Explore September 25, 2018

Glamping Next Door

Luxury camping in Yellowstone and beyond

If you like to spend the night under the stars and experience the jaw-dropping beauty of national parks, but don’t love to car camp or backpack, you may find yourself in a tough spot. That is unless you’ve discovered Under Canvas.

Under Canvas operates like a hotel (you can book through websites like Expedia and Booking.com) but offers something a little different. Rather than a hotel building, you’ll sleep under canvas—literally.

Inside the spacious canvas-style tents (think more African safari than Pacific Crest Trail backpacking), you’ll find luxury accommodations, including stylish full-sized furniture and bathrooms stocked with posh toiletry items. In the morning, there’s fresh coffee and a breakfast buffet. You can even watch the night sky from a few of their options as well, like the aptly named Stargazer Tent that offers a skylight window above the bed. Sounds pretty dreamy, huh?

Even dreamier are their locations. Currently, Under Canvas has camps set up right in the middle of some of the most beautiful parks in North America: Zion, the Great Smoky Mountains, Mount Rushmore, Moab, Glacier Park, and Idaho’s neighbor, Yellowstone National Park. As Yellowstone is just a few hours away by car, it makes for a fun weekend getaway for inhabitants of the Gem State.

There’s more to the experience than the luxe settings. In fact, it may be what the host chooses to go without that can make for a more memorable stay. Under Canvas intentionally doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, the company maintains, so the “guests can disconnect from technology and reconnect with those they love.” They also aim to limit the use of energy at the camps, so as to mitigate environmental impact, stating that they believe that “… nature is the best architect,” so they “… strive to leave the land as untouched as possible.”

There are some aspects of the camp that are more hostel than a hotel. For example, their more cost-effective offerings like the “Safari Tent”—which comes with either a king-size (that’s right, king-size) bed or three twin beds—and offers a communal bathhouse rather than private bathing facilities. Due to the remote nature of the experience, guests tend to form more of a community-like experience than what typically occurs in larger, more central hotels.

At the Yellowstone location, you can make the most of your days as well, as they offer various ways to get into some adventure with different activity programs. There’s whitewater rafting, kayaking, fly fishing, zip lining, horseback riding and guided tours either on foot or by helicopter to explore the landscape, wildlife and geothermal activity in the park.

The tents accommodate one to six people, so you can opt for a more private experience, or share a space with a larger group. Whether you choose to bring the kids along and make it a family affair, head out for a weekend with friends or go for a more unplugged romantic one-on-one, you should be able to find accommodations that work for you.

Under Canvas is part of a larger trend in the hospitality industry of “glamping” (short for glamorous camping). In fact, glamping.com lists roughly 800 locations that have outdoor, natural setting experiences with the luxe offerings more often found in a hotel. While some of these include lodgings in tree houses or cabins, a prominent new choice is the glamping tents offered by companies like Under Canvas. In the United States, other companies getting in on the trend include Collective Retreats with locations across the country, The Resort at Paws Up in Montana, and both Firelight Camps and Terra Glamping out East.

With the number of people looking to decompress from overly-connected lifestyles, it makes sense that travel experiences like Under Canvas are popping up. Making nature a destination has, in the past, been viewed by many as a rugged commitment, something only backpackers and campers could truly experience. Now, with glamping, even if you’re more of a Carrie Bradshaw than a John Muir, you can still revel in the wonder, beauty, and adventure that exists within the wilderness.


This article appears in the Fall 2018 Issue of Territory Magazine.