The great outdoors! Tents! A roaring campfire! Fine linens and full amenities! Is this camping? Not quite. We’re talking glamping — a sort of “glamorous camping” that combines the best elements of camping with many of the amenities of a hotel or fine resort. And North Carolina —with its misty Smokey Mountain range, rolling green hills, and bubbling waterways — has long been a favorite of campers for generations. No surprise, then, that camping’s next big thing has taken hold in the Tar Heel state. So, this year, why not do yourself a solid and leave the buggy campsite behind – try glamping in North Carolina instead. And if you’re new to the glamping game, no worries. We’ve provided a few ideas on where to go, and what to expect so you can make your next glamping trip one to remember.
Asheville Glamping, Asheville
Ashville Glamping (AG) is a 15-acre private property nestled within the Blue Ridge foothills, just a hop, skip, and a jump from its namesake town (for more about Asheville, go here). Privacy and serenity play a large part in AG’s glamping ethos. In fact, the site’s address is only provided to registered guests; oglers and drop-ins checking out the luxe properties are not encouraged. The site’s 13 properties include yurts, vintage trailers, geodomes, and treehouses. Rates run from $125-$395 per night and most are booked nearly a year out. Our pick? The fabulous Dome 3. Although domes can’t legally be plumbed (read: they have no running water), that doesn’t mean they aren’t luxurious. Dome 3 will meet your expectations and then some.
With over 1,300 square-feet, crisp white walls, and 20-foot ceilings, Dome 3 is a dazzling, if not otherworldly spot. Think big igloo in space. But the beautiful views of surrounding mountains (much of the wall space is actually glass), contemporary furnishings, and wrap-around deck quickly bring you back to the best comforts of earth. The dome includes two queen beds and a sleeping loft — accessed via the attached stairway and nine-foot slide for an alternate route back down (yes, adults can use it).
Unlike other properties on the site, Dome 3 comes with its own outdoor Porta John (think luxury, not Lollapalooza) should you need a quick nighttime visit. A shared bathhouse with hot showers and private toilets is also available nearby. A fridge, outlets, and a Keurig round out its amenities. Although it is pricey at $350-$395 per night, it’s glamping at its most glamorous. Do it — just because.
Falling Waters Nantahala, Nantahala
Nestled in North Carolina’s Smokey Mountains and alongside the magnificent Nantahala River Gorge, Falling Waters Nantahala offers premier access to a smorgasbord of outdoor sports: Whitewater rafting, ziplining, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, and more. The property spans 22 pristine acres with two ponds, a waterfall, and views of Fontana Lake.
Lodging here is in a Mongolian-style yurt, a cozy round structure (16 feet in diameter), with Douglas fir- latticed framing covered in weatherproof canvas tenting. Each yurt comes with French doors leading to a private deck, domed open skylight, finished tongue-and-groove pine flooring, rustic furnishings, and country-themed textiles. After a full day kayaking on the river, stretch out on the queen-sized bed to ponder North Carolina’s natural beauty. Each yurt also includes a futon (for two additional sleepers), small refrigerator, radio/CD player, space heater, coffee maker, bedding and towels, and a charcoal grill. Full bathrooms (shower, toilet, and vanity) are private and lockable, but shared among the Yurt Village visitors (there are eight yurts). Rates run about $100 per night.
While Yogi Bear doesn’t necessarily fit with the whole glamping vibe, stick with us on this one. Built on the ruins of an old Girl Scout camp, Bostic’s Jellystone Park is a holiday destination ideally suited for, you guessed it, families. Pools, playgrounds, and a multitude of other water and sports attractions are on site to keep the kids amused. Interestingly, however, Yogi offers glamping for the rest of us: luxury tents and treetop cabins.
We love the – with a clean modern look including finished pine flooring, a queen bed with yummy linens, comfy sleeper sofa (sleeps two), small dining area, microwave, smart TV, mini fridge, and AC/heating, you’d swear you were a million miles from the closest mini-golf course. Oh yes, and your own private detached bathroom is included. Rates start at $168 per night.
Emberglow Outdoor Resort, Mill Spring
Emberglow Outdoor Resort is a newer player on the scene (grand opening is in March 2020) but it is sure to be a favorite of the glamping glitterati. Carefully designed and constructed with an elevated glamping experience in mind, Emberglow offers a host of glamping accommodations: tiny homes, vintage campers, yurts, treehouses, and glamping pods, about 20 options in all. Amenities here are resort-grade and include a gorgeous pool, sports fields, nature trails, and sand volleyball, among others.
We suggest going with the vintage 1971 Airstream Sovereign camper. Completely remodeled and updated, the Sovereign sports a Swedish modern interior with light wood, rich neutrals, and a tiled bathroom. Skylights above the queen bed are perfect for gazing at the starry sky as you fall into a deep and restful slumber. There is a kitchenette (with a sink, microwave, and fridge), eating area, AC/heat, a small deck, picnic table, and shared fire pit. Rates start at two nights for $204.
For more information about glamping in North Carolina, visit the Glamping Hub online.