Glamping: The outoors without rough spots

By Doug Moss and Roddy Scheer
Glamping is for those who want comfort while camping.
Glamping is for those who want comfort while camping.
--Stock image.

Dear EarthTalk: I was never keen on tent camping, but I hear that the new glamping trend takes some of the discomfort out of spending the night in nature. Where are some glamping hot spots across the United States?  

-- Jon Rubinstein, Albany, New York 
     While traditional campgrounds are great, they don’t always feel like an escape to nature, especially given the dog-eat-dog aspect of scoring a site and the fact that you’ll be living right next to your neighbors. And while the price may be right — you can get a tent site in most state parks for less than $30 per night — maybe you would be willing to pay more for privacy and some creature comforts? If you’re one of the millions of Americans yearning for more outdoors time but don’t want to deal with campgrounds, glamping (short for “glamorous camping”) might be just your speed.  
     Indeed, glamping is one of the hottest trends in the hospitality sector, and several travel startups have risen to the challenge. To wit, Roam Beyond tows ecofriendly, solar-powered, off-grid camping trailers (made in the U.S. by sister company Homegrown Trailers) onto various sites in or near iconic natural areas around the West. Their first two sites are in Washington state (on the Pacific coast and in the Cascade foothills), but the company has new sites in the works at Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Sedona, Moab, Zion and the Grand Canyon. 
     California-based AutoCamp offers guests the opportunity to spend the night in a tricked-out customized Airstream and now works in partnership with Airstream to produce hundreds of new customized ones. The company recently raised $115 million in venture capital to expand to several locations in California and on the East Coast.  
     New York City isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think glamping, but Collective Retreats is trying to change that with its new platform-tent resort on Governors Island. Yes, you’ll be sleeping in a tent, but inside you’ll have all the amenities you’d expect at a five-star hotel, including plush beds with high thread count linens, bathrooms with luxury amenities and chef-prepared farm-to-table meals. You can also indulge in the Collective Retreats experience at other properties in upstate New York’s Hudson Valley on a working organic farm as well as in the Texas Hill Country and at Yellowstone and Vail. 
     Yet another option is Under Canvas, which operates safari-style canvas tent resorts in eight locations across the country including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Moab, Glacier, Zion, Mount Rushmore, Tucson and the Great Smoky Mountains. You’ll hardly be roughing it in one of the Under Canvas tents given the en suite bathrooms, king- size beds, daily housekeeping and wood-burning stoves.  
     Of course, these startups didn’t invent glamping, and there are still many ways to glamp at one-off resorts and sites across the country. In fact, a quick search for glamping spots in the United States on turns up 20,000 listings. And many state parks and private campgrounds are devoting more space to yurts, tepees and even overnight lodging made out of refurbished shipping containers.  


     Are groups improving access to nature?

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