7 of the best glamping spots in the US
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There are few summer vacations quite as timeless as camping under the stars and telling stories while roasting s'mores around a fire.
But, camping has a few, well, let's call them limitations. For one, it's not always all that comfortable. Sure, the right gear helps (a lot), but at a certain point, you aren't going to make sleeping on the ground, in a tent, without the amenities of home (think: running water) appealing to all travelers. Glamping, however, captures the best parts of camping while eliminating most of the drawbacks.
Related: 11 mistakes travelers make on their first camping trip
So, what exactly is glamping?
The term first surged in Google searches around the summer of 2007 — likely starting in the United Kingdom before moving westward to the United States. These days, popular glamping amenities include plush mattresses, multicourse meals, private bathrooms, customized outdoor adventures and, sometimes, a personal butler or other on-site staff members.
And while the concept may have taken off and spread across the U.S. and beyond more recently, it dates back much further, to when the well-to-do would go on a safari complete with massive tents and staff to look after their every need.
Thankfully, if the great outdoors is calling you this summer, you don't have to head all the way to Africa for a safari. Here are some of the best places to go glamping right here in the U.S.
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Dunton River Camp
Dunton River Camp is most definitely on the luxe end of things when it comes to glamping. Located near Telluride in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, Dunton River Camp comprises eight large safari-style tents on the Delores River.
After a day of exploring, hiking, bike riding, fishing or sauna-ing, you can cozy up to an included chef-prepared organic meal featuring local, organic ingredients with wines to match. Dunton's River Camp isn't cheap, but it does include those meals and beverages.
You most definitely won't be roughing it here. Guests have their own bathroom with 6-foot soaking tubs, complete with showers, hot water, double vanities and even towel warmers.
For the summer of 2020, the river camp is only available to families or groups looking to book the entire property due to social distancing guidelines, but if you're planning ahead for the summer of 2021, nightly rates for a single tent start around $1,775 for double occupancy.
Related: Review of the Dunton Town House in Telluride
For travelers flocking to national parks this summer, you can skip the backcountry and bed down instead at an Under Canvas luxury camp.
Under Canvas can be found near some of the most popular parks and monuments in the country, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and Glacier National Park, among others.
All seven of the eco-friendly camps have reopened this summer, so travelers can enjoy incredible access to these iconic destinations — one of the great perks of traditional camping — with high-end amenities including organic bath products, wood-burning stoves, king-size beds with fresh linens and, in some cases, even private bathrooms with a shower, sink and flushing toilet.
Rates vary depending on date and location, but can generally be reserved from $189 a night. For travelers planning ahead, Under Canvas locations are coming to Acadia National Park, Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Catalina Island, the brand's first-ever island retreat.
If you want a glamping-style stay in the trees with hardly anyone else around, Sinya may the glamping retreat for you. This property in Texas Hill Country has only one treehouse built for two with a custom-designed safari tent direct from South Africa.
Inside the tent, you'll find a king-sized bed and a century-old clawfoot bathtub. The tent is even equipped with air conditioning and heat. You're on your own for meals here, but there is a kitchen you can use, and we're big fans of The Leaning Pear restaurant, just a very short drive away in downtown Wimberley.
Related: Best Texas road trips from Houston
Prices here range from $350 to $400 per night.
With nearly half a dozen locations across the country, from Big Sky, Montana to the Big Apple, travelers will discover tented camps with elegant king beds, locally inspired decor and gourmet meals from professional chefs.
Even shared bathrooms offer private showers, sinks and flush toilets, so you don't have to worry about brushing your teeth with strangers, and there's plenty of hot water and plush Turkish towels to go around. Some tents even feature private ensuite bathrooms with rainfall showers.
Rates vary depending on date and location, but an entry-level tent on Governors Island in New York City is available from under $300 this summer, while a tent in Vail, Colorado starts at $199.
Related: New York City’s only glamping retreat just got even better
Asheville, North Carolina
Whether you want a traditional tent, a dome, an Airstream trailer or a treehouse, Ashville Glamping has you covered. This company describes itself as something between a traditional campground and a five-star resort. (But don't worry, the units do have air conditioning!)
As an exceptional added bonus for staying here, you'll be within easy driving distance of all that the Asheville area has to offer such as the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, the Biltmore and more.
There's a two-night minimum here and prices range from $200 to $400 per night in the treehouse, domes and safari-style tents.
Related: Best things to do in Asheville
Eastwind Hotel & Bar
Windham, New York
Don't let the name discourage you: This property, located in one of the hottest destinations of the year, has a collection of distinctive wood-and-glass A-frame cabins perfect for a first foray into glamping.
Don't let the minimalist aesthetic fool you either: These cabins have queen beds, private bathrooms, Frette linens and Zenology bath products — not to mention electrical outlets. It's the ultimate outdoorsy experience for travelers who still prefer to bed down inside and wake up to sweeping views of the surrounding meadows and mountains.
Barbecue kits are available upon request, though travelers can also mosy over to the main hotel for light bites at High Spirits, the bar (open Friday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.). A communal Saturday supper is also an option, as is a breakfast buffet. Due to the pandemic, however, cocktails are being delivered directly to rooms and breakfast baskets are available in place of the buffet.
Just know this kind of glamping won't be nearly as affordable as pitching a tent. Many dates require a two-night minimum stay and can set you back over $500 per night this summer.
Travelers can also leverage the network of Getaway cabins across the U.S. Here, you're not going to find a deep soaking tub and there won't be locally sourced organic meals with white-glove service. But, these tiny cabins are a form of glamping in that you have a comfy bed (or two) with soft linens, all-you-can-enjoy air conditioning and your own private bathroom at the ready.
You'll find Getaway cabins located within driving distance of major cities such as Houston, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., New York and more. Prices start at $99 per night (plus $40 to bring a pup), but can go north of $300 during peak nights.
Related: Why tiny cabins may be the travel trend of 2020
Pro tip: If you do decide to book a Getaway cabin, code TPG25 will save you $25 on your first booking.
For travelers seeking new ways to connect with nature this summer — especially without having to track down and pack extra toilet paper — glamping can be a great way to enjoy the great outdoors without foregoing any of the comforts of your favorite hotel or resort.
Because glamping retreats are rarely part of any loyalty program (though Marriott admittedly made a foray into the glamping market last year with a collection of luxury tents in Indonesia) travelers should just be prepared to pay with a credit card that earns bonus points on travel purchases, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x).
Perfect for both romantic getaways and family vacations, travelers will find that glamping can also be one of the best ways to access some of the more remote (and coveted) destinations in the country. And still, all of your creature comforts will be accommodated. Sounds like a win-win to us.