Glamping - Enhanced Camping in Alberta
Glamping - Enhanced Camping in Alberta
Experience the wilderness with added comfort and style
Camping can be one of those things that’s better as an idea than in reality. Sometimes the business of camping just isn’t as much fun as it should be, or maybe it’s just the lumpy, cramped sleeping arrangements on the ground. There’s also the annual gear assembly and the forgotten essential item, which can prove more than just an inconvenience when you’re in Alberta’s backcountry. Honey I forgot the axe…
Well, time for a new spin on all that.
Glamping – glamour camping, posh camping or comfort camping. Call it what you will, they all mean the same thing. And exactly what is that, you may ask? Imagine camping without the leaky air mattresses or sleeping bags with broken zippers. Think of a proper bed, with sheets, a wooden floor, comfy deck chairs, a heater perhaps, maybe a fridge and of course a gas barbecue. In some cases, other people may even do the cooking. Now that’s our idea of luxury and now you don’t have to be a celebrity to go glamping. Remember Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds’ secret wedding near Tofino? A handful of guests were flown in to an exclusive resort setting with luxury tents furnished with Persian rugs and Egyptian cotton sheets. Well, envy no more because you can now find a modest version of comfort camping and enjoy tenting in the great Alberta outdoors with all the comforts of home (but without those nagging paparazzi.)
One way to start is by heading to Dinosaur Provincial Park to stay in one of three premium Alberta campsites, secreted away from the main campground, overlooking the Red Deer River. Sturdy canvas wall-tents come with a private deck and chairs, fridge, stove, wooden floors and proper raised beds and mattresses upon which to toss your own sleeping bag. A heater guarantees you’ll never be cold. Windows provide good ventilation in case it gets too hot. A few electrical outlets are there for any little extras you might want to bring along. Tents come with kitchen supplies as well as tables and chairs. You’re only responsible for your sleeping bag, clothes and food. Needless to say there’s a cost involved in this luxury. The tents, which sleep four, cost $100.00 per night ($120 for river view) plus a small booking fee, which is significantly more than the nearby regular campsites. Still, it’s on par or less than most Alberta hotels or motels with a lot more fun attached. Dinosaur Provincial Park comfort camping sites can be reserved in advance and are available from May to September.
Deluxe camping is also on offer through companies such as The Canadian Rockies Deluxe Camping Expedition. Designed for families with kids, this type of expedition features large 4 and 6 person tents which are used to house no more than two adults. Inflatable beds sit on raised platforms covered in 400 thread-count sheets and can be adjusted to individual preference. Tents are furnished with sisal rugs, nightstands and lanterns and luxury bath goodies. Campers are kept busy over five nights and six days with activities such as exploring the Icefields, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, fossil hunting, and everything else the Alberta outdoors has to offer. The only job for campers is to enjoy themselves while guides handle the set-up, tear down and cooking everyday.
Finally, the original comfort camping in Alberta has to be tipi (or teepee) camping. There are several tipi outfitters, both on the scenic plains and in the mountains of Alberta. If you’ve never stayed in a tipi, you’re in for a treat. The nomadic design fuses elegance, practicality and native spirituality, through hand-painted motifs. Many comfortably sleep 4-6 people and outfitters offer beds or cots and sleeping bags. We chatted with Indian Creek’s Deborah Cardinal about their new tipi site on the Kootenay Plains, located on the eastern edge of the Rockies region. “In addition to tipi camping, my husband and I plan to make trail riding, mountain bikes and guided hikes available to clients. We’ll have our outfitter tent there so you can cook your own food or order camp-style meals.” Deborah is skilled at traditional beadwork, so if you are interested in a more cultural experience, she’s more than happy to pass on this craft around the campfire, while her husband can share the rich history of this area. At night, you’ll be sleeping in tipis of the same design as those in the movie Dances with Wolves, which was shot in the Alberta Rockies.
Of course, if you prefer you can also enjoy do-it-yourself glamping at one of many Alberta campsites. This is about packing the van with essential comforts and driving to the campsite. A trip to any camping store can set you up nicely with collapsible chairs, folding camp cots and inflatable mattresses and a cooler. A portable propane barbeque or Coleman stove means fresh coffee, bacon and any variety of gourmet meals are possible. A tarp of some sort is always a good idea, creating a sheltered space where you can sit, eat, or play cards, whatever the weather. Bring your favourite pillow, perhaps a duvet and don’t forget the coffee and magazines. (What wine goes with gourmet hot dogs anyway?) It may not be Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds’ extreme camping luxury, but it can be closer to home than you might think.
Pat Barford and Justine Cooke
Bring your favourite pillow, perhaps a duvet and don’t forget the coffee and magazines.
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