location with a deck suspended over the slope for prime views of the river that inspired Robert Redford’s movie, A River Runs Through It. Fly-fishing anyone?
There’s nothing rough about any of these glamping experiences. You may even forget you’re outside—until you see those stars.
Have you tried glamping?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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