Earlier this month our family spent a few days glamping in the Great Smokey Mountains. If sitting by a nightly campfire and sleeping under the stars appeals to you as much as it does to me then this is one way to experience a national park that you won’t soon forget. The most appealing aspect of a glamping experience is the opportunity to unplug from your computers and cell phones and live in and fully absorb the beauty of the national park you are visiting. In pandemic times it is the ideal family vacation because you are outdoor and mostly away from other people.
We booked our glamping adventure through a company called Under Canvas. Under Canvas provides safari-like accommodations at national parks all over the country (check here for a complete list of camp sites). This was our second adventure with them: our first stay was at Zion National Park two years ago. Each Under Canvas camp has a different feel that is unique to the park where you are staying. In the Great Smokey Mountains, there have tents in trees and in Zion National Park there are 360 views of the red rock landscape surrounding the camp.
The accommodations themselves are super family friendly. We reserved a deluxe safari tent with an adjacent tee pee which in hotel jargon is the equivalent to a one bedroom hotel suite. The deluxe safari tent included a king bed with nice linens and just the right blend of duvets and fleece blankets to adjust to warm days and cool night temperatures. Deluxe tents include a bathroom which is essentially a sink, toilet, and pull-chain shower in the back of your tent separated by a curtain. There is a very clean communal bathroom facility if you do not opt for private bathroom facilities. All the tents have a front porch with lounge chairs — the perfect perch to watch the sun rise and set. Our adjacent tee pee contained three cot beds where our kids slept. They were delighted to have their own space and quite honestly they loved that it was shaped like an actual tee pee. Each tent is equipped with two lanterns to light your way to and from the main tent which contains a restaurant, lounge area, an adjacent outdoor patio, a fire pit, and outdoor games. There is free coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and filtered water available 24/7. They had a face covering requirement and social distancing was in place for anyone inside the main tent.
Under Canvas is well run with friendly staff available to answer any and all questions. Quite honestly, we were poorly prepared for our trip to Smokey Mountains and hadn’t put in as much time planning what we would do while we were there. Upon our arrival they immediately guided us to the best hikes, swimming holes, and undercover park attractions. They really pay attention to the details to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. You can count on a concierge-like experience as you would expect in boutique hotel accommodations and a spectacular perch for sunrise and sunset you will not find at anywhere else.
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