17 Unique Ways to Go Camping
From vintage trailers in the desert, covered wagons in the West to fire towers in Blue Ridge Mountains, check out these crazy cool ways to spend an evening close to nature.
Photo By: Nick Simonite
Photo By: Nick Simonite
Photo By: Nick Simonite
Photo By: Walter Bibikow
Photo By: Jason Wynn
Photo By: unknown
Photo By: JASON WYNN
Photo By: Kelly Smith-Trimble
Located in Marfa, Texas, El Cosmico is an eclectic 21-acre spread where the accommodations include restored vintage trailers, tepees, safari tents and a 22-foot yurt. You can also choose to pitch your own tent on the campgrounds for $30. This 1946 Imperial Mansion includes king-sized and twin beds, a full kitchen and a cedar deck. Trailers start at $120.
After you spend the day exploring Marfa, settle in to your very own time capsule via a 1951 Kozy Coach caravan. This 27-footer is outfitted with a full-bed, an outdoor-shower and AC, both of which you’ll appreciate during the summer months. We personally ga-ga for the Buster Bluth hand chair that adorns the cedar plank deck, the perfect perch for catching the storied Marfa Lights.
Pow Wow Wow Wow
The 22’ round tepee has plenty of a space for sleeping or rain dancing around the fire. Tepees, yurts and tents share the communal amenities, which include bathrooms, an outdoor kitchen, a hammock grove and the lobby house. Cosmic dogs are always welcome at El Cosmico.
Conestoga Ranch sits on the northern border of Utah just below Wyoming and Idaho and enjoys majestic mountain views and recreation on Bear Lake. It’s also where you can hang up your spurs and sleep in a covered wagon. There’s room for as many as six or bring a group of friends and form your own settlers party. Couples wagons start at around $110.
Indoor Campground in Germany
Throw out all your preconceived notions of Eastern European architecture and stark minimalism and say hello to BaseCamp Bonn, a youth hostel in Bonn, Germany. Located in a warehouse the size of an airplane hangar, the indoor campground is made up of a wacky assortment of themed caravans (The Oprah, the Drag Queen), Airstreams and other “oddities” where one can rest their head. It’s also got a common picnic area and snack bar.
Ground Control to Major Bonn
Out of the creative mind of a movie set designer came BaseCamp Bonn, the giant indoor campground/youth hostel with 16 wildly themed vintage caravans, two-night sleepers, two Airstreams and what they call “oddities,” like this tent atop a Trabant. It’s like being on one kooky Sid & Marty Krofft adventure (millennials, look it up) with beds and coffee and alcohol. Sign us up. Trips start at roughly $45 a night.
The Thorny Mountain Fire Tower in West Virginia’s Seneca State Park is one of the closest places to heaven you’ll ever find. It sits at one of the state’s highest points and one must climb 69 steep steps to get there. Relax on the catwalk; enjoy the misty taste of moonshine and drift off to sleep. Rates are a calming $75 a night.
Ruby's Inn at Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park is made up of eight large tepees with plenty of room for the Lone Ranger, Tonto, Silver and Scout because there’s nothing in them, not even electricity. So bring your gear and seven other friends. At $62 a night, that’s about $8 pp. For that price, you can pick up the first round at Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill located just steps from your bivouac.
The Shady Dell
Set your alarm to wake up in kitsch heaven, which is apparently located in the tiny town of Bisbee, AZ. The Shady Dell trailer park is made up of nine fully-restored vintage caravans and one cherry-red 1947 Chris Craft yacht. So, pack your poodle skirt, but not Fifi. Not pets allowed. Rates start at $85 a night and for that price you can afford a dog sitter and a quick trip to nearby Mexico for supplies.
Kevin Costner danced with wolves; well, you can sleep with squirrels. Located in the North Georgia Mountains, Unicoi State Park offers campers offers a unique way to sleep amongst nature via 16 raised and covered platforms. Keep in mind that you’ll commune with nature and your neighbors. Bring appropriate camping gear, earplugs and three other birds as each nest sleeps 4.
