By Jessica Wall
As we embrace the warm days of summer, one cannot help but think of things like grilling, hiking, swimming in local lakes and rivers, and of course, camping. I grew up camping every year in the shadow of Mount Hood (I’m from Oregon originally), and so it has always held a special place in my heart. I can remember so many years worth of incredible memories- some involving 50-60 people coming up to the mountain at a time! In fact, many of my absolute-most-favorite memories from when I was young are centered around my family’s many camping adventures. Although we slept in tents and ate by the campfire, I like to think that my family was a bit crazy and unconventional when it comes to camping. You see, it was not unusual to have a hot tub in our site, or even a stand up arcade game or pinball machine attached to a buzzing generator. All the neighboring campers were always in awe of our site, and often would come ask to play these games, or even jump in our hot tub. In more recent years, we had a floating dock that we would anchor off shore, and would literally become party central as it contained built-in coolers, benches, and a slide (which you slid right into the water from). We flew pirate flags from it, and paddled to and from it from our campsite in small boats and floating toys. Needless to say, my childhood was amazing and those same types of experiences will inevitably be passed onto my children.
Recently, I saw a book in a gift shop about “glamping”- or “glamorous camping”- and being the camper that I am, I was instantly intrigued. While I’m sure many HaveHeart readers are familiar with the concept, let me explain to those who (like me) are not… Urban Dictionary defines “glamping” as: “shorthand for glamorous camping; luxury camping– I aint’ sleepin’ in no tent! For real, I’m going glamping.” Why in theeee world am I just now learning about this?!? Where was this concept all those years when I was sleeping on the hard ground with rocks in my back? Where was this idea when I was reading books by candle light or even straddling the toilet seat in an outhouse that smelled of, well… you get the picture… I clearly have been missing out.
A quick Pinterest check of the term glamping produces nothing short of a myriad of colorful images, how-to’s, and even dress codes (because really, why sit around a campfire in ripped cutoff jeans and a t-shirt when you can wear long flowy skirts and cowboy boots?). Google images for glamping yields the same thing; beautiful homemade tents with flowing white linens making up the sides, real beds inside, furs, string lights, lanterns (and not the plastic ones you have to smack to make them work), night stands, and even little refrigerators adorn these spaces that seriously look like something straight out of HGTV. There are even special glamping recipes (apparently hot dogs and generic marshmallows are for amateurs these days). When I first started researching this idea, I was in total shock… a beautiful, blissful, omg kind of shock- where in the world have I been? How did I not know about this? Well, I do now, and I can say (with a certainty that I have never known before) that I will absolutely be trying my hand at glamping in the near future! Now don’t get me wrong, there is something inherent about sleeping in a tent under the stars that makes me so incredibly happy- I grew up drinking iced tea out of jugs and boiling crayfish (which we caught) on the propane stove, and I am certainly not above it- but to infuse a little bit of glamour into camping…? Sold.
Glamping can be anything from sleeping in tents, staying in vintage trailers (think pop ups, tow-behind small ones, or even airstreams), or even yurts or already built structures- the main concept is that you’re trading a little bit of dirt and grime for a little bit of bling or comfort. Food becomes chef-like concoctions, drinks look like something you’d see at a fancy party (no red solo cups here!), and bedding goes from your crappy old flannel sleeping bag, to fluffy down comforters and pillows. Literally, the creative person in me is squealing right now just thinking of the possibilities…
Inspired by the vast amount of glamping literature I have found, I am going to share with you some ideas I have come across, including some locations for you to truly discover your inner glamper.
We will start with some glamp-appropriate food:
- shellfish (fresh oysters sound amazing right now…)
- home-baked bread
- lots and lots of wine and/or champagne
- fresh greens
- artisan cheeses
- lots and LOTS of chocolate (homemade truffles anyone?)
- foil meals (make ahead of time-cook on the fire until ready)
- homemade gourmet marshmallows (think different flavors like coconut, coffee, or even marshmallow s’more pops)
- glamp-friendly coffee drinks (think iced caramel macchiatos and mochas from mason jars)- no instant Folgers here!
Next, we will look at glamp-friendly dwellings:
- real beds (no thank you air mattress with the slight leak, which will inevitably leave me laying on the hard ground when I wake up)
- furs (faux, of course- no need to attract wildlife with the smell of a potential meal)
- beautiful, beautiful lighting (string lights, paper lanterns, candles (we’re not talking citronella here…)
- chalkboards (think the pretty ones with frames) to pass along daily activities, meal plans, etc. with your fellow campers
- Basically anything that you would like in your perfect space- outside. There are no rules… If you like glimmer, bring it. If you like bling, bring it. Pearls? Sure. Vintage artwork? Really, why not?
Glamping locations (clearly not exhaustive, but rather a few options for your consideration):
- Treebones, location: Big Sur, California- located in the Los Padres National Forest. The campground resort is best known for its furnished yurts — tent-like circular fabric structures with wood lattice frames. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make like a bird and stay in one of the “human nests.” Amenities include restaurant dining, a heated ocean-view pool and hot tub, and spa services.
- Pretty Vacant Properties, location: Joshua Tree National Park- Acido Dorado and Rosa Muerta — two vacation rental sites from Pretty Vacant Properties. Here the hefty price tag is more about the architecture and less about turn-down service. While it’s hard to adequately describe the structures, there is something incredibly theatrical (and stunning) about seeing these pavilion-like homes in the stark desert landscape.Amenities? It’s all about the building, baby — gold-mirrored ceilings, private atriums, and glass walls are just a few of the features of each house. The fire pits, reflecting pools, and sort of outside-while-inside feel don’t hurt either.
- The Resort at Paws-Up, location: Montana- A 37,000-acre getaway that epitomizes glamping. There are staff on hand to build a fire, whip up a rustic (but five-star-quality) campground meal, or adjust the heat in any of the luxurious furnished tents. Horseback riding, fly fishing, and river rafting are just a few of the activities you can enjoy. Amenities include pretty much everything. Chances are if you want it, they’ve got it.
- Costanoa, location: California- It seems like if you throw a rock along Highway 1 in California you’re bound to hit some sort of upscale camping spot. Besides a main lodge and cabins, Costanoa also has furnished tent bungalows to give you that roughing-it feel. Amenities include spa services, restaurant dining, and yoga classes.
- El Capitan Canyon, location: Santa Barbara, California- Situated in groves of oak and sycamore trees along El Capitan Creek in Santa Barbara is El Capitan Canyon — a group of cedar cabins, yurts, and safari tents catering to the “luxury camper.” If you aren’t convinced that glamping is really for you, El Capitan Canyon is good middle ground. The safari tents have outdoor picnic tables, a grill and firepit, as well as a shared shower facility. Amenities include spa services, a heated pool, and Saturday night barbecues and concerts in the summer.
Even if you would rather create your own glamping space, or prefer to glamp from your old volkswagon van, it is obvious that this trend is here to stay. Camping seems as if it is no longer for the “rough it” kind of people only, but rather inclusive of those who may just want a little bit more than hamburgers and potato salad. Seriously, there are countless blogs which include maps of glamping areas (throughout the US), special glamping recipes (artisan pizzas do sound pretty good cooked over a firepit, don’t they?), tips for being super organized, and literally thousands of photos of Pinterest-worthy glamp sites.
So instead of opting for the usual routine this summer, why don’t you branch out a little bit and try to incorporate some glam into your camping adventure? Who knows, maybe you’ll even run into me… Just don’t have a prettier glamp site than I do.