15 Amazing Alternative Camp Sites: Yurts, Vintage Trailers, and Bell Tents

El Cosmico Vintage Trailer

Somewhere between a skyrise hotel and a bivouac on a cliffside, there’s a yurt with your name on it. Or a safari tent. Or a vintage travel trailer. The upside: no setup required, amenities like hot showers and cooking options, and all the rustic outdoorsiness or retro camping charm you could want. The downside? None that I can think of.

Call it luxury camping or even glamping if you must. Here are 15 awesome alternative camping spots across the United States. At their most fancy they offer hot towels, in-tent massages, and breakfasts prepared by professional chefs. At the other end of the scale you have hike-in tents a few notches up from pitching your own.  

Each alternative camp spots is smack in the midst of natural beauty — forest, ocean, desert, meadow. All are unique and offer the rare experience of roughing it in the smoothest way possible.

Read on for 15 camp spots currently hosting yurts, vintage trailers, and/or bell tents (alphabetized by state).

Alpenglow Luxury Camping • Glacier View, AK

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One of the lead adventure guides from adventure tour company MICA Guides built a sweet little spot where you can stay after you’ve taken whichever MICA tour suits your fancy (hiking, glacier trekking, climbing).  

The spot’s called Alpenglow and you’ll stay in one of their luxury canvas tents, each complete with a queen bed, heaps of blankets, and large deck with two adirondack chairs. Restroom facilities are a short walk away — as is the secluded cedar hot tub and common area with nightly fires in the fire pit.

Alpenglow is about 2 hours NE of Anchorage and it’s open June through early September (these are tents in Alaska, after all). You can stay with or without doing a MICA tour but if you book together, you get a discount on your Alpenglow accommodations.

Book it.

Orca Island Cabins • Humpy Cove, AK

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Want to stay on a private island? In a yurt? With whales outside your door? Of course you do. Orca Island Cabins offers eight solar powered yurts complete with private bathrooms (shower, composting toilet), little kitchens and waterfront decks.

A queen bed and futon sleeps two to four people per yurt and the use of binoculars for whale watching, as well as kayak, rowing, and SUP gear is included in the price (but food is not, bring your own and cook it up). Getting there involves a scenic one hour cruise from the harbor in Seward and the yurts are available from May through mid-September.  

Book it.

The Shady Dell • Bisbee, AZ

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It’s a proven fact: vintage trailers from the 1950s are 375% cooler than modern trailers. And this little vintage themed oasis in Arizona has ten vintage trailers, giving it a nearly 4000% coolness rating (a ranking we just made up).

Each trailer (including one bus and one boat) have been fully restored to their mid-twentieth century glory and each comes equipped with dishes, coffee mugs, percolator, fridge, A/C and heat. A few of the trailers have ensuite sinks and toilets, or hit the shower and restroom facilities just a few feet from the trailers.  

Cooking happens outdoors in their charcoal BBQs or head up the road to dine in Bisbee, the former copper mining town with lots of throwback charm.

Book it.

TreeBones Resort • Big Sur, CA

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The California Coast remains one of the more scenic places on the planet and Big Sur might be the scenic-est. This yurt village is perched just above Route 1, right at the ocean’s edge. Full ocean-view yurts have king beds, while the partial-view yurts have queens. Each one has a sink, table and chairs inside along with big decks outside from which to enjoy the views.  

TreeBones also offers three insanely unique sleep options. There’s the luxury autonomous tent on the edge of the property that looks like a colossal white cocoon. Or you can opt to sleep animal-like in a human-sized nest or twig hut.

If you’re just in the area and want to stop by for lunch or dinner, they serve up meals twice daily in their Wild Coast Restaurant, using food grown in their own organic garden and on nearby farms.

Book it.   

Never Summer Nordic Yurts • Gould, COunnamed

This family owned business operates a network of yurts and cabins in the Colorado State Forest State Park. The 14 different accommodations are found throughout the park on old roads and trails. Some of the yurts and cabins you can just drive up to in your Ford Focus, others will require 4WD or even a bit of a hike to access.

There’s no electricity. No running water. No concierge. And you bring your own bedding. What you get instead of all that is the chance to be fully submerged in a totally wild, vitally natural backcountry with views and smells and stars that won’t leave your brain for years — all without having to pitch a tent.

Book it.   

Dunton River Camp • Dolores, CO

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Set on a 500 acre cattle ranch dating back to the late 1800s, Dunton River Camp features 8 luxury safari/prospector style tents on wooden platforms. Each tent has its own bathroom with 6-foot soaker tubs, on-demand water heaters, and heated towels.

The original farmhouse is about 20 feet from the Dolores River and it’s where you’ll enjoy a new menu each day, and where you’ll gather by the fire pit to enjoy evening cocktails. Head to the spa tent for treatments and/or private yoga.

As you may have gathered from the list of amenities, this is not the least expensive option on our list. But all meals (local, organic) and drinks (boozy and non) plus mountain bike usage and sauna access are all included.

Book it.

Sequin Tree Dwellings • Georgetown, MEsequin

Like 99% of all kids, you wished you had a treehouse growing up. And like 98% of all kids, you didn’t have one. Head out to southwestern Maine and finally get your wish of sleeping in a tree. Sequin offers three treehouses, all with bedrooms, kitchens, living spaces, full bathrooms, screened-in porches, and big decks overlooking the nearby Back River. One of the three treehouses even has a hot tub perched 18 feet in the air.

