by Monica Parpal Stockbridge –
There’s something rejuvenating about getting away from the city and spending time in the outdoors. Breathing the clean air, taking in the view and connecting with nature can bring a much-needed sense of peace and perspective. And while pitching a tent or sleeping under the stars sounds romantic, camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
That’s why we love “glamping” — that playful portmanteau that evokes glamourized camping for an elevated outdoor lodging experience. Glamping can be the perfect way to spend time in the great outdoors without sacrificing your creature comforts.
When it comes to glamping, some people love a good yurt — a circular tent stretched around a wooden framework, inspired by traditional nomadic dwellings. Others swoon over stylish safari tents with fancy firepits and Turkish linens.
So, for your next adventure, consider venturing outside the hotel room and into the great wide open. There are many ways to get your glamping fix, and here are just a few of our favorites.
For those who enjoy fine dining off the grid …
The Tennessee Pass Yurts maximize the cozy factor. Located in Eagle County just north of Leadville off Highway 24, Tennessee Pass offers a popular Nordic center in the winter and sunny mountain retreat in the summer. The Tennessee Pass Sleep Yurts make an excellent mountain getaway for up to six guests, with handcrafted log beds complete with soft linens and down comforters. A kitchenette with sink, single propane burner and fresh water comes stocked with complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, and cider — plus cookware for preparing a light meal.
However, it’s best to leave the cooking to the professionals here, thanks to the off-the-grid dining experience at the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse. Make a reservation for dinner ($89 per guest), Thursday-Sunday, seven nights a week in the winter, or book a lunch or dinner for a larger group. Once you park, you’ll enjoy an easy onemile hike to the cookhouse, then dine on Colorado Rack of Lamb, Oven Roasted Pheasant, or Grilled Elk Tenderloin under glowing lantern light. Sleep yurts are $240/night. Tennesseepass.com
For those who like glamping paired with music …
You’ve heard of Red Rocks — the world-renowned natural outdoor amphitheater carved from striking red rock formations in Morrison, Colorado. You may not know that you can eliminate the drive back to the city and continue the under-the-stars magic by camping in high-end tents nearby. Just about two miles away from the amphitheater, Red Rocks Glamping offers approximately 50 luxury tents during 30 nights throughout the summer — all coordinated with Red Rocks shows. Each tent comes with a queen bed, two twin beds, or four cots as well as pillows, comforters and towels. Book a tent online, park in the designated parking area and grill out with other glampers before hailing a rideshare to Red Rocks (usually less than $10 one way). After the show, recount the concert experience under battery-operated tent lights or grab a hot shower at the campground’s restroom facilities. There’s even a central charging station to make sure your phone has plenty of juice to document the whole adventure on Instagram. Rates under $200/night. redrocksglamping.com/
For those who seek a bit of wild Western charm …
To take in the natural beauty of Colorado’s extraordinary southwestern region, check into Dolores River Campground. This charming campground on the outskirts of the San Juan National Forest offers plenty of choices when it comes to accommodations, including two private yurts overlooking the Dolores River, each with a private deck and fire pit. Inside, handcrafted wooden beds, table and chairs lend a rustic feel. Bring your own bedding or chip in $20 extra for linens.
While the yurts provide a pleasant escape, the new covered wagon glamping experience offers something extra special. Introduced in 2018, these Conestoga wagons were handcrafted in Utah but destined for a true Colorado riverside experience. Pioneering guests will enjoy a king-size bed and bunk bed (linens included) in each of the two wagons, as well as a dining table and chairs, mini-refrigerator and microwave, and outdoor picnic table and firepit. Those lodging at the yurts and the wagons are invited to shower at the remodeled bathhouse, which was designed with beetle-kill pine, granite counters and flushing toilets as well as an outdoor dish-washing sink and two outdoor showers. Summer rates for the yurts are $77/night; $125/ night for wagons. doloresrivercampground.com/
For campers who seek high thread counts and spa showers …
You don’t need to book a high-end resort to enjoy the finer things in life. At Collective Vail of Collective Retreats, a glamping destination just north of I-70 at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott, you’ll enjoy a high-country getaway in high style. Choose between the Summit Tents and the Journey Tents, each of which offers plush bedding, Turkish towels, private flush toilets and hot running water. The Summit tents even feature ensuite bathrooms and spa showers. The creature comforts continue with a selection of coffee, tea, cocoa, and a hot water kettle in each tent, with options to order breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner.
Of course, part of the fun of glamping is your proximity to nature. Here, guests enjoy onsite activities such as horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking (at an additional cost). Concierge service and daily housekeeping offer an upscale touch; the onsite winery doesn’t hurt, either. Journey tents start at $150/night; Summit tents start at $300/night. collectiveretreats.com/retreat/collective-vail/
For backcountry adventurers seeking seclusion …
Glamping and backcountry adventure are not mutually exclusive, and Never Summer Nordic ensures you can do both with ease. This backcountry hut system in State Forest State Park is ideal for those who truly want to get away from civilization — not to mention electricity, running water and cell phone coverage. And yet, there’s something special about escaping the everyday grind to simplify, slow down and soak in the wonder of nature. With more than 72,000 acres of land, State Forest State Park is a playground for everyone, from hikers to backcountry backpackers to ATVers.
There are several different options for yurt experiences with Never Summer Nordic, and the North Park Yurts, a division of Never Summer Nordic, are the most comfortable of the lot. With drive-up accessibility, solar-powered lighting, real queen beds and fully stocked cooking areas, these are perfect for first-timers. If a cabin for a crowd is more your style, book the Willow Lodge cabin on the same property, which sleeps up to 20 with eight queen-sized beds. North Park Yurts run $100-120/night; Willow Lodge runs $250-$275/night (both have a two-night minimum on weekends). neversummernordic.com/
For those who love intimate fire pits and tiny saloons …
Just a two-hour drive from Denver, Arapaho Valley Ranch is located on a family-owned guest property tucked in the forest along a 15-mile dirt road. Here, guests can choose from three glamping tents or five spacious tipis, each with cozy bedding, a cooler for food and beverages and a camp kitchen with basic cooking and dining supplies. Each glamping tent has its own wooden deck and private firepit with firewood. Restrooms and showers are just a short walk away.
Also on the property, guests can enjoy views of Little Indian Lake and drinks and camaraderie at the Red Dog Saloon. Touted as Colorado’s smallest bar, Red Dog occupies only 80 square feet inside the property’s early 19th-century lodge and quickly fills with glampers, campers and even through-hiking backpackers seeking a glass of whiskey or beer. Tents and tipis book for $150 to $175/night (two-night minimum). arapahovalleyranch.com