Sarah Herron

The Best Places to Stay for Non-Campers

by

Co-written by Sarah Herron and Morgan Tilton


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I relish nights spent outdoors. Many of my most memorable, self-defining moments are under crisp stars, next to a glowing fire with coppered cheeks, sand-matted hair and dirty feet. Car camping, backpacking, and van-dwelling are undeniably fun and formidable pieces of travel, and I frequently opt in with zero complaints for weeks straight.

But in full transparency, I equally love not camping. I treasure my creature comforts. I indulge in sleep with a plush, pristine, dog-free bed. (Sorry, Rio!) I enjoy air conditioning and hot showers. I’m grateful for the convenience of my washer and dryer. Plus, camping requires planning and cleanup that I sometimes don’t have the time or energy to accomplish. For all of those reasons and more, I’m stoked to road trip from Airbnb to Airbnb as much as I am to plan a multi day trip in the wild.

Not every outdoor enthusiast may relate to this contrast and that’s OK. I’m a complex person with intricate interests: I savor exploration and the grit that comes along with the journey. I’m also a princess at heart. I love the luxuries of a classy hotel or cute vacation rental. And I’m here to remind you that you can enjoy both, too. 

To help non-campers dream and plan their next trip, here are four incredible stayovers that I’ve experienced or scouted.


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My Four Favorite Stayovers

When I don’t stay at Airbnbs, I like to reserve nights at novel hideaways with extravagant design and amenities. My choice refuge is in an extraordinary place with the outdoors at the helm. The woods, canyons, and peaks are the centerpiece–alongside my sumptuous bathrobe and lush pillows. 

From glamping hubs to tiny home clusters, an increasing number of these impressive destinations are popping up across the country. After years of travel and organizing retreats nationwide, here are my top four favorite stayovers. 


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Under Canvas

Under Canvas provides garnished camping experiences sans a real campout. This collection of luxury glamp sites is pristinely located near iconic national parks and monuments nationwide. I happily partnered with Under Canvas for our four-day 2017 SheLift retreat in Moab, UT. As you may know, I founded the SheLift organization, in 2016, to empower young women with physical differences through collective outdoor recreation and mentorship. Under Canvas Moab was the PERFECT basecamp for our group. With immediate outdoor access, we ventured beyond our comfort zones, hiked, and rappelled in the desert. We also rejuvenated and connected with each other in a relaxing, comfortable indoor space. 

The spacious tents are inspired by customary African safari camps. En suite bathrooms, hot running water, fresh towels, and soft linens, as well as wood burning stoves, king-size beds, and daily housekeeping are included in the package. There’s a communal campfire where glampers can roast s’mores and share stories. The infrastructure also aims to preserve natural resources via solar power, water stations for refillable bottles, and no wifi.


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LOCATIONS

  • Moab, UT

  • Zion National Park, Springdale, UT

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Valle, AZ

  • Yellowstone National Park, West Yellowstone, MT

  • Glacier National Park, MT

  • Mount Rushmore National Monument, SD

  • Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, TN

ACCESSIBILITY 

The units are not built to ADA standards.

COST

$189-$499 per night

LEARN MORE

undercanvas.com


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Collective Retreats

Collective Retreats offers pods of deluxe shelters including a range of lavish yurt- and teepee-inspired canvas tents. Their exclusive five-star centers are scattered across the U.S. in idyllic, remote, and unique landscapes. To point, Governors Island is an oasis with a silhouette of Manhattan and the Texas Hill Country ridgeline retreat overlooks Montesino Ranch. 

Each venue is nestled into nature, so that guests have an opportunity to disconnect and recreate. These premium nooks offer top-line bath amenities, electricity, WiFi, air conditioning, rich beds and linens, private decks, complimentary in-tent breakfast, and a reservable farm-to-table chef. Several communal fire pits speckle each plot. I scouted the Vail location for SheLift—and it’s amazing. Plus, the entire staff was super nice. 

LOCATION

  • Governors Island, NY

  • Liberty Farms, NY

  • Wimberley, TX

  • Vail, CO

  • Big Sky, MT

ACCESSIBILITY 

These pads are not ADA approved.

COST

$150-$400 per night

LEARN MORE

collectiveretreats.com


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Treebones Resort

Located in Big Sur, California, Treebones Resort is a one-of-a-kind paradise with oceanside views. I highlighted my two-night trip to Treebones in my blog, “Camping for Beginners and Where to Go.” This was the first place I ever camped! 

The zone offers a range of habitats to compliment your personal style: decked out yurts, a grand cocoon-inspired tent, woven twig huts, or BYO camp shelter. Many of these structures include comfy beds, lounge chairs, decks, and personal restrooms while others are more minimalist. Two restaurants offer garden-to-table dishes or sushi. To further relax, you can book a massage or yoga class. 

My friend Alex and I brought our own tents to pitch. As a then-novice camper, I especially enjoyed the security of people around me and the modern conveniences including access to a shower, restroom, and food. I’d go back in a heartbeat. 


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ACCESSIBILITY 

Yes. Multiple yurts are ADA accessible. 

LOCATION

Big Sur, CA

COST

$190-$595 per night

LEARN MORE

treebonesresort.com


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AutoCamp

I can be immersed in the redwoods yet easily go wine tasting? I’m all in. When I scouted the AutoCamp Russian River location near Sonoma, California, I was blown away.
First, I LOVE their special glamping concept. They converted Airstreams into accommodations, or you can stay in a canvas tent, and the whole ambience is hip. Each boutique room includes nice bedding and towels. The property features a clubhouse where you can pick up libations, roast marshmallows at the fire pits, or enjoy relaxation lounges. Some sites even offer fun activities like cider tastings and live music or event and meeting rooms. 

The grounds are in close proximity to small towns. You can venture by bike, foot, or shuttle to explore those nearby communities. I’m also impressed by the accessibility that’s offered across each location—something that I hope we see more of in conventional outdoor-centric hotels like this one. I can’t wait to go back.


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LOCATIONS

  • Cape Cod, MA

  • Russian River, CA

  • Yosemite, CA

  • Santa Barbara, CA

ACCESSIBILITY 

Yes. Fully accessible, ADA compliant suites are available at each location.

COST

$69-$529 per night

LEARN MORE

autocamp.com

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