They’re closed in February and March when even the provided electric heaters might have a hard time keeping you warm. But any other month of the year you can live in the trees and then borrow a kayak or canoe to go exploring.  

Book it.

Collective Yellowstone • Gallatin Gateway, MT

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Collective Retreats runs five different luxury glamping locations — two in New York, one in Texas, one in Colorado, and this one, about an hour from Yellowstone National Park in Montana. The Summit Tents they provide feature one king-sized or two full-sized beds, full shower and flush toilet, plus a big wood-burning stove for heat (that someone graciously lights for you each evening).

You get a complimentary breakfast each morning and can also add on boxed lunches to take with you on horseback rides, nearby fly-fishing trips, or mountain bike excursions.

And if all that isn’t enough, you’re right next door to Yellowstone National Park, quite easily one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Book it.

Junebug Retro Resort • Asheville, NC

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Out in North Carolina, in a valley, across a stretch of river from an organic farm lies 50 acres that looks like something out of the 1950s. Restored vintage trailers complete the effect with 16-foot Shasta Airflytes, a 40 foot Spartanette Imperial land ship, and many trailers in between. All have fridge, microwave, and A/C and a heap ton of mid-last-century charm.

The property is just 12 minutes from downtown Asheville, one of the new epicenters of cool and renting out the whole property for a wedding or reunion is an option.  

Book it.

Gatherwild Ranch • Germantown, NY

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What was once a giant apple orchard in the Hudson Valley is now home to Gatherwild, a 15 acre property with three Bell tents, a yurt, and one tipi + van for your overnight stay (three seasons of the year). There’s an acre-sized organic vegetable/medicinal herb garden and the whole 15 acre property is yours to roam around on.

Shared accommodations include composting toilets and solar shower, plus an outdoor (covered) kitchen with fridge, stove, and grill.

It’s a place built for relaxing, unwinding, and appreciating the awesomeness. Recommended “activities” include stargazing, grassy picnics, hanging out with the free range chickens, and hanging out by the bonfire. Yes, please.

Book it.

The Eco Camp • Swanton, OH

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This year and next the Eco Camp will be set up at Bluegrass Campground, situated in the Oak Openings oak savanna ecosystem in Ohio. They have four Lotus Belle tents on offer, each equipped with queen mattresses, charcoal grills, kitchen stuff and solar lights that’ll charge your electronics.  

A stay in a tent also grants you access to the Bluegrass Campground store and swimming pond. Then there’s Oak Openings for hiking, the Maumee river for kayaking, and 63 mile long Wabash Cannonball trail for biking. Big bonus: Eco Camp is one of the cheaper accommodations on this list.

Book it.    

The Vintages Trailer Resort • Willamette Valley, OR

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The trailer park my grandmother lived in for a while was depressing as hell. This trailer resort is not. The Vintages Trailer Resort lives inside the larger 14 acre Willamette Wine Country RV Park (the kind you drive your RV to and stay a night or two, not the kind you live in forever, or even long enough to unsettle your grandchildren).

The Vintages features 33 trailers in 21 different styles — Airstreams, Shastas, and various other throwback camp vessels. Once you’re there, grill up dinner in a charcoal grill, take a dip in the pool, play some lawn games, or reserve one of their cruiser bikes to pedal out to vineyards for wine tasting and view ogling.

Book it.

Greenbrier Campground Bell Tents • Gatlinburg, TN

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Sleep next to a river in a tent, but not on the ground and no pitching required. Greenbrier Campground is in Gatlinburg Tennessee, the city that serves as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. In addition to usual campground fare (RV spots, cabins for rent and places to pitch your tent) they offer four pet-friendly, riverfront bell tents.

The tents are set up on wooden platforms with decks and have water and electric. The queen-sized mattresses are pillow top, but you bring your own bedding, and there’s a bath house a few yards away. Things to do include swimming in the swimming hole, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and heading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just a half mile away.

Book it.  

El Cosmico • Marfa, TX

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Here’s the park that inspired this whole post. After a write up on GearMoose, I had to find all possible cool places like it in the US of A. Situated in artsy as hell Marfa, Texas, El Cosmico has vintage trailers, safari tents, yurts, and tipis for your sleeping pleasure and they are all frankly beautiful.

Restored to top glamour, their trailers feature marine-varnished birch interiors, retro furnishings, a stocked minibar, AC, fridge, kitchen supplies, and wireless radios (for connecting your iPhone, not tuning in the Ozzie and Harriet Radio Hour on AM).

The grounds of El Cosmico offer guests access to the provisions store, bath houses, a “hammock grove,” and a big outdoor kitchen with BBQs and picnic tables. For free, they throw in the legendary and inexplicable mystic lights of Marfa that have been attracting artists for decades now. Show up. Do nothing. Never want to leave.

Book it.

Sou’wester Lodge and Trailers • Seaview, WA

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On the southwestern edge of Washington state lies this gem of a resort. With a lodge, cabins, and vintage trailers, the Sou’wester resort is a three acre retreat just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean and the eight mile long Discovery Trail, a paved path winding through grassy dunes and forest.

They have 20 vintage trailers ranging from 16 to 40 feet long, some with kitchens and showers. The grounds have a Finnish sauna, an outdoor kitchen, an art gallery in a trailer, and an honor system store in the wrap-around porch of the lodge (food, drinks, and sundries are available by running a tab or dropping cash in the slot). Bikes, games, and VHS tapes are available to borrow during your stay in gorgeous land plunged back in time.

Book it.