By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
Let’s face it, the best part of glamping is sleeping in a bed. Glamping is where camping and luxury meet, and that involves comfy blankets, beds and pillows. It can also mean a lot of other conveniences that aren’t normally associated with camping.
Added to the dictionary in 2016, the word “glamping” is new, but the concept isn’t. Humans have been sleeping in tents since the beginning of time and surrounding themselves with cozy amenities, including beds. Not surprising since sleeping on the ground has never been comfortable and humans are creatures of comfort.
In the 16th century, kings and dukes enjoyed palatial tents furnished with everything that could be found at their palaces. Military commanders’ tents were similarly appointed at the time. Fast forward to the 1920s, and African safaris were all the rage. Going on safari did not mean roughing it. Safari tents were equipped with real furniture and even gin cabinets; no safari tourist suffered discomfort in the wilds of Africa.
Glamping combines the words “camping” and “glamorous.” Today’s glamorous camping occurs in yurts, bell tents, huts, shepherd wagons and even in tree houses built with adults in mind. Yurt getaways are popular in Colorado, and some offer scant amenities while others are fitted for a king. Also favored in the mountains are huts that provide shelter to those willing to ski or backpack into them. These huts are often sparsely furnished, and conveniences like bedding must be transported by the backpacker.
There are multiple glamping opportunities in Colorado; this article covers just two. The first is located east of Greeley along the banks of the South Platte River.
Platte River Fort Resort & Event Center, built in 2001 as a replica of Bent’s Fort in La Junta, sits on 235 acres. This picturesque fortress hosts weddings, family reunions and retreats. They also host guests in their six Lotus Belle Yurts and a covered wagon located at the edge of the South Platte River.
The river meanders just beyond the fort and past a bucolic field of grazing longhorn cattle. The campsites, on the banks of the river, sit below massive cottonwood trees. Each tent has its own spacious piece of verdant waterfront acreage, complete with firepit, chairs and a picnic table. Inside, each tent is a little different: Some offer an escape for a family of four, such as the Harmony Yurt, which features two beds. Others provide the perfect romantic rendezvous like the Love Yurt.
Love Yurt | Photo courtesy of Platte River Fort Resort & Event Center.
Covered wagon sleeps four. | Photo courtesy of Platte River Fort Resort & Event Center.
The covered wagon, tucked into the trees, is ideal for a family with children. It has a king bed for mom and dad and two twin size bunk beds for the kids. With thick comforters and padded chairs, this isn’t pioneer living but rather 21st Century comfort.
After a long day playing in the South Platte River, which offers floating, fishing, swimming, splashing and sunset-watching, guests return to their well-appointed tents for an evening around the fire or curled up on a comfy bed with a good book.
Tents come equipped with everything needed for an overnight stay including wine opener, reading material, river tubes, beach towels, bug repellent, lighter and lantern. Meals can be prepared al fresco at the campsite or guests can head over to the fort for dinner at Hank’s Bar & Grill.
This restaurant, located behind the fort in a beautiful barn, serves delicious hamburgers with comfort food sides such as potato salad, mac ‘n’ cheese, corn on the cob, baked beans and coleslaw.
Pack the propane grill and eggs to whip up breakfast or head to Butter My Biscuit Cafe, just six minutes away in Kersey. Service is fast and the food is delicious.
The yurts share porta potties that are located slightly behind the campsites. Yurts start at $75 a night and pets are allowed for a fee. Go to PlatteRiverFort.com for more details, including photos of each yurt.
On the mountainside between Aspen and Carbondale is Cedar Ridge Ranch. This scenic and working ranch is home to horses, cows, pigs, chickens, alpacas and more. Glamping guests are encouraged to take a farm tour during their stay.
A glamping destination like no other, the view of Mount Sopris through the flaps of the Safari Tent is spectacular. The name of the other glamping tent, Star Gazer, indicates that without light interference from a city, the stars seem to shine extra bright on the ranch.
In fact, Cedar Ridge Ranch is partnering with astronomer Brian White to offer stargazing experiences at the ranch. It’s the first stargazing/glamping program of its kind in Colorado. Guests will enjoy everything from Star Parties to lessons on How to Buy and How to Use a Telescope.
Nothing has been overlooked in the Safari Tent. It is bedecked with a four-poster king-size bed, sofa, electricity, refrigerator, cold and hot water cooler, a French press and coffee. Guests can relax on the covered deck overlooking lush pastures.
The Stargazer Tent can host up to four guests and includes three beds, a snuggly couch, refrigerator and a French press with coffee. No one roughs it at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
The ranch also has a private yurt that’s large enough to easily accommodate a family dining area. It’s excellent for a girls’ getaway or family vacation.
The ranch’s location, 31 miles from Aspen, 16 miles from Glenwood Springs and six miles from Carbondale, means everything is available from hiking to hot springs to shopping. The incredible dining scene in Carbondale, which includes the notable Allegria Italian Restaurant, can’t be missed.
Although the region offers a lot of activities, being on a ranch has advantages. Guests can book trail rides, do yoga with alpacas or learn to felt. There’s also a farm store filled with bounty from Cedar Ridge Ranch such as alpaca fiber items and farm grown meat.
The three glamping sites are located around a small pond and adjacent to a cabin that is also available for rent. There are two sharable outdoor privies that have hot rain-style showers, flushing toilets and porcelain sinks.
Glamping is where camping and luxury meet, and that involves comfy blankets, beds and pillows.
A special magic permeates Cedar Ridge Ranch. Perhaps it is a sense of freedom—freedom to roam and freedom to think, not to mention the incredible vistas and cuddly animals. Learn more about this family farm at CedarRidgeRanch.com.
Glamping puts us under a spell, and it is the perfect anecdote to a stressful life. It requires us to slow down without giving up the creature comforts we’ve come to expect. The two—relaxation and luxury—blend effortlessly at places like Platte River Fort Resort and Cedar Ridge Ranch.