Glamping: if you haven’t heard of the trend that took off several years ago, let’s get you clued in.
Glamorous camping = glamping.
The term doesn’t just refer to sleeping in a glorified tent. The level of glamping can run the gamut, including everything from real beds to catered camp dinners. Your shelter may be one of a variety of non-permanent structures: canvas tents strung with romantic lighting, soft-walled treehouses with an on-site sauna, or yurts equipped with wood-stoves and propane-fueled kitchens.
Amongst all the options, the part that remains the same is the desire to spend less time setting up camp and getting comfortable and more time enjoying the outdoors.
Tucked away near the Canadian Rockies; photo courtesy of Radius Retreat near Radium Hot Springs
With the scenery our Kootenay region offers, no one can argue against swapping setup time for time spent taking in the views.
And though the luxury of glamping may be most attractive to those who wouldn’t otherwise consider themselves ‘outdoorsy’, don’t pigeonhole this trend. Even those of us who enjoy (maybe even take pride in) roughing it outdoors may discover a new guilty pleasure in glamping. I did.
Once I got over the idea that allowing someone else to set up camp and take care of me didn’t mean I wasn’t also a true outdoor woman, I realized I could use all that time to focus on fresh air and freedom. It’s then that I sunk into the luxuriousness of the glamping experience.
It’s time you did, too.
Fernie Alpine Resort Mountaintop Camping
Meet the hybrid camping-glamping experience. Fernie claims North America’s first lift-serviced camping with their Lost Boys Camping Experience. Instead of trudging uphill for your high-altitude campsite, lift service is provided, as well as tent rental if you prefer not to pack in your own. And though camp isn’t already set up, the hybrid part of Fernie’s experience have hosts that are available to help.
Once you’ve got your shelter under the stars, you’re off on a guided hike, followed by a raclette dinner at nearby Lost Boys Cafe and s’mores by the campfire. Breakfast is provided the next morning before you take off for more hiking and a descent down the mountain via the chair if you choose. (Mountaintop camping is temporarily closed.)
Fernie RV Resort
The Fernie RV Resort yurts will be fully insulated to withstand winter temperatures and are designed for year-round use. Yurts are warm in the winter, and cool in the summer, with windows and door openings to provide cross ventilation. The atmosphere inside the yurt is one of warmth and security.
The Fernie Forestside Yurts are 6 x 6 metres in size. They are furnished with a queen over queen bunk bed and a twin trundle daybed, all with 8-inch memory foam mattresses. Additional furnishings include a dining table that accommodates up to six people. The yurts are ideal for families up to six or two couples.
The Fernie RV Resort is again answering the call of campers who want outdoor adventure combined with a few home comforts. Their Tiny Home features two slide-outs, creating more room for a family of four.
Interior of the Tiny Homes; photo courtesy of Snow Valley Lodging
Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch
Expanding upon the hybrid camping-glamping experience are the three semi-furnished yurts. These tent-like structures found in traditional Mongolian and other central Asian cultures and are available for guests at this Golden ranch. These structures, which Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch describes as having comfort levels similar to those of a cabin are equipped with a double bed, futon, shelving, and include a fire pit under the stars to roast marshmallows over.
Having stayed in a yurt during a backpacking trip in higher-elevation mountains, I can confirm that yurts are surprisingly warm, comfortable, and spacious while still providing a feeling of roughing it.
Quantum Leaps Retreat
If you want to connect with your spiritual side and feel nature is the prime way to do so, check out Quantum Leaps, a spiritual retreat centre near Golden, BC. Annette Boelman, an owner at the lodge, describes Quantum Leaps as a place for “conscious folks who wish to be in nature in beautiful way.”
Glamping next to the Blaeberry River; photo courtesy of Quantum Leaps Retreat
The property offers two 8-metre diameter teepees, situated along the edge of the river that runs through the property. Each is furnished with beds, mosquito nets, and everything you need to cook, just supply your favourite ingredients. The teepees even feature a fire pit at the centre with wood for each night of your stay.
3 Hills Agritourism
Located at Queens Bay on Kootenay Lake (near Balfour, BC), this new property has timber A-frame cabins (and tenting sites) available. There will be an on-site farm where organic produce is grown specifically for the café. Enjoy tasty Italian food while surrounded by natural beauty. Pizza in the forest, the perfect combination. Tranquillity, beautiful lake and mountain views, forest and organic catered meals are available to you.
Johnson’s Landing Retreat Centre
Choose either a teepee or a treehouse for your stay along Kootenay Lake’s Johnson’s Landing Retreat. From here, you’ll be provided vegetarian meal, including a packed lunch if you decide to explore nearby Fry Creek, or choose to participate in some of the centre’s programming, including the Rest and Renewal package with sauna and bodywork sessions.
Whether you take part in a program or just come for an evening in nature, your outdoor home comes equipped with bedding, towels, shared bathroom facilities, and organic food grown on site.
