Story by Gina Begin.
Glamping: if you haven’t heard of the trend that took off a years ago, let’s get you clued in.
Glamourous 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 woodstoves 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.
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.
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—hosts 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.
Psst: Is it time for your kids to “go play outside”? Fernie has a supervised experience for them—check out the resort’s “Kids Howl at the Moon” camp outs for more details.
Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch
Expanding upon the “hybrid camping-glamping” experience are the three semi-furnished yurts—tent-like structures found in traditional Mongolian and other central Asian cultures—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.”
Love & Lantern
Available within the Golden area, Love & Lantern does everything but cook for you. Reserve one of their canvas “bell” tents and they’ll deliver, set up camp, and clean up after you’re gone—leaving you with nothing to worry about except counting stars at night. When you arrive, you’ll find yourself at home: each tent rental is set up with beds and linens, including a duvet and extra blankets; seating area; decor; side tables & lighting; outdoor seating & outdoor blankets; and a “Camp Kit” that has all your kitchen needs.
Cold night forecasted? No excuse not to get out there: a heater is provided, too.
Interior shot of the canvas bell tents, with Love and Lantern
Quantum Leaps Lodge
If you want to connect with your spiritual side and feel nature is the prime way to do so, check out Quantum Leaps Lodge, a spiritual retreat centre near Golden. 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.” 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.
Johnson’s Landing Retreat
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 meals—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.
The treehouse at Johnson's Landing Retreat
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, ten “oTENTiks” (top photo) stand ready for visitors. 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.
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. 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.
Bonus: Rock Island Resort provides a double kayak for its guests along with other beach toys. Should you need to stay connected during your campout, wifi is available, too.
Photo courtesy of Rock Island Resort
Williamson Lake Campground
This campground offers what they call the “Yome”—a word blend that encapsulates what this structure combines: a yurt and a geodesically designed “dome”. Inside, guests have beds and a dining area; outside, the campground includes family-friendly leisure activities—rent a standup 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.
Photo by Olly Hogan - the Yome at Williamson Lake Campground
honourable mentions include these other unique glam-vacation spots:
- The Flats RV Rental (vintage airstreams to motorcoach rentals in Canal Flats)
- Sunshine Houseboats (nightly dock rentals on Lake Koocanusa, near Jaffray)
Wanting to start your own Glamping business in the Kootenays, the Little Cabin Company in the Elk Valley designs and builds tiny houses that can be transported to your one-of-a-kind destination.
Cover/top photo by Heidi Korven (oTENTiks in Kootenay National Park).
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.