Experience the best of both worlds by luxuriating in nature.
Photo courtesy of Vail Collective Retreat
If rugged the Western wilderness, open fires, and stunning wildlife light up your imagination, but the thought of sleeping on the ground quickly snuffs that light out, you’re in luck: Glamping—or “glamour camping”—offers all the benefits of camping without any of the discomfort. Taking their cue from African safaris, American glamping spots lure luxury-loving travelers into wild and secluded places, like national parks and sprawling ranches. Guests sleep in comfortable beds underneath canvas tents, yurts, or other similar structures, and often have en suite bathrooms inside their accommodations, not to mention chefs, butlers, and other fabulous comforts. Here are three picks to add a bit of luxurious adventure to your next journey.
The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Montana: Situated on a 37,000-acre, working cattle ranch in Montana, The Resort at Paws Up offers luxury camping in addition to accommodations in luxury vacation homes, a spa, first-class dining, and guided wilderness activities like rappelling, horseback riding, fly fishing on the Blackfoot River, ATV tours, exploring more than 100 miles of trails, and so much more. “We really refer to the glamping experience at Paws Up as the American safari,” says owner and managing director Larry Lipson. “We classify ourselves as a resort, and we really want to offer this very robust offering of experiences. We go well beyond what a typical ranch or guest ranch would offer.” There are five luxury camps throughout the ranch, and each camp boasts six one- and two-bedrooms tents furnished with king sized beds, heated blankets and fine linens, rustic décor, and en suite bathrooms with heated floors and showers. Each of the camps also has a dining pavilion, camping butler, and camp chef, plus cuisine that’s a point of pride for the resort. Despite the luxuries, the tents aren’t cabins with canvas roofs over them; they’re completely canvas, other than the floor. “The concept was really to be as authentic as possible,” Lipson says. “This is for people who really want to experience the Montana wilderness, but they’re not about to carry a bunch of equipment and sleep in sleeping bags on the ground…it does bring the wilderness closer to people who may never experience it.” In fact, the camps are situated on or near the Blackfoot River or Elk Creek, and campers can expect to spot wildlife like elk, deer, and bald eagles as they swoop into the river to fish. “We wanted our guests to really experience Montana,” Lipson says. “To not put any barrier between our guests and the wilderness.”
The Resort at Paws Up
40060 Paws Up Rd.
Sequoia High Sierra Camp, Sequoia National Park, California: Glampers seeking a more rugged experience can find it at Sequoia High Sierra Camp, located in the heart of Sequoia National Park in California. “This is a rustic, luxury outpost,” says Burr Hughes, Sequoia High Sierra Camp’s managing member. To access the camp, guests must hike a mile into the woods, after parking their cars at the Marvin Pass Trailhead parking lot. Once they arrive at the camp, they’ll find a place that’s at once remote and luxurious. “We’re completely off the grid. We’re surrounded by two million acres of roadless wilderness,” Hughes says. The camp is at an altitude of 8,282 feet and overlooks five groves of giant Sequoia trees. A communal dining pavilion allows guests to meet and mingle, and they often trade stories about their adventures, Hughes says. After a buffet breakfast, guests can pack their own picnic lunch with fixings provided by the chef and head out to explore a variety of trails, including the stunning Mitchell Peak that culminates in views of the Kings River Canyon, Monarch Divide, Sierra Crest, and Great Western Divide. In the evening, the chef prepares a gourmet, alfresco dinner, and guests retire to luxury tents furnished with plush beds and fine linens, and lit with gas lights. A generator a half-mile away provides power to the camp’s main lodge room while preserving the rustic feel, and a shared central bathhouse has flush toilets and hot and cold running water for showers. “Most of our customers are fairly well-heeled people who appreciate the opportunity to get into the wilderness without having to carry all of their equipment,” Hughes says. “There’s no remote, luxury camping facility like us anywhere in the world.”
Sequoia High Sierra Camp
65745 Big Meadow Rd.
Giant Sequoia National Monument, CA
Vail Collective Retreat, Wolcott, Colorado: Located just past Beaver Creek and about 25 miles from Vail Village, the Vail Collective Retreat is tucked on the 1,100-acre 4 Eagle Ranch, a 131-year-old cattle ranch in the mountains of Colorado. Throughout the property are camps featuring luxury tents made from wooden platforms topped with artisan canvas and furnished with king-sized beds and 400-thread-count linens, locally made furniture, wood stoves, French press coffee makers, electricity, and an en suite attached bathroom with hot water and showers. Dining options are equally luxe, with everything from private, farm-to-table, outdoor, candlelit dinners made by local chefs, to gourmet s’mores roasted by the open fire each night (bacon s’mores were especially popular last season), plus an on-site winery. But it’s not just the haute accommodations and five-star dining that attracts guests. The wilds of Colorado beckon, too, with horseback riding and half-day, full-day, and overnight trail rides; fly fishing; jeep and ATV tours; and of course, hiking. There’s even a hiking concierge that can do everything from recommend hikes, escort guests to trailheads, and lead guided hikes. According to Peter Mack, CEO of Collective Hotels & Retreats, the glamping experience in Vail is truly made special because of the people: Staff are local experts, skiers, chefs, and craftsman. “You really get this authentic Colorado mountain experience,” he says. Collective Retreats also offers glamping in Aspen.
Vail Collective Retreat
4 Eagle Ranch, Colorado 131