Your very own Treehouse; photo courtesy of Johnson’s Landing Retreat Centre
Rock Island Resort
Fish, lake kayak, hike, head up to Nakusp’s hot springs, or just hang on the resort’s beach, pick your pleasure at this pet-friendly Arrow Lakes resort. Just south of the town of Nakusp, Rock Island Resort’s yurt has easy access to all of the above and keeps the comforts of home close at hand: the yurt features a full kitchen, two queen-size sleeping areas, and all linens that guests might need for their stay.
The cosy interior of their yurt; photo courtesy of Rock Island Resort
Feel like barbecuing? The yurt’s lake-view deck is furnished for both cooking and eating outdoors. And, since a big part of glamping is integrating the “culture” of camping, when the craving for s’mores arises, fire pits are available to satisfy the need for the classic camp desert.
Radius is situated on 1,000 acres and the first of its kind in the Columbia Valley and is an off grid, sustainable wilderness area. The yurts are in the wild; quiet, secluded and natural. The trails are defined by history and the natural rhythms of the land.
S’mores anyone?; photo courtesy of Radius Retreat
Their Gathering Centre is about bringing people together to experience the peace and serenity of this place. Radius aims to create a vibe of returning to nature, while inspiring people to live differently while we let nature’s rhythms flow freely.
Redstreak Campground (Kootenay National Park) Our national parks have even joined the glamping trend. Less than three kilometres from the village of Radium Hot Springs and within Redstreak Campground, 10 (ten) oTENTiks stand ready for visitors. (The OTENTiks are temporarily closed due to COVID.)
The oTENTiks in Kootenay National Park; photo by Heidi Korven
These cabin-like tents have the advantage of the campground’s plateau views, access to park programs at the campground’s theatre, and of being within a quick hike to both the hot springs and the village. The oTENTiks themselves, erected atop raised wooden platforms, can sleep six people within the large interior. High-density foam mattresses, indoor sitting area, screened windows, and private campfire pits make the camping experience comfy and each oTENTik is close to washrooms, showers, and kitchen shelters.
Snowforest Campground/Mt. Revelstoke National Park
Opened in 2020, it features 62 campsites, ranging from walk-in tenting areas to sites suitable for campers and RVs, as well as three MicrOcube units. Nestled near the base of the Meadows in the Sky Parkway and a five kilometre drive from downtown Revelstoke (2-km by bike or on foot), Snowforest makes a perfect base camp for exploring Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks, as well as the surrounding area. (The MicrOcube units are temporarily closed.)
Williamson Lake Campground
This campground offers what they call the yome – a word blend that encapsulates what this structure combines: a yurt and a geo-desically designed dome. Inside, guests have beds and a dining area; outside, the campground includes family-friendly leisure activities–rent a stand-up paddleboard for the lake, play mini golf, or roast hot dogs at the Yome’s fire pit. With hot showers and laundry also on site, this glamping experience might the easiest way to ease a non-camper into the outdoors.
Outside living too, next to the Yome; photo courtesy of the Williamson Lake Campground
~ Take extra time to research and plan your trip in advance. Many of our tourism businesses and services have adopted new COVID-19 protocols and changes to their schedules or policies to ensure your safety. You’ll want to become familiar with them ahead of time.
~ If you normally travel with extended family or with several friends, consider travelling in a smaller group. Travelling with fewer people makes it easier for you to practise physical distancing in public, and may have less of an impact on the destination.
~ Consider a slower travel pace to help curb the spread. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during one trip, choose one or two destinations and one/two accommodation properties for your entire trip (and explore all the things to do & see nearby).
~ 4 Reasons to Drive BC’s Hidden Route: The Slocan Valley
~ Camping and Glamping in the Kootenay Rockies
~ Colossal Things to Do & See in the Kootenays
~ Funky Kootenay Fun Facts
~ Kootenay Made
~ Pit Stops for a Kootenay Road Trip
~ Quirky Attractions Only Found in the Kootenays
~ Tips: How to be a Safe & Responsible Traveller
Cover/top photo by Kari Medig (oTENTiks at Redstreak Campground in Kootenay National Park).
Words by Gina Begin – Although she’s a Florida girl, exploration called her away after the final bell of her high school career. On a quest to reach the distant adventures of North America, she lived in her car, traveling to ski the backcountry of Alaska, sleep under the northern lights in the Yukon Territory, ice climb Colorado’s frozen canyons, photograph Nova Scotia’s coves, backpack in southern US wildernesses and munch on sugared tamarindo in the jungles of Mexico. But after three years living on the road and seeing the many wonders this continent had to offer, she chose the place she knew would fit an explorer looking for a lifetime of wild wonder: British Columbia. Dual citizenship in hand, she settled along the Powder Highway in the Selkirks and is making her home between four walls and deeply wooded mountains.
(Original published date in September 2018.)