Glamping: Roughing It Within Reason

Rachel Mooney
Even the words of Henry David Thoreau couldn't lure some novice campers into the forest-draped hills for a relaxing weekend get-a-way.  With that being said, Americans have always loved the great outdoors and glamping, or "glamorous camping," offers a perfect solution. Taking away the rustic edge, glamping makes any nature adventure more rookie-friendly and hassle-free. Perhaps not as green as leave-no-trace camping, glamping offers a middle ground for beginners looking to connect with Mother nature without the fear of wild, ravenous animals and the task of pitching mold-ridden, leaky tents.

The rubik's cube equation of pitching a tent becomes obsolete and buying a sleeping bag is no longer required, as State Park ‘rent-a-camps,’ a concept starting in the 1970’s, typically offer a fully pre-pitched tent equipped with an air mattress for those not romanced by the idea of sleeping on divots in the dirt. Need electricity and flushable toilets?  Jean Backs with the Ohio State Parks says these campsites also have you covered, some even offering stoves and grills for campers wishing to channel their inner Emeril with camp-side delicacies not requiring a hot dog bun. Backs emphasizes, ‘The glamour part is in the comfort factor. The idea is very appealing if you’ve ever hauled your own camping equipment and pitched your own tent, so it’s been an area we’ve seen consistent double-digit growth in every year,’ and the luxury level of comfort glamping doesn’t end there.

Tepee rentals are also a plush and hassle-free alternative to primitive camping and can be found in Hocking Hills or numerous State Parks such as Portage Lakes and Lake Hope, sites that pride themselves on miles of hiking trails sprinkled throughout their scenic woodlands. Beavercreek, found in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, also offers teepee rental for campers looking to be close to nature without roughing it quite like Bear Grylls. Jennifer Domansky, editor of states that, “The typical glampers are female, aged 25-45… and with glamping’s popularity increasing in the last three years, many campsites are capitalizing in the growing trend by offering luxurious alternatives such as treehouses, airstream trailers and yurts.” Although this may not offer all the amenities of a fully-equipped cabin rental, it provides a truly different approach to less-than-rustic rentals, making the experience almost a retreat into the past in areas around Ohio that are rich with history.

If roughing it in a rent-a-tent or teepee still puts you too close to nature, many state parks such as Delaware, Harrison Lake and Pymatuning now offer Yurts, spacious wood framed dwellings fit for a queen. Luxury camping at it's best, boasting bunks and mini refrigerators among other luxury amenities, some Yurts, such as those found in Kelley’s Island, Ohio even offer a cut-out skylight rooftop for stargazing and can be situated lakeside for unbeatable views. The Wilds, located in Cumberland, Ohio is the absolute ultimate in glamping, allowing campers to experience all the romance and nostalgia of their youth without the bugs and mud in large-scale rentals draped in canvas and situated on a wooden platform. Offering breakfast, dinner and a safari tour, these less-than-rustic rentals barely resemble primitive camping and offer 2 ½ hour zip line safaris, specialty horseback tours and memberships for those planning to return to see unusual wildlife on the Wilds property such as giraffes. Meals can be catered and educational and specialty workshops are held on the grounds. All have internal electric outlets, a waterproof foundation and in-season begins as early as April 1st. With Glamping growing in popularity, ditch the sleeping bag, pack your Wellies and book these sites early to camp in style a la the Kardashians this summer.