By: Lauren Matison
Lauren Matison is a Brooklyn-based travel journalist, sustainability specialist, and adventure seeker. She is a regular contributor at National Geographic, Shape, and Bicycling and is thrilled to be writing for The Kuju Journal. When Lauren isn't bike racing or chasing after her two-wheeling toddler, you can find her camping (or glamping) in the woods in upstate NY. Follow Lauren's travels at @laurenmati.
Nature is our happy place. But as much as we all love to camp, now and then it’s nice not to have to plan an entire trip, pack up heavy gear, pitch the tent, worry about running out of water (or running into bears). This season, let someone else sweat the small stuff so there’s nothing for you to do but explore, unwind and surrender to a s’mores state of mind. Glamping doesn’t make you less of an adventurer—just maybe a more relaxed one. With resort-like amenities and private, edge-of-the-world backdrops, these six new outposts have perfected the art of glamping.
Read on for where to sleep in style in the wild, from a geodesic dome on the Acadian Peninsula to an airstream outside Yosemite and a safari-inspired tent in the southwest, right near one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
AutoCamp Yosemite, Midpines, California
Photo by Thomas J. Story
Yosemite is always a good idea, but it’s what’s opening outside the national park this May that’s worth a return visit. Set on 35 acres in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a convenient one-hour shuttle ride to the famous valley, AutoCamp Yosemite is the company’s dreamiest destination yet. “It’s been our goal since our founding to build AutoCamp locations adjacent to national parks,” says co-founder Ryan Miller. “Yosemite has always been at the top of our list, and we found the ideal location that allowed us to include new amenities such as a heated pool, two-story clubhouse and a natural pond.” Guests have their pick of 81 iconic Airstream trailers, 15 luxurious tents and two cabin suites, all equipped with private patios and campfires. Grab locally-sourced picnic fare from the on-site marketplace before heading into Yosemite National Park, where Miller suggests hiking to Glacier Point, “which rewards your efforts with panoramic views of the Valley floor, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. This spring and summer will be an especially great opportunity to capture Yosemite’s amazing waterfalls; our favorites are Staircase Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Yosemite Falls.”
Woods of Eden, Mount Desert Island, Maine
Photo by Kelly Verdeck
Less than half a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and a four minute drive to Acadia National Park, Woods of Eden is an ideal jumping off point for adventure. Tucked snugly away on 24 heavily-wooded acres on the largest island off the coast of Maine, the glampground will open in May with four superlative tents (outfitted with a queen bed, kitchenette and full bath) and a seductive sense of calm—a rarity around Mount Desert camp sites during peak hiking season. After summiting Cadillac Mountain and biking along the park’s 45 miles of scenic car-free carriage roads, Woods of Eden’s lazy summer vibe and cushy cabins is the perfect antidote for tired legs. “My goal for the Woods of Eden is to provide a place where people can come and re-connect with one another, connect with nature and just relax and take a deep breath,” says owner Nancy Sweeney, an elementary school teacher from Bar Harbor, a quintessential New England resort town located six miles south. “I wanted to create a place of refuge that inspires people to put their cell phones away, lie in a hammock and sit around a campfire.”
Terra Glamping East Hampton, Long Island, NY
Photo Courtesy of Terra Glamping
The 607-acre Cedar Point County Park has remained one of the best-kept secrets on the East End, long overshadowed by Montauk’s romanticized surf culture and the vast white sand beaches on the Hamptons’ Atlantic coast. Although this bayside park has been open to campers for years, it’s always been more of a local’s escape than a travel-worthy destination. That’s about to change Memorial Day Weekend when Terra Glamping unveils 30 fully furnished tents with queen-sized beds and six-foot decks overlooking Gardiners Bay. Days pass at a refreshingly slow pace, with sunrise yoga, homemade breakfast, a hammock nap and paddle on a complimentary kayak or SUP board (with seemingly exclusive 360-degree views of Shelter Island and Sag Harbor). For a land-based excursion, Terra Glamping’s co-founder and CEO, Rebecca Martin, suggests Cedar Point County Park’s Lighthouse Loop Trail. “It’s an invigorating five-mile hike but easy enough for all skill levels. There are great views of the bay and its lighthouse, and you walk on both the sandy beach and through the woods.” However you choose to unplug, you can’t go wrong here. Terra Glamping has enhanced a slice of paradise that can wipe away the exhaustion under your eyes. (Just make sure to emerge for the farm-to-table feast, s’mores bar and outdoor movie.)