Located on a stretch of pristine land between the hills of North Devon, UK and above the Atlantic Ocean is Loveland Farms with its five geometric domes ($138 a night). Each raised pod is equipped to meet your basic needs including a unique “eco loo.” Once you’ve stopped gaping at it, head down to the beach. Dogs are welcome in the pod.
Long lost brother of Sam, Yosemite Yurts is fast becoming the hottest attraction at the Yosemite Lakes RV park. The five electrified yurts have a full-size futon and a bunk bed with a full lower bed outfitted with linens. There’s also a microwave, a mini fridge and a coffeemaker. No reason to go too extreme, is there? You’ll pay a little extra for your comforts with prices starting at $149.
Dirty Back Roads
There are no tin roofs rusted at Kate’s Lazy Desert – that’s because they’re all fully restored aluminum Airstreams. The eponymously named haven of kitsch is located in the Mojave High Desert five miles from Joshua Tree National Park. Your hostess is, of course, Kate Pierson of the B52s though don’t expect her to bring you towels, a scorpion on your pillow, that’s another thing. Rates start at $175; desert critters at no charge.
In a Van Down by the River
At Sun Lotus Yoga Retreat on Vancouver Island, you’re invited to commune with nature, others and sleep in a bus. There are also tepees and covered outdoor sleeping pads as well, but the converted “hippie” bus fascinates us. Situated amongst lush flowers and a lovely paddling lake, it has a sleeping loft and full living area down below. Namaste and beep, beep. Prices vary according to your spiritual needs.
Get Yer Rocks Off
Yurtle and his friends like to mosey on down to Turtle Rock Hollow rustic 43-acre camping resort located in the middle of Upstate New York on the south end of Honeoye Lake. Christened Hiawatha by the owners, an 18-foot tepee is one of TRH’s main attractions. This tall fellow sleeps 6-7 adults on the raised floor. Bring your sleeping bag and tuck in for the night after campfire Kumbaya. $70 for four and pet turtles, pet rocks and dogs allowed.
Cover Your Wagons
Not only is Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort located on 300+ acres near Santa Barbara, but there are also covered wagons, safari tents, tepees that start at $79 a night. There’s mini golf, hiking trails, 30 horse corrals, a pool, campfires and plenty to keep everyone in the family out of trouble. So, get along little doggies; pets are welcome in most of the structures.
With its wildly inventive and creative upcycling, this converted double decker bus would be less about camping/roughing; however, it’s located in the woods of East Sussex. Relatively close to the hip town of Brighton, it lies in southern England on the English Channel. The Big Green Bus sleeps six in three separate bedrooms and boasts a wood-fired hot tub and fire pit. Rates are roughly $231 a night and pets can hop on and hop off.
Sleep Like the Lorax
Want to really get away from it all? Why not sleep in a tree? The guides at the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute in Eugene will help guide you on your climb up some of Willamette National Forest’s 200-foot Douglas-firs and red alders. We suggest that when considering sleeping in a tree, think about waking up in said tree.
Want the ability to sleep anywhere? Over a river? No problem. At the remotest of beaches? You got it. All you need is three trees as an anchor, a little chutzpah and around $450 for the Tentsile tent. It was designed as the tree house you can take anywhere.
Way up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits LeConte Lodge, which is a unique place to sleep for many reasons. The lodge sits at an elevation of approximately 6,400 feet making it the highest public lodge in the eastern U.S. and it is the only permanent structure where one can sleep in the Great Smoky Mountains.
There are no roads leading up to LeConte Lodge. To stay in one of the historic log cabins you'll have to hike. There a five trails to chose from, the shortest is a steep, but beautiful 5.5 miles. Llamas are used to carry fresh supplies to the lodge three times a week. You can't catch a ride, but when you get to the top, you can enjoy the food and wine that the llamas trekked up the mountain.
On Top of Old Smoky
LeConte is open from March through November. Reservations fill up fast, so plan in advance. Prices are based on your meal options, which are served family style. Cabins start at $140 while lodges go for as much as $1,100.