Yellowstone Under Canvas
I think it’s helpful to know that I approached this with a healthy dose of skepticism. Truth be told, I’m no stranger to the outdoors. I’ve backpacked, carried all my clothes and food on my back, and slept in a tent for days. I’m a tough cookie (and apparently a grandmother at heart…do people even say that anymore?).
But a part of me cringes at the word “glamping.” As in somehow my badge of honor would be stripped away from some of the most grueling hikes with thousands of feet of elevation gain, if I was ever to actually “glamp.”
But nonetheless, there’s the designer in me that was in it for the experience. For the landscape, for the photos, and most of all for a chance to sleep in a bed after a few days of “real” camping.
This summer, Brian and I hit the road on a 10 day road trip with our destination pointed at Big Sky, Montana. A friend of ours was getting married and with flight prices being what they were, we decided to drive, making a trip of it along the way.
We headed toward Grand Teton National Park, doing the Paintbrush Canyon to Cascade Canyon Loop, which Backpacker magazine defines as a “challenging, 18.1-mile backcountry trek” and quite frankly I think that’s putting it lightly. It was probably one of the most difficult hikes I’ve done to date, reaching the only campsite we could get a permit at after about 13 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
So suffice it to say I was well primed for our glamping experience by the time we headed to Yellowstone. Happy to mosey along with the tourists and stay on the boardwalk as directed. Happy to sit and wait for a geyser that may or may not show up in the next three hours. I could get on board with this.
If you’ve never been to Yellowstone, it feels like to walking on a different planet. The geysers, bubbling hot springs and mud pots, coupled with the constant smell of sulfur, there isn’t another place quite like it.
And despite my earlier skepticism, I’ve never been so happy to have a real bed to sleep in than I was that night. I delighted in our large canvas tent, loving the feeling of being in a hotel room, without having to sacrifice being outdoors. I didn’t mind the short walk to the bathrooms or the pull cord in the shower — it felt like part of the experience — not quite camping, not quite luxury.
It was brisk at night. I was thrilled that we had our own wood stove in our tent to keep us warm. Even more thrilled that we didn’t manage to burn our tent down. I woke up a few times that to tend to the fire, quickly hopping back under the covers before I got too cold.
Laying in bed the next morning as the tent glowed brighter, I laid there thinking. I think this is actually my happy place — the best of both worlds — a well-crafted experience with a bit of outdoors and a dash of creature comforts. A hot shower, a bed, and a fire to keep us warm. Life was simple that night. It was exactly what we needed.