Under Canvas Grand Canyon, Valle, Arizona
Photo courtesy of Under Canvas
“The Grand Canyon honors its 100th anniversary this year, so the inspiration was centered around providing visitors with an immersive glamping experience amidst the natural beauty of the American Southwest,” says Sarah Dusek, CEO and co-founder of Under Canvas, which now operates eight properties next to some of the most iconic national parks and monuments in the country. Located on 160 acres of pinyon-juniper woodland, only 25 minutes from the South Rim entrance, this safari-style camp embraces the hypnotic poetry inherent in Arizona’s extraterrestrial landscapes in a way that also safeguards its wild fragility. “The camps use 87% less water and 84% less energy than a comparable size hotel, utilizing solar power and alternative energy means wherever possible,” says Dusek, who added that the company has a 2020 goal to produce zero waste through eco initiatives such as eliminating plastic from camps and converting plates and flatware to compostable options. With its stargazer tents, close proximity to the park and adventure concierge services (every activity can be booked, from whitewater rafting to horseback riding to expert-led hikes), Under Canvas is the best above-the-rim lodging option for anyone interested in maximizing their experience at the Grand Canyon—and beyond.
Cielo, New Brunswick, Atlantic Canada
Photo Courtesy of Cielo Glamping
At the northeast edge of the Acadian Peninsula, five geodesic domes stand amidst a pristine wilderness that still looks the way it did centuries ago when the native Mi'kmaq hunted and fished here—not unlike how Cielo Glamping Maritime's visitors might opt to get their food today. “We decided to create a unique lodging experience where our guests and the local community will be able to take part in the development of new local products and learn more about the wonderful seafood we have in our region,” says Pat Gauvin, who opened Cielo with his partner Émilie LeBlanc. “We want people to celebrate these products by harvesting, cooking and sharing them the Acadian way.” Forage for oysters on a guided SUP tour across the St-Simon Bay to Munro Island, then soak in a wood-fired hot tub with a sea-inspired beer from the on-site nano-brewery. Other perks include waterfront hammocks, Big Green Egg grills, a fully stocked market and weekly events in the Cielo Hub like a five-course communal-style lobster dinner with live Acadian music. While there is plenty to do off the coast and on land (bring your hiking boots for the newly completed Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail), Gauvin and LeBlanc’s favorite moment at Cielo comes at the end of the day. “Every evening, we see thousands of colors dancing in the sky and on the water. After sunset, turn off the lights, climb into the dome’s loft area to be closer to the stars and take the time to think about our universe and how magical it is.”
Outstanding in the Field, Locations nationwide
Photo courtesy of Outstanding in the Field
It’s hard to imagine one could improve the al fresco pop-up restaurant Outstanding in the Field, a hyperlocal reverie hosted on fruit orchards, vineyards, olive groves and remote beaches. Then again, OITF is simply doing what it has always done best: keeping things fresh. “Outstanding in the Field is a moveable feast so it makes sense to add moveable accommodations,” says OITF founder and world-renowned sand artist Jim Denevan. Celebrating its 20th year, OITF is teaming up with Under Canvas to provide off-the-grid glamping tents at a few select sites, including New York’s Finger Lakes wine country and Orcas Island in Washington. After a five-hour epicurean retreat like no other, expect to have one of the most restful night’s sleeps of your life. The signature long communal table will move across North America from May to November, featuring more than 90 suppers, many helmed by James Beard Award-honored chefs. “We’re always meeting new people who are doing wonderful, creative things, whether it's planting a new type of bean or throwing pots. OITF is a celebration of community,” says Denevan, a fierce steward of small sustainable farmers. In short, Outstanding in the Field is a journey without a guided purpose other than to eat delicious food, engage in good conversation, and just be in the present.