While enjoying the great outdoors can be an unforgettable experience, a recent trend is to enjoy the fun of camping with some of the amenities of home.
Glamour camping — or glamping — includes the best of both worlds.
“Basically it’s still being able to sleep out under the stars, but you have the luxury and warmth and the windows and locked doors,” said Lisa Liu, marketing coordinator with Georgia State Parks. “That certainly makes some people feel more secure ... it’s still very peaceful.”
Currently six Georgia State Parks offer glamping experiences with their yurts — including Fort Yargo State Park in Winder.
A yurt, as described by Liu, is somewhere between a tent and cabin. It’s a round tent covered with canvas, she said.
Yurts located in the state parks sleep up to six and have a sky light that opens at the top. Inside, visitors have wooden furniture, electricity and heaters. Outside is a fire ring and picnic table. Bathrooms and showers are shared and located at comfort stations nearby. Most of the yurts have wooden back porches, with some overlooking the lake.
Glampers bring their own sleeping linens, utensils, coolers and food. Pets, however, are not permitted.
“It’s just like camping except for the electricity, big windows and comfy furniture,” Liu said. “You still get that campfire experience.”
Liu said the yurts have been built in beautiful areas, situated on sides of mountains or lakes.
“That will give you a beautiful view without having to deal with the bugs and noise,” she said.
Another potential positive point to glamping is set up and break down — or lack there of.
“People don’t have to set it up,” Liu said. “There’s no set up, no tear down. They can come in and come out and that’s a big advantage to glamping.”
Weekends are usually very busy, so Liu recommends booking your stay a few months in advance. Weekdays are usually easier to reserve a spot.
Yurts in and around Atlanta fill up quickly on the weekends she said because they’re so unique and desirable. Plus, there are so few of them.
Glamping is not limited to Georgia’s state parks, though.
Mary Beth and Fred Tanner provide a glamping experience at their Cedar House Inn and Yurts in Dahlonega. They’ve had two yurts on the same property as their bed and breakfast for 13 years.
“We are here to let people enjoy themselves totally,” Mary Beth Tanner said, adding if visitors want to spend time alone in the yurts they can, but they are free to visit the house to enjoy breakfast, tea, cookies and Wi-Fi.
Yurts at Cedar House Inn and Yurts are 200 square feet and round in shape — similar to those in the Georgia State Parks. Inside these yurts, however, you’ll find a queen-size bed, refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, simulated fireplace and a bathroom.
Glampers here don’t have to bring their own linens and supplies, such as shampoo and soap. Those are provided. This venue also is limited to only two adults and no pets.
“We want people here who appreciate what we do ecofriendly-wise,” Mary Beth said. “We encourage people to turn their lights out when they leave and not leave the heat on if it’s not needed.”
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are also grown on site and served in the bed and breakfast.
“We do all the work here ourselves. It’s a very personal kind of thing,” Mary Beth said.
So for the glamper who doesn’t want to deal with bugs or for the techie who likes the comfort of electricity, glamping is an option to spend some Zen time outdoors and enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
“Just get out and see the beautiful state of Georgia,” Liu said. “These are some of the most beautiful locations in the state and they are a more affordable way for families to get out and into the park.”
Camping without roughing it
To go glamping without the yurt, North Georgia Canopy Tours offers a similar experience in several sized teepees to accommodate groups.
“We thought for the camping experience, for the glamping experience, the teepees would be more of a fun thing to do, more of an attraction and they’re more unique,” said Leah Watkins, North Georgia Canopy Tours managing member.
The preconstructed teepees have air-conditioning and heat, electrical outlets, charcoal grills and beds. Watkins said the convenience of not having to pitch a tent or bring much gear is enticing to glampers.
“At the end of the long, hard-working week the last thing you want to do is pitch a tent but still want to enjoy nature,” Watkins said.
Sheets and blankets are provided in the two smaller teepee options, but guests in the group teepee must bring their own bedding.
Packing lighter is another advantage to glamping, since glampers don’t have to worry about bringing the gear a regular camper would.
“More families and more people would get out and enjoy nature if they knew they didn’t have to drag all of the tents here,” Watkins said. “Most people are going to forget something or they’re not going to have all the stakes that they need.
“It’s already provided for you. You don’t have to pack any type of towels or bring your own pillow unless you want to.”
The teepees share a communal fire pit and the property offers activities such as a zip line course, corn hole, basketball, tether ball, ping pong table, foosball, disc golf and a koi pond.
Comfort stations are a short distance away.
“It’s camping without really roughing it. You have the luxury of lights,” Watkins said.
For those who want to try the true camping expereince but aren’t sure where to begin, Georgia State Parks offers a First-Time Camper program.
Through the program, participants get to borrow gear, hear expert advice from park rangers and camp for two nights in state park.
Test gear is provided by REI & Coleman. It includes a six-person tent, four sleeping pads, one camp stove with fuel, four roasting forks, one lantern and two camp chairs. First-time campers must bring their own sleeping bag or blanket and pillow.
Campsites have water and electric hookups, picnic tables, grills and campfire pits. Bathrooms and showers are within walking distance.
The program is available at 12 Georgia State Parks. Visit gastateparks.org/FirstTimeCamper to find out which parks offer the First-Time Camper program. To make a reservation, call the park directly and identify yourself as a first-time camper. It is recommended reservations be made at least two weeks in advance.
Regular camping rates apply. Use of equipment and ranger guidance is provided with the program. Pets are not allowed.