Haven on Earth
A Fancy Campers Guide to Roughing it
Spacious tents with impressive detail and durability provide the ultimate escape, without omitting luxuries like kitchens, showers, and plush beds.
For those seeking a respite into nature, far from cell phones and traffic, a serene campsite near a bubbling stream may come to mind. Then, reality sets in; hauling loads of gear and provisions, wrestling tent poles into the ground, and being exposed to frost bite and chiggers may cause more stress than solace. Thankfully, there’s an urbane way to go rural without relinquishing creature comforts, where ritz and rustic harmoniously coexists. The growing glamping industry – an amalgamation of “glamorous camping”— offers immersion into nature without surrendering luxuries such as refrigeration, plumbing and 1,000 thread count sheets.
“Busy people are looking to connect with the great outdoors in remote destinations, with out-of-the-box experiences, but still have the wonderful amenities they’re used to in a luxurious hotel,” says Linda Clark, director at Glamping.com. “When you’re glamping, there’s no tent to pitch, no fire to build, just the enjoyment of being there.”
Many young scouts have nobly earned merit badges by pitching tents, building fires, and preparing tin foil meals. Once we’re all grown up, however, a taste of wilderness need not include eating charred marshmallows rolled in dirt. Learning grit doesn’t require backpacking through briars or bedding down on rocks. Glampers understand a little mud never hurt anyone, particularly when applied as a facial at the spa.
Whether in a tent, treehouse, yurt, camper, or igloo, glamping transcends a traditional hotel stay, creating a special sense of place -- a cocoon from chaos – beautifully appointed, in locations that resonate with tranquility and the environment, telling a story that gifts a soulful experience.
Luxurious canvas camping likely originated with the African safari, as far back as 1836 when Major Sir William Cornwallis Harris, British military engineer, led an expedition to observe wildlife and landscapes, “starting with a not too strenuous rising at first light, an energetic day walking, an afternoon rest then concluding with a formal dinner and telling stories in the evening over drinks and tobacco,” as described in Harris’ memoirs.
Owners of Dunton Hot Springs are world travelers inspired by these type safaris. Set in the alpine valley outside of Telluride, the resort was a ghost town, restored into a Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold resort. Capturing the mining history, Dunton River Camp boasts eight prospector style tents on a 640-square foot wooden platform. Each tent has amenities expected in a luxury hotel with en-suite bathrooms, down feather bed toppers, and heated towels. The tents unzip to open air, revealing magnificent mountain views and the Dolores river whispering through the camp.
“Being authentic to the place and its history is very important,” says Christina Rossi, director of marketing. “The structures are decorated with distinct character from the mining era.”
After a day of excursions, like mountaineering or heli-skiing, guests can enjoy a spa service, soak in the hot springs, or dine at the saloon, recognized as a top Hotel for Food Lovers by Bon Appétit.
Built to withstand the winters of Mongolia, the traditional nomadic home has been used for thousands of years. The unique, circular design gives the yurt a spacious, resilient structure equipped to withstand strong winds to earthquakes.
Treebones, a lodge on California’s breathtaking Big Sur coast, pampers guests with yurts featuring plush, comfortable beds and high-quality linens. Expansive views and sounds of surf and sea lion cries invite relaxation. Owners John and Corinne Handy moved from Canada and made their dream of creating an eco-resort a reality. “We wanted to perch lightly on the land and build something environmentally friendly,” said John. “Treebones is for people who love adventure and experience, and want to feel like they are actually IN a place, not just visiting.”
Adult-sized treehouses were made popular by Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters” featuring Pete Nelson, aka ‘the Tree Whisperer’. Nelson has grown the treehouse industry to new heights, with elaborate multi-bedroom designs complete with plumbing and electricity. Indiana Jones-inspired bridges, secret entrances, zip lines, and vine swings add to the adventure.
TreeHouse Point, a glamping resort located 30 minutes from Seattle in a lush forest along the Raging River, partnered with Nelson’s to create treetop retreats like the ‘Nest’ and “Temple of the Blue Moon,” each with artful hand-hewn beds and spectacular birds-eye views.
Stargazing is more spectacular when reflecting off a polished Airstream. Along Utah’s Scenic Bi-Way 12, near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Shooting Star RV Resort gleams with Hollywood-themed Airstreams. Sugar’s Shack is adorned as Marilyn Monroe’s haven from “Some Like It Hot,” while The Duke’s western-theme honors John Wayne. In the evening, guests can relax in a 1960s Cadillac convertible and watch classic films at a retro drive-in theater.
The appeal of Glamping is reaching across the globe. Escaping to secluded destinations with unique, inviting structures creates a special connection with nature. When outdoor adventure, starry nights and campfire tales can be enjoyed in comfort and style, sans hauling gear or breaking a nail, the best of both worlds is attained.