Once upon a time, when I was young and foolish, my new bride and I went camping. Now I must tell you that the love of my life is not at heart an outdoor sort but I suppose out of sheer adoration for me, her new husband, she decided to try the camping thing anyway.
It did not go well.
First there was the rainstorm, which happened to coincide with the putting up of the tent.
Then there were the bugs … and the rain…and the sand… and – oh, enough of that. You get the idea.
What we should have done was go “glamping” instead.
Glamping is short for “glamorous camping.” According to one glamping industry website it’s “where stunning nature meets modern luxury.” You’re in a tent of some sort, but that’s where the resemblance to ordinary camping ends.
Don’t let the word “tent” mislead you. A glamping tent is like a regular tent squared or cubed. It will be furnished (with real furniture!) and may also have amenities such as water, power, heaters, fans, sofas, chairs and so on – in other words, all the comforts of home. They just happen to be housed in a tent.
Put it that way and camping really starts to sound pretty good…even to a non-camper.
But luxurious or not, glamping is still spending the night in a tent in the woods – and that’s a large part of the reason for its appeal. It really does let you have it all. It’s wilderness and civilization all rolled into one.
North Georgia offers a number of different glamping opportunities. We don’t have nearly enough space to look at them all, but to give you an idea of what it’s like, here’s a look at two different takes on the glamping experience.
Luxury in the woods
Let’s start with the Martyn House in Ellijay, Ga. (themartynhouse.com), which offers a luxurious adults-only glamping adventure.
You may have heard of the Martyn House bed and breakfast, but owners Rick Lucas and JoAnn Antonelli took the B&B idea one step further when they added handmade sleeping tents from India.
“The owners came across one of those tents while traveling,” explains caretaker Alejandro (Alex) Cruz, “and brought it home and built a platform for it.”
At that time, glamping was “just becoming a thing,” Alex recalls. Eventually, three more of the Indian tents were added, bringing the current total to four. Each is unique, with luxury furnishings (no need to bring a sleeping bag) as well as water, electricity, and a private bath with a composting toilet.
Glamping in the state parks
Looking for a glamping opportunity to enjoy with the entire family? Then check out the yurt-based glamping opportunities available at a number of Georgia’s state parks.
“Glamping at a state park is a nice compromise if one person wants to go camping but the other wants a hotel,” says Kim Hatcher, Public Affairs coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division. “People really do seem to love it.”
State-park glamping is built around what Kim calls “yurt villages.” A yurt is a tent-like canvas and wood structure which sits on a platform – and while it may look like a tent on the outside, it’s anything but once you walk through the door.
Amenities at state park glamping sites typically include bunk beds (with a bottom bed that folds out into a full-sized mattress), a futon, furniture, fans, heaters, a pack porch, and a picnic table out front. The individual yurts are typically sited around a central bath house. Kids are welcome, but pets are not permitted in the yurts. You’ll need to bring your own linens (or sleeping bags) and pillows as well as a cooler.
With several state park glamping possibilities nearby, it’s not hard to find one that’s right for you and your family. For example, Tugaloo State Park on Lake Hartwell is a great choice if you enjoy boating. The park has six yurts (including one that’s handicapped accessible), each large enough for six adults.
Another good state park glamping possibility is Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Ga., located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain in the extreme northwest corner of the state. This park features 10 yurts (one handicapped accessible) and is a favorite with those who like to hike, with thousand-foot-deep canyons, waterfalls, cascading creeks and abundant wildlife.
The list of state parks offering yurt-based glamping also includes Fort Yargo State Park (Winder) with six yurts, Red Top Mountain State Park (Acworth) with one handicapped accessible yurt, Sweetwater Creek State Park (Lithia Springs) with 10 yurts (one handicapped accessible), and (south of Atlanta) High Falls State Park (with six yurts).
You can learn more about glamping in yurts at Georgia’s state parks at gastateparks.org/uniqueaccommodations.