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Inviting Gentle Camping or Glamping

Vast views, pines, junipers, oaks, grasslands and large tents await guests at Prado Grand Canyon. Photo by Starla S. Collins

Summer has arrived, inviting Northern Arizona residents and visitors to get away from the daily grind and spend time in the great outdoors. Many pack their camping gear and head to the lakes, streams, forest and meadows to commune with nature, sleep under the stars and spend time with friends and family.

But what if you do not own a motorhome, camper or any camping gear? And what if the idea of pitching a tent and sleeping on the ground is just overwhelming and maybe a bit scary? Perhaps you want to camp without all the effort? The answer: Glamping.

Glamping, or glamorous camping, is for those who like the idea of camping but who may not have the means or the desire to “rough it.” Glamping combines roughing it and being pampered into one experience.

“Glamp” grounds provide guests a structure, such as cabins, tents or yurts, to stay in. Most provide beds. Some have heaters for warmth; others require layers of blankets. Some bring you coffee and breakfast in bed; others provide a do-it-yourself stove. All offer a chance to get outdoors and away from noise and tasks of home and work. Depending on location and amenities, prices range from under $50 to $300-plus per night. Some operate year-round, while others are only open during warmer seasons.

Flagstaff locals Richard and Sandra Fernandez opened Prado Grand Canyon in May 2016. Situated between Williams, the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, Prado (which means meadow) was born out of a desire to provide locals and visitors the opportunity to get outdoors, sit by a campfire and stare into the starry sky.

Prado Grand Canyon has five, 16-foot round canvas tents. Each tent is equipped with a queen bed and bedding, and other furniture. Twin mattresses can be brought in to accommodate one or two guests.

“The grounds and accommodations are simple,” Fernandez said. “We wanted to create a sense of peace and a connection to mother nature for our guests. We are on a dirt road, miles from the sounds of the city or interstate, we haul jugs of water and we don’t have electricity. We want to stay as close to nature and minimize the human impact on the environment. We provide the gear and the place for those who want to camp but may not have the means to do so.”

Fernandez said most of the campers they host are couples who are looking for a chance to get away. And at $130 a night, it is an affordable, no frills, no hassle option for families as well. Last year, most of Prado’s guests were from Germany. So far this year, all the guests have been Americans. Fernandez said most all reservations come through

“We love our national and international guests, but we really want the locals to have a getaway place. Rent one tent or rent the whole campground. Just come enjoy the great outdoors.”

Fernandez and his team provide guests a simple breakfast. They offer sack lunches and an authentic camping dinner to those who want to sit around the fire for dinner. Fernandez, known in the region for his culinary skills and fine restaurants, said dinner is new this year.

“I love to cook and create amazing dishes,” Fernandez said. “After several years of not being in the restaurant business, I realized how much I missed cooking for others. At the end of the season last year, I cooked dinner for the last 10 nights, and all our guests were thrilled to eat at camp. So, we decided to start offering dinner to our guests. What’s better than dinner around a campfire?”

The Shash Dine’ Eco-Retreat, located on the Navajo Nation, is an “off-grid” experience that gives campers a choice of cabins, tents or traditional Navajo Hogan. The area and the staff offer guests respectful and informative interaction about the Navajo culture.

Arizona Nordic Village (formerly Flagstaff Nordic Center), located 15 miles northwest of Flagstaff, offers small camping cabins that come with a double bed, twin bunk bed and a wood stove. Campers bring the rest. The Village also has yurts – circular, high-in-the-center tents with a door, window and wood stove. Yurts do not have running water or electricity; private restrooms are nearby. Some have beds; some do not. All offer the beauty of Northern Arizona.

Grand Canyon Under Canvas, located on 56 acres alongside old Route 66 in Williams, offers a more refined roughing experience with four-person canvas and wood tents and teepees. Each tent includes a bed and seating. The deluxe tents have private bathrooms with a shower and running water. Other accommodations require a short walk to shared bathroom facilities.

Looking for an experience that is out of the world? Consider the Amazing Stargazing Capsules in Sedona. Guests literally sleep in a giant clear plastic bubble that allows for an uninhibited view of the surroundings and the sky, without the worry of uninvited guests or weather.

For those who have the perfect location for a retreat or reunion but do not have the gear, Stout Tents will bring the experience to your location. From the tents to the beds to heaters. You find the spot and they will bring the accommodations.

Glamping: Choose the location; choose the amenities; the stars, dirt, breezes and peace are included. QCBN

By Starla S. Collins





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