Years ago, I refused to go camping with my family. “I don’t do dirt,” I would proclaim with a firm voice and grimace, shuddering at the thought of spending a night with my head on a damp pillow in a small, claustrophobic tent under the stars. As a kid, and even as a young adult, the last place I wanted to be was off on some dirt road pitching a tent and roughing it in the woods.
Fast-forward twenty years. With a husband and two kids who love to get out in nature, I am starting to turn the corner and understand nature’s lure. Now vacation destinations like the national parks are very much on our radar. Perhaps it is the ever-persistent presence of technology, or the fast-paced life of parenting, but I am beginning to crave more time sitting among the trees, listening to a bubbling creek, or taking a long hike with the family among the red rocks. Fortunately for those of us (myself included) who prefer the plush linens of a luxury hotel, a hot shower, and a gourmet meal—but still want the calming bliss of sleeping under the stars—there is glamping.
Glamping, or “glamour camping” takes all of the work and dirt out of camping. It is this magical combination of hotel-like service in a safari-style canvas tent that allows you to get up close and personal with nature in some of our most beautiful national parks.
“Glamping really has taken off,” says Crystal McDonald, sales and marketing manager for Lone Peak Hospitality. “People love the idea of being able to come to a location minutes from the national parks with fantastic views, and still have the comforts of home while enjoying the outdoors.”
Viewfinder Tip: Glamping sites sell out fast. Be sure to book a year in advance for the best availability.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Under Canvas glamping properties offer unique luxury camping experiences just outside of several national parks. Glacier Under Canvas, located about seven miles from Glacier National Park, offers everything from basic canvas tepees to luxury safari tents with wood stoves and showers. Safari tents sleep two adults and two children and have a king bed with a cozy comforter as well as wood floors and other amenities. Glamping near Glacier National Park is available from June through late September.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone Under Canvas is located just six miles outside of Yellowstone National Park, offering a luxurious home base for exploring Yellowstone with the family. It also has an on-site restaurant with a wine cellar. Glamping accommodations include everything from canvas tepees to deluxe suites with beds, a chest of drawers, wood stoves, and your own shower, sink, and flush toilet. Looking for things to do in Yellowstone? The resort offers guided tours including hiking, kayaking, and wildlife viewing galore. The glamping season in Yellowstone runs from the end of May through early September.
Arches National Park, Utah
Moab Under Canvas is located on a majestic 40 acres of land surrounded by beautiful red rocks, and is just minutes away from Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Like all of the Under Canvas locations, glamping accommodations range from standard tepees to luxurious canvas tents, and breakfast is served and picnic lunches are available. The season for this Moab luxury camping experience runs from March through October.
While you are sleeping under the stars in style, take advantage of the National Park Service’s stargazing experiences with their astronomy & night sky programs.
Is glamping right for you? Before you head off to a national park, check in to a hotel like Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes in Friday Harbor, Washington, or a desert yurt at the Cave B Inn in Quincy, Washington, both luxury resorts that offer seasonal glamping-style accommodations.
What are your favorite national parks?
Photos by Patrick Lindsay for Yellowstone Under Canvas.