Family camping experiences
If you ever went to summer camp, you no doubt have fond memories of days filled with outdoor activity followed by nights around the campfire gazing up at the stars. You can bring that wonder back for your family — with a much more comfortable sleeping arrangement than you had in your younger days — with these getaways. They’re close enough to get to without needing your passport, but they’re full of enough magic to transport you back in time.
Dunton Hot Springs
The hand-built cabins have been authentically and lovingly restored from originals often built by miners who made this frontier town in southwestern Colorado their home. If that’s not rustic enough for you, head a few miles down the road to Dunton River Camp, where tents with full en-suite bathrooms dot 500 acres of meadow and forest on a former cattle ranch. Each lodging option offers the chance for mountaineer and rock climbing, fly-fishing and exploring some of the Southwest’s best preserved archaeological sites. You’ll have earned that soak in the eponymous hot springs by the end of the day.
Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch
Go wild in style at The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyo. Through its front gates lie 30,000 unspoiled acres, where you can reclaim a sense of independence while riding trails, driving cattle, fly-fishing or hiking 12,000-foot Medicine Bow Peak. The adventures at this all-inclusive, authentic working cattle ranch are near-endless. Accommodations include 42 luxurious, timbered rooms, with open-hearth fireplaces and plush amenities. Families can spread out in 19th-century, restored log cabins with decks, full kitchens and expansive views, or stay in the upscale Magee Homestead, exclusively for adults ages 21 and over.
Most locations are in the Mountain West, but East Coasters can also find the upscale safari-style tents at Acadia and Great Smoky Mountains. Strategically centered around national parks and monuments, the campsites combine the best of the great outdoors with luxury accommodations. Most tents have private bathrooms built-in, and there are options for the kids to have their own tent right next door to you. Stargazer tents even have a viewing window above the king-size bed for you to marvel at the night sky from under the covers. Adventure concierges at each location get you set up to make the most of your surroundings during your stay.
The resort was already an oasis among 600 acres of red rock country before it introduced Camp Sarika, a cluster of 10 canvas-topped pavilion accommodations each with its own plunge pool. The camp has a communal lounge, along with its own restaurant and pool to form a self-contained retreat. Guests still have access to the facilities and activities on offer at the main lodge, which include taking to the skies in a hot-air balloon or helicopter, water adventures on Lake Powell and exploring the slot canyons in and around Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Lodge at Blue Sky
It’s just 35 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport but set on its own 3,500-acre property full of activity no matter the season. Winter brings snowshoeing, sleigh rides and heliskiing, with fishing, biking and high-altitude hiking in warmer months. Little Vaquero’s Club mixes the education and adventure of a summer camp for kids 4-12. Older kids and adults can try their hand at geocaching and axe throwing, ride horses or do yoga in a mountain forest. Gather back together as a family at the end of the day for some S’mores around the campfire. Just like you